One of the great pleasures of a winter’s evening on the boat – a deliberately broadband-free zone – is a good book on the sofa, the Squirrel stove (smokeless fuel) burning away. I’m alternating between one fiction, one factual or historical, and have had to step up the book-buying to feed this habit, but happily the nearly Oxfam Books on Upper Street is a good one; its counterpart near Turnham Green Road, passed on the way to one of my regularly-visited offices, isn’t bad, either, not to mention the one on Portobello Road. A few gains from the last couple of weeks… the Zadie Smith I read from the remove of N1, technically only a few miles away, but a hell of a lot further psychogeographically, I suspect. Some of you reading this are well-familiar with my long-running obsession with flying boats (no, I’m not going to elaborate on that again, I’ve bored far too many people with it over the years), but it does make me Very Happy Indeed to find another copy of the most excellent ‘Corsairville’. I lent my previous copy to someone and lost track of it; re-reading it has been most enjoyable and as with many favourite books, you pick up on new details and ideas a few years on. Rather than the engineering aspects and socio-technological transitions of the era, this time I was more inspired by the theme of colonial mobility and the implications for empire-building… no, I’ll stop now. Did I ever tell you that I’ve sat in the pilot’s seat of the Spruce Goose?