2010 — 23 October: Saturday

I was woken by the sound of heavy rain1 so this morning's now getting off to a sluggish start at 09:23 or so. I shall shortly be summoned by crockpot-stuffing duty but there's always time for the important first cuppa of the (sunny) morning. Is it possible I've become a creature of habit? Brian Matthew just played "Let the sunshine in" by the Fifth Dimension. How that can be 41 years old puzzles me greatly.

From the divine...

... I had no idea of the genius that was Jane Austen until December 2004, when I first read five of her six novels (I still can't tackle "Northanger Abbey"). I also had no idea, until I saw this...


... quite how messy an author she was!

... to the ridiculous

When Christa and I "married" our libraries (which reminds me to recommend, once again, the delicious essay by Anne Fadiman on exactly that topic in "Ex Libris") I not only got four Austens (which, having subsequently been lent to dear Mama, were then given away2 by her to her papergirl) but also inherited a copy of "Lady Chatterley's Lover". Christa had not been very impressed3 by it, having had to study it as part of one of her degree courses. There's a well-written overview of the ridiculous obscenity trial here. Fifty years ago — crikey!

Quarter of a century later, I found this entertaining confessional snippet:

'Carradale, January 21, 1942. Stayed in bed half morning and read Eric Gill's Autobiography. Curiously unaware of certain things old Gill was! ... He says women "are not inflamed by images... they do not make or go to see or buy pictures of men as men do pictures of women." The hell he thinks that. The important word is "buy." Women haven't had the money and, until a few more can buy, the rest will be ashamed... I remember awfully wanting to buy Gill's own wood engraving of Mellors in Lady Chatterley's Lover for exactly these reasons. He was a naked man, with all the Gill emphasis on the penis.4 But at the time I hadn't the money. It was five guineas.'

Naomi Mitchison in Among you taking notes: the diary of Naomi Mitchison, 1985

The 1930 wood engraving that I presume Ms Mitchison was referring to was prepared by Gill for an edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover but (according to his nephew, the late Christopher Skelton, in the magnificent "Eric Gill: The Engravings") it was never actually used, so I guess it was just offered for sale at some point. Lurking a click away behind this book cover is the potentially offensive image. Monitus es!

Mellors, by Eric Gill

It's 12:57 and has become so dark I need to switch the light on. It's pouring with rain, too. Yuk.

Celebrity culture

I'm no fan, but it seems to be well-established, if this interesting article by Robert Garland is correct. I'm often bemused by the certainty of historians' pronouncements, as my personal inclination is more towards the cock-up theory of history. I thus feel there should be a more random flavour to events than the neat and tidy linear narratives we're usually presented with. I was blissfully unaware of Theodora's party piece with geese, too :-)

Time for my next cuppa, methinks.

... on Bob
... on creative destruction
... on the death (or otherwise) of Microsoft
... on Body Ritual among the Nacirema

At least one of these is a famous anthropological spoof, of course.

And here's a very nice Executive Summary to ponder.


Having been assured it's going to be sunny all day long, I've just settled on a walk tomorrow. Right. Time (21:08) for a cuppa and some serious Boston Legal. I'm currently half way through Season #3, which was the last season that Christa and I were able to watch together. She found it very entertaining, as do I.



1  At about 03:00, dagnabbit.
2  Dear Mama, over the years, has always had a delightful propensity to give away "my" things, and even to retrieve presents given to me for that purpose. Christa found this behaviour outrageous — I was more resigned to it as I'd long observed it.
3  Ironically, nor had dear Mama, whom I remember wrenched it from my grip on one family holiday back in the early 1960s when she realised I'd found it on the bookshelves of the young merchant seaman in whose room I was sleeping at the time while he was away in furrin parts.
4  An emphasis more than matched by Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs Man in Polyester Suit and Philip :-)