I was chatting with my friend Rich in the pub the other day. It was a pretty convivial setting: we were on the comfy leather seats next to a glowing coal fire and we were drinking pints of excellent seasonal beer. Talk turned to books and I quickly and unwittingly entered a minefield. My friend, you see, is working his way through George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Fire and Ice” saga and wanted to talk about where he was up to. This is problematic: he’s watched the first two series of the TV adaptation (“Game of Thrones”), but – at the time of the conversation – he was only about halfway though the third book of five.
I don’t know if you’ve read these books, but they are vast, epic sweeping affairs, each one coming in at well over a thousand pages and featuring hundreds of characters and events taking place across continents. Lots happens and the plot twists and turns intricately: it’s a gripping read. I read them all a couple of years ago now and although I know roughly what happens in the major narrative arc, I’m a little bit sketchy now about exactly what happens to each character when. That being the case, it’s actually pretty hard to discuss the story at all without potentially ruining a significant plot point that my friend may not have reached yet.
In the end, I decided that discretion was the best policy, and basically kept my trap shut, let him talk and just enjoyed his enthusiasm for books that I also loved. I had the last series of “Six Feet Under” ruined for me when I inadvertently heard the fate of one of the main characters. I wasn’t about to risk doing the same for my mate.
….which makes what happened next all the more unfortunate.
As I was driving into work this morning, my phone pinged announcing the arrival of a text message.
My wife looked over at my phone, which was plugged in to my stereo and playing a lovely sequence of seasonally appropriate tunes. “It’s from Rich. As you’re driving, shall I read that to you?”
So she did.
Sadly, Rich had now reached a massive plot development in the third book and wanted to share it with me (it’s the “Red Wedding”, if you’ve read the books and you’re curious). C. isn’t reading the books, although she has been watching and enjoying the TV series and thinks she might read them when she has a bit more time. She read out the text, not realising what she was reading, and before we knew where we were, a massive spoiler was out there and couldn’t be taken back (which I immediately compounded by apologising for, only for that to make her realise that what she’d read was significant and to read it again…).
It’s not completely the end of the world, I agree… and actually the dust hasn’t settled enough for Rich to know what’s really happened either. Even so, it’s a little unfortunate, to say the least.
It’s a conversational minefield, I tell you.
Quick update on the phone we found the other day and left behind the bar of this very same pub. Apparently the owner has now been in to pick it up and has left enough behind the bar to buy us a round the next time we’re in. Well, one good turn…. Well done everyone.
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