I'm off to Heathrow and thence to Athens. Hurrah. It kind of crept up on me unknowing, due to the obvious. Can't really justify this financially, but God knows I need a break away from everything right now. Not to mention seeing my favourite person in the world. Back Tues, hopefully reinvigorated.
One of the problems with going to more than one academic institution is that each of them then sends you begging correspondence for the rest of your life. Bah. If I ever have any disposable capital, which at present feels unlikely, I probably shall feel generously inclined to UCL and Corpus, but right now they haven't a hope. Apparently Corpus are planning to ring us all up and ask for money again. Memo to self, try and be nice to the undergraduate this time. Katy, tell me they haven't roped you in to this.
Mind you, I notice they're finally getting somewhere with graduate scholarships in the humanities. My life might be rather different had this been in place ten years ago.
This story's been all over the place today: Google to digitise largish chunks of five major libraries, including a small but significant proportion of the Bodleian. And try as I may, my inner cynic is unable to repress my enthusiasm. Absolutely fantastic step forward.
Amusingly, but quite sensibly, next month should see the launch of the BL's archive of British websites. Round and round we go.
Actually, that isn't remotely true. I own one Now album*, 12 or 13 I think (it isn't in London, all I remember about it is that it has Hey Hey Matthew on it and is a cassette). Coffee spoons, or at least coffee measures, have actually been a far more important marker.
Nevertheless, the regular phenomenon of noticing a new Now album in the supermarket and thinking "Now 5
69! What the fuck happened to my life?" is depressingly familiar. It doesn't help that right at the moment I have had it up to the putative top of the London Bridge Shard of Glass (to be the tallest building in Europe if and when completed, and a more appropriate metaphor than might at first appear) with my life and want to be here instead.
No, not right now, obvs. Even Mediterranean beaches aren't particularly pleasant in late November, particularly not at 9PM. Still, I'm sure you take the point.
Perhaps Duke Humphrey's Library would be a more appropriate home from home for the time of year. Or not, as the case may be. A friend of mine was once nearly killed by a lump of wood falling from the roof in there, incidentally. There he was, looking at Anglo-Saxon charters when a bloody great chunk of beam crashed into the desk beside him. On closer examination it transpired that the efforts several years before, at great expense, to preserve the roof from death watch beetle (or whatever) had been, err, rubbish and the place had to close down for a year.
I'm not sure why I'm telling you this, unless it's a work-avoidance measure. That would seem plausible, yes.
*ETA: I'm not sure if this requires explanation for non-UK readers. Now That's What I Call Music is a semi-annual# compilation of the "best" of the British charts.
#Semi-annual? Well, biannual isn't right, that means every two years, no? Half yearly, anyway.
I dunno. In an attempt to shrug off the vaguely dissatisfied state of mind I've fallen into, I picked up in Camden Public Library what should, judging from cover and blurb, have been a piece of sub-Bridget Jones flummery. Hot chocolate for the soul, or so I imagined.
Instead it turned out to be a somewhat complex, dark, and intelligent novel, with a clever and utterly unexpected twist. I dunno, can't rely on anything these days.
A discussion on email today reminded me that despite all the reviews (see in particular Fafnir on the Fafblog) I do think I want to read Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons. Not that I think I'll actually like it, or even remotely agree with it, I'm just interested.
I mentioned in the same context Donna Tartt's Secret History. My problem with that book is that I found myself intensely disliking each and every character. Except Camilla, but then....Joff reckons he can see why it raises a kind of nostalgia for anyone who read it while they were at university. I'm not sure I agree. Even the times Joff and I and some of the rest of youse shared on Walton Street never got to quite the levels of The Secret History. Or did they.. perhaps my memory has edited selectively? Anyway, they all work far too hard for it to be realistic. The Wolfe, judging from the reviews, seems considerably tamer, by contrast.
Tamer than our past I mean.
Yes, I know I'm rambling. I've been struggling with Capital Gains Tax all day, which is really not my strong point.
Rich has an ethical problem for you all: go argue with him, Really.
I've just discovered that Patrick Wormald died recently. I feel rather sad: I knew him well enough to say hello and chat for a bit at drinks after seminars and similar when I was in my third year and then at Oxford. One of the best Anglo-Saxon historians of his day, and a genuinely interesting and friendly guy, at least when sober.
I remember him chain smoking throughout a seminar once, much to the chair's despair. I also remember seeing him drink... which was sad -as most who knew him were well aware, he was a heavy-duty alcoholic. His work was, even with that burden, an impressive body, despite the fact he was only 57 when he died.
To Oxford last night (apologies to Olympia, Tara, Kate, and Kim but I wouldn't have had time to see any of youse anyway) for the launch party for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: posh party with speeches in Schools followed by pissup in Freuds.
I'll write more about the DNB later, perhaps, but for the moment my thoughts are limited to the following: (1) Neurofen.
Fell asleep on the Citylink on the way back, man shook my shoulder. "Where do you want to get off?"
"Fnargleblargleoh Gloucester Green will do."
"Um, we're on our way to London."
"Oh, hang on, that's where I live isn't it. OK, Baker Street."
I haven't lived in Oxford for almost exactly five years.
I have been doing my head in wrestling with problems of service out of the jurisdiction and drafting some of the most complicated statements of case I have yet had to deal with (involving claims in four jurisdictions), there being the added complication in this case that Previous Lawyers for my clients have not exactly covered themselves with glory, so we have to make sure the case is now spot-on.
Most of my readers won't understand all that, nor should they want to do so. Suffice it to say that my head hurts and I'm tired.
In fact, I ended up with a massive headache last night, while watching Threads and the Protect and Survive videos with Marna et al, and had to leave early. I'd forgotten how starkly depressing things like that were too... I still think I'd go for a quick death. The Protect and Survive stuff just made me remember this song, which the Saw Doctors, among others covered. (Jethro Tull did another one on the same lines, which Runrig covered. Apropos of nothing at all, Jethro Tull are (well, probably more accurate to say is, when you think about it) playing Budapest this weekend. Amazing, really, that there are people who still care enough to buy tickets.)
Bits and pieces...: this, from the Legal Underground, rings familiar bells, and not bells solely confined to my legal education either.
I was reminded this morning, by someone else who was on a similar flight to mine, of the fantastic experience of flying into London up the Thames on Monday morning. I don't remember ever coming quite that way before: the plane was fairly low by the time it was over central London, and it flew directly along the river: the most incredible panorama of the whole of London (well Zones 1&2) spread out beneath me. Fabulous.