I wanted to start Ulysses on Bloomsday, to give me an added incentive to read a book I have attempted so many times before. The whole book was only just ready in time, so I downloaded the first chapter from the forum page, to have something to be getting on with.
I had some chores to do on the Sunday, so I got my iPod, and started listening. It was strange, really. The first chapter is recorded in a pub, it seems, with loads of background noise, and with the book being passed between various people, some of whom take the whole thing more seriously than others.
My first reaction was disappointment, and to turn off the recording, and read it properly: I felt the readers were not showing enough respect to such a complex work, and one with which I needed all the help I could get. So I did turn it off, and read it from my old paperback copy.
When I set off to work the next day, however, I still only had the first chapter on my iPod. So I decided to listen to chapter one again. And this time, I realised one of the biggest problems I had with it in the past was that is was SUCH a rite-of-passage type literary monument, that I gave it TOO MUCH respect. I always wanted to understand every word. Reading the book myself, I was transported back to being nineteen and confused, disappointed with myself for being so baffled. Having it read by a bunch of chuckling rugby players (just a guess, there) made me realise: It's Just A Book. Thats All. Just Read It.
Don't expect to get every reference to the Roman Catholic sacrament, or Irish street songs. Get what you can from it, and move on. This is not a test.
So - thanks, rugby guys, who I am sure would find such soul-searching hilarious.