surinenglish

THE MUSIC MAKER

Reading festival

These are times for rejoicing in the small pleasures of life: bacon sandwiches, making music, both of the Manchester teams losing, reading the paper while having a couple of pints. Oh, wait. That last one has been snatched from our disbelieving grasp by the publishers who've decided it isn't worth persevering with the print editions of many of the more interesting UK newspapers here in Spain.

Clearly they weren't selling enough copies to make it worth while. Why? Because, incredibly, it appears that vast swathes of people who should know better have decided that reading the news online is an acceptable pastime. It isn't.

Any sentient soul knows that the news should be read in its printed form, the reader idly flicking through heavenly pages of text, searching for the most interesting articles, occasionally stumbling on a hidden gem, before skipping the economy section in search of something less mind numbing, like the weather. Reading on a tablet or - heaven forfend - a phone just doesn't cut the mustard. First of all, it's undignified all that hunching and squinting and right/left swiping. Sit up straight, man. Furthermore, your chances of happening upon something you weren't intending to read are much smaller and this can only limit our already cropped horizons.

It's the same with books. Now, I'm sorry if you got a Kindle for Christmas and don't wish to dampen your spirits but it's a capricious love, the tablet thing. Oh, yes, right now, it's all "Look everybody, I can store 17 gazillion books on here and can control the screen glare with a simple flick of the finger", but that charm will soon fade and soon you'll be yearning for the touch and smell of paper pages, staring longingly at the bloke next to you on the train with his dog-eared copy of A Picture Of Dorian Gray while you fiddle with your glare controls and realise you've only uploaded four books - A Picture Of Dorian Gray (just now) and three Robert Ludlums.

Books are great.

You can take one into the bath with you if you wish, although the physical contortions necessary to keep the pages dry may dampen the appeal somewhat.

Perhaps most importantly of all, you can give a book as a present to someone and write a heartfelt dedication on the inside cover. "To Jane, thank you for the lovely bacon sandwiches last Tuesday. P.S. Will you marry me?"

Try doing that on a tablet.