If one tires of the latest display of democracy in action that is the "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns" Congressional subcommittee hearing, might I suggest that one turn to The Uncommon Reader, a delightful bon-bon of a book from England's Alan Bennett?
One might think that a comic novella in which the Queen of England develops an obsession with reading might not have much to do with racing, and one would be correct. However, it is amusing to contemplate the ramifications of the Queen discovering her fiction addiction after an accidental visit to a bookmobile. Her staff's alarm at this new-found fascination with printed matter is quite droll, and the exchange between Her Royal Highness and one Sir Claude is most entertaining, so much so that I share it here:
'Your Majesty has started reading.'I heartily recommend The Uncommon Reader for those who enjoy this sort of repartee, as the novella has a sly, cumulative humor that will push all the nattering of subcommittee hearings right out of your head. And I suppose I should mention that upon reading the book, you might find yourself drawn to the reports from the meet at Royal Ascot, including those that feature stories of astonishing head gear.
'No, Sir Claude. One had always read. Only these days one is reading more.'
'I see no harm in reading in itself, ma'am.'
'One is relieved to hear it.'
'It's when it's carried to extremes. There's the mischief.'
'Are you suggesting one rations one's reading?'
'Your Majesty has led such an exemplary life and that it should be reading that has taken Your Majesty's fancy is almost by the way. Had you invested in any pursuit with similar fervour, eyebrows must have been raised.'
'They might. But then one has spent one's life not raising eyebrows. One feels sometimes that that is not much of a boast.'
'Ma'am has always liked racing.'
'True. Only one's rather gone off it at the moment.'
'Oh,' said Sir Claude. 'That's a shame.' Then, seeing a possible accommodation between racing and reading: 'Her Majesty the Queen Mother used to be a big fan of Dick Francis.'
'Yes,' said the Queen. 'I've read one or two, though they only take one so far. Swift, I discover, is very good about horses.'
Of course, one could, indeed, opt for Swift, instead. He really is very good about horses, but somehow I suspect thoughts of Congressional hearings would only intensify.