I was falling in love with silence. Like most people with a new love, I became increasingly obsessed by it - wanting to know more, to go further, to understand better.I think that a lot of us would like a quieter life. Sarah Maitland is fortunate enough to have been able to find one, and in this memoir she chronicles her own quest for a silent space for reflection, with many reflections on the historical and religious precedents. I realised that my own cultural associations with silence, having been educated at a convent grammar school, are on the whole more positive than those of many native English speakers; Gibbon has a lot to answer for, in that by demonising monks he also demonised the contemplative life. On the other hand, the one time I attended a Quaker meeting I felt very uncomfortable.
I was particularly fascinated by the awful story of the 1968-69 Golden Globe Race, in which one contestant decided not to finish the race but to just keep on sailing, and another, knowing that he was failing, faked his log books and took his own life. Sometimes when social distractions have been removed, we find that our priorities get drastically reordered; and sometimes we can't deal with the results.