This morning it was overcast and a bit cool, by this evening via mildly drizzly has become colder and wetter.
Nontheless, we have managed some flaneurserie around the Old Town, a visit to St Mary's Cathedral with its massive gothic altar, and several museums:
The temporary exhibition of 350 items from the The Princes Czartoryski Museum
All of which leaves me rather too overwhelmed to say much beyond: that's a hell of a lot of old scientific instruments/apothecary paraphernalia, and dealers across Europe must has seen the Czartoryskis coming, with their interest in associational historical items (I would guess scamsters moved into this after the decline in fake relics?).
There was also (v expensive) coffee taken in a very plush place with numerous historical associations.
Place is generally heaving with tourists and tour groups.
Today has been mostly airports and planes - both flight AND connecting flight were delayed, so even more hanging about airports than anticipated.
Now fed and in hotel - serious lack of/unhelpful positioning of power sockets. But at least free wifi and brekkers inc.
Bread during week: a loaf of the Khorasan (kamut) flour, made as per instructions on the packet.
Friday supper, Gujerati khichchari, very nice, even if yet again I put in ground cumin instead of cumin seeds.
No Saturday breakfast rolls, as we were using up bread before going away, so had toast.
Today's lunch: lemon sole fillets, seasoned and panfried in butter, served with Ruby Gem potatoes roasted in goosefat, garlic roasted sweet sprouting cauliflower and tenderstem broccoli, and padron peppers.
And okay, perhaps this is me being Very British Problems, but I'm fairly creeped out by the concept of
an event dubbed "woo week" where staff were encouraged to boost each other's morale using notes and gifts.
An event poster from NZ Ski encouraged staff to "Let those romantic and creative juices flow, to show your affections and/or appreciation for your woo'ee. "Whether you're single, married, defacto or other, woo week is fun for everyone. "You are assigned at random one person to woo in secret from 23-29th July," the poster read.
The ughfulness is terrific. I feel thar even short of the reported crudity, this has enormous potential for problems.
When the author complains that he barely reads four books a year, I think we should be told how many he was wont to read before he got addicted to the distracting dopamine rush. (I write here as someone who considers that her number of books read per annum has almost certainly declined: to something in the region of 200-300. But held fairly steady even when I was being an Award Judge.)
I also think that perhaps we should be told what kind of books he's trying to read: in which case, perhaps it's the particular what that he's bouncing off.
(Because honestly, there are times when I find myself bouncing off particular kinds of things, or just not finding whatever it is that will tickle my reading taste-buds. And maybe this is about general mood-factors, and not just the siren song of the digital universe.)
And, of course, I will never not be somewhat amused by the way in which Reading Books has become this culturally worthy activity, because I can remember when it was otherwise...
Should probably say that my part of London is pretty distant from Parson's Green.
Dept of Fortuity: when you see news of a book that you would be really interested in reading, at eye-watering academic press prices, even for the ebook: and in a day or so having a request from the very same press to referee a book proposal for them, in return for BOOKS to a value that would cover this and a bit more.
Dept of O tempora o mores: The Tatler guide to threesomes. If Sir Charles Dilke did do as alleged during a divorce trial, and suggest a 3some with a lady and her maid, perhaps had he read this he would not have got into the hot water he did.
Dept of, is this a portent? Rare white giraffes sighted in Kenya conservation area. Are there local tales of the dire consequences of hunting a white giraffe? In this video clip the mamma has a rather 'I'm ready for my close-up now Mr de Mille' expression.
Dept of, is this not the return of the prefab: Home sweet micro home: sleep-testing a pod for the homeless.
Dept of, so out of touch he's floating in the void: Jacob Rees-Mogg seems to think that the poor are put into the world in order to allow people to acquire merit through charitable activity. O that Simon Raven were around to excoriate him as a fictional character as he did his father.
I was mystified, and going 'what's your motivation here, luvvie?' by that guy who said he was playing the piano in a Bristol park to win back his ex and would not stop until he had.
Which seemed to me, along a spectrum from 'aw, romantic gesture' to 'equivalent of holding breath until turns blue', a lot closer to the latter.
Do we not think when he said
"The social media reaction turned it very quickly into something that would cause the one person I didn’t want to hurt embarrassment and pain.that that person was himself and not 'Rapunzel' (TWFU)?
"That was the last thing in the world I had wanted to happen, so I left.”
And, while there is a folkloric tradition of women setting their suitors arduous tasks - as it might be, go to the Mountains of the Moon and bring me back a phoenix feather, and not just any manky feather, a nice large pinion in mint condition' - do we not wonder, my dearios, whether that was to get them out from under their feet and hanging about in stalkery fashion? (Obvs, is different when it is possessive father setting ordeal.)
I see I remarked some while since about the poem The Glove, that fair Cunegonde was probably hoping the tigers would eat Sir Delorges - but at least she did get him off her back.
I was also reminded of a couple of advice-column things I read somewhere, sometime: one of which was a woman complaining that her husband was always Making Things about the house and their friends would comment and be envious; but that she never got any kudos for the non-performative things she did in the household and would have been grateful for some less showy manifestations of activity on his part.
The other one was similarly about a guy who showed his devotion through DIY, rather than in a more usual and carnal fashion, and she would have preferred a spot of Ye Conjugales.
I suppose this may relate to that trope of 'men have no idea what presents to buy for their wives' and therefore buy things that are trite, inappropriate and unwanted.
This article that I just encountered seems apposite:
I remember, when I was breaking up with one of my exes years ago, he listed all the ways I made his life better when trying to convince me not to go. And I asked him, “but how do you think you make my life better?” and he was taken aback. “I don’t know,” he said. He’d never thought about it.
What I read
Finished The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, which is indeed very good, just required a little more intellectual energy (and possibly, more concentrated reading time) than available to me during and in the aftermath of an academic conference.
Also finished Mitchison's Ghosts, which was very good, got I thought at Mitchison's own rather Schrodinger position on the supernatural. (Is there, has there been, a book to be written on the literary legacy of Margaret Murray's - exploded but in their day highly influential - theories about witchcraft and The Old Religion? I seem to have seen echoes of this, and Graves' White Goddess, over a range of writers and genres.)
Aliette de Bodard, Ships in Exile: Stories of Xuya - three novellas situated in de Bodard's longer future history, very good, just possibly needing a bit more context, but hey, this was a giveaway, wottahell.
Daphne du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel (1951) - spotted in booksale, and have been wanting to read since seeing the movie as is decades since I first read it. Confirmed that there is a honking great, plot-undermining, misunderstanding of testamentary law (I think there were ways this could have been got round in the narrative, but, really, a will made ten years previously would be voided by marriage. Even the lawyer does not remark on this). Also, up codfish and at 'em for Philip Ashley, no? (I will concede that the only du Maurier I have actually reread multiple times is Frenchman's Creek, it is absolutely a go-to work when convalescing from flu.)
Nicholas Blake, There's Trouble Brewing (1937). I was well pissed off when Georgina, having featured in the first few pages, is despatched to do some strenuous outdoor activity in the wilds of Scotland while Nigel Strangeways goes to, as he thinks, give a talk to a provincial literary society and
hijinx nefarious deeds ensue. Quite good, i.e. readable, up to the final pages where we have a detailed reconstruction of how the crime must have been done (we have already come to, surprise whodunnit twist).
Sarah Gailey, Taste of Marrow (2017). Enjoyable.
Oh yes, and finally dragged myself through to the end of the book I was reading for review: very dry.
On the go
(I see that I have things listed as 'currently reading' on GoodReads that I should either mark gave up or on hiatus.)
Dorothy Heydt, The Witch of Syracuse (2017, but actually collecting together short stories published in anthologies during the 80s and 90s: free to download). Enjoying these: partly for the flashback to those days when there seemed more of this sort of thing around - women protags with agency but not necessarily ass-kicking ninjas.
I'm currently in a havering mood on various things as to whether I read them now or save them up for travel purposes.
Glancing through Ask A Manager this morning I spotted this (4th question down):
I work in a factory environment and split my time between the office and the factory floor, and when I work on the floor (where it’s always warm because of the machinery, especially in the summer), I usually end up sweaty. When I go back to the office, I do my best to cool off and dry my face and hair, and I often wrap a scarf around my head to absorb the sweat. For some reason, people think this makes me look like a ninja warrior. I’m not making this up — many people (mostly from outside my department) have said this on numerous occasions, and they seem to think it is a hilarious observation. I have lost count of how many people have asked me, “Haha, are you a ninja warrior?” or simply stated, “Oh, you’re wearing your ninja headband today.”(poster has a health problem causing excessive sweating.)
But people do that much more generally, it's really, really, annoying, because they each of them think they are the first one to have made this hilarious (NOT) comment about your appearance or thing you are doing.
While invoking the health necessity angle may get them off this poster's back, I am not sure there is any way - short of the 'when I am dictator of the universe' scenario* - that one can stop people doing this really very irksome thing.
*When there will be extreme penalties for standing on the wrong side of the escalator or clustering at entrances in such a way that no-one can get by, and stopping dead either going into or coming out from the automatic gates to the Tube (and at top/bottom of the escalator).
(Sustainable alternatives to codfish, suitable for thwacking purposes, will have to be sought.).
Okay, I will not say through all the world in all societies, throughout the whole of history, but I do think that the guy in this interview is saying something that is of much longer duration and found more extensively is due to a phenomenon that's a mere fifty years old:
I don’t think you can look at the misogyny that’s been evident in this election cycle, and what any female commentator or essayist or public speaker endured on the internet or any social media setting, and not realise that pornography has changed the demeanour of men. Just the way that women are addressed for their intellectual output, the aggression that’s delivered to women I think is informed by 50 years of the culturalisation of the pornographic.I cannot help feeling that there is - maybe? perhaps? - more awareness of the viciousness of misogyny, because it's actually more generally visible because of the internet, rather than because:
the anonymity of social media and the internet has allowed for a belligerence and a misogyny that maybe had no other outlet. It’s astonishing how universal it is whether you’re 14 or 70, if you’re a woman and you have an opinion, what is directed at you right now. I can’t help but think that a half century of legalised objectification hasn’t had an effect.As if, you know, women hadn't been experiencing misogyny well before then; not to mention in societies where (at least until the internet) men did not have, or only had very limited, access to pornography.
I do wonder if this is part of a longer recurrent phenomenon (because that's the way I roll) of blaming Awful Behaviour By Men on some new thing in society: do I not recall, my dearios, when Feminism was blamed for The Decline of Chivalry (that chivalry that was as mythical as the unicorn, really). And assigning it a single causative mechanism rather than, you know, centuries of patriarchal hegemony.
Bread, during the week: wholemeal spelt/strong white flour, 4:1 mixed up with buttermilk, very nice.
Saturday breakfast rolls: brown grated apple with molasses and mixed spice.
Today's lunch: chicken wings teriyaki (okay, but would have been better if I'd remembered to marinate them for 30 mins before baking in the oven), with Greek spinach rice, chicory healthy-grilled in pumpkin seed oil and splashed with bramble vinegar, and padron peppers.
Bread seems to be becoming a weekday project.
Went to see The Limehouse Golem last night.
Okay, I can see why the British Museum Reading Room, approached via the well-known Great Russell Street facade, looked nothing whatsoever like the famed Round Room, no longer in existence in its former glory. But I am still a bit 'huh?' about the layout and the rare volumes available on open shelves. (Not to mention nobody noticing that somebody was defacing a book on a regular basis.)
A copy of the holograph playscript would (or should) have been sent to the Lord Chamberlain's Office for approval for production - but those records were not transferred to what became the BL Department of Manuscripts until the late C20th.
But the notion that there would be only four readers on any given day (and a separate ladies' gallery) - please! George Gissing is a character in the movie! A lot of New Grub Street takes place in and around the BMRR, and it was a humming hive of activity, and, we also note from biographies of e.g. Olive Schreiner, a place where a lot of intellectual heterosexual flirtation went on.
In British practice, criminals who received the death sentence were not executed the very next morning; giving time for appeals, pleas for clemency, etc.
That was an incongruously posh dress Lizzie was wearing when Kildare was interviewing her in gaol. Why was she not in prison uniform? And would there not have been a hovering wardress somewhere about?