Cally Phillips beat the nostalgia out of me in a review of my book The Care Home but that's another story).
Apart from being a wonderful book it reminded me of a time that I made a questionable decision.
Seven years ago I was sat outside of my rented Bungalow in Manali, Northern India.
Manali is a small village/town that sits at the foot of the Himalayas; from the porch of the bungalow the intimidating peaks of the Rohtang Pass can be seen on a cloudless day whilst the gentle flow of the Ganges can be heard above the shouts of Indians and tourists enjoying the summer in a postcard perfect place.
My two fellow travellers were in bed, choking on the charas smoke that was billowing from their respective chillums. I was sat outside with a glass of sweet masala chai half way through a book that, until that day, I had never heard of. The Wasp Factory.
It's rare that I read a book that makes me feel like an eight year old watching a Bruce Lee film. Trainspotting was the first and then Down and Out in Paris and London; I had expected it from those books, but I hadn't expected it from The Wasp Factory.
It was the strangeness, the absurdity, the dark dreary Scottishness, the originality and mostly the depravity.
As I reached the murder of Little Esmerelda two German girls, Viola and Kat, opened the door to their adjacent bungalow dressed in sarongs that were fine enough to reveal the bikinis beneath them. Both girls were beautiful but I had taken a fancy to Kat over the recent days. Kat bounced over to me and explained that they were heading into the hills to bathe in a natural hot spring and then she asked if I would like to join them. "No" I said. I've questioned that decision ever since.
Six years later having read more of Banks' work I took a small train ride from Waverly station to South Queensferry or The Ferry as Gisby calls it in his book. For no obvious reason I was going to bump into Banks in one of the pubs or maybe on the wee beach under the Forth (I don't even know if he still lives there) and tell him what his book did to me. Of course I didn't meet him and instead got drunk and remembered that day in India. Should I have picked the book or the Germans. You be the judge.
The Wasp Factory changed how I felt about books I was only twenty one when I read it and still finding my way in the literary world. I will never forget that day in India. For that reason Banks holds a special place in my heart and the recent news of his failing health saddened me greatly.