In these times of no-let-up 24 hour news, hysterical headlines and taunting Twitter, it's important - especially for news junkies like me - to have a few short-cuts into a Zen-like state of serenity.
For some it's a bike ride or a hot candle-scented bath. My own escape pod has usually been music - Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat never fails, nor Arcade Fire's Wake Up - or a certain kind of reassuring writing, a story set in a relatively safe world rich with wit, warmth and humanity. Lately it's Alan Bennett who's been most satisfying. Where there is Alan, I find, there is a big heart, a cheering honesty and always, a good laugh.
I've noticed a few people recommending 'retreats' in the last week, the best coming from media-friendly Reverend Richard Coles whose response to a 'mad world' is to listen to Haydn or read Christina Rossetti. I'll give that a try, when I'm down to my last Alan.