I am involved in my usual activity at this time of year which is trying to get through as many of the Man Booker shortlist as I can before the winner is announced. I know that compared to others who set themselves such challenges as cycling bareback across the Gobi Desert whilst wearing a Mr Blobby suit, this might sound like small beer, but a challenge is a challenge and, compared to the rest of the year when the greatest challenge I face is getting up to the bar to order another pint, it is a significant annual event in my calendar. I have almost finished Anne Tyler's "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (just the last bit threaded around the bobbin to go, so to speak) and it has made me think about whether there is any such thing as a "normal family".
That is a normal family in the picture at the head of this post. I have no idea who they are (although I feel I have known the man on the right of the photograph all my life); the photograph came from a job lot of unwanted photographs I bought on eBay. But they look like such a normal family - and therefore their lives will be threaded together by the usual collection of secrets, tragedies, and love affairs. Tied together with a spool of blue thread no doubt.