2013 — 9 March: Saturday

Another initially moist day, but I've no need to go out in it for a while. Besides, Brian Matthew's "Sounds of the 60s" is on. And there's tea to be drunk and breakfast to be thought about.

Having read a couple of other...

... excellent books by Paul Nahin1 I wasn't particular surprised when one of his casually-discursive "asides" in yesterday's acquisition took me off in search of volume II of my collected short stories of W Somerset Maugham — to the First World War era Ashenden story "Mr Harrington's Washing" to be precise — to confirm the assertion that:

Man has always found it easier to sacrifice his life than to learn the multiplication table.

Date: pre-1951!

"Duelling Idiots" has (I think [possibly because I was 22 when I married Christa?]) the most charming dedication I've yet seen:

Paul J Nahin

I must be a terrible...

... disappointment to financial and investment advisors. The one I was due to see (reluctantly) this coming Monday rang a few minutes ago and started (frankly tediously) going through the checklist I mentioned. Perhaps he thought I can't read? I am, after all, trembling on the verge of senility from his point of view. I fear the amused and mildly mocking shrift he got from me was short enough that he actually cottoned on and cancelled our appointment "so as not to waste each other's time". (I was perfectly polite, Christa. Don't worry.) Result!

My battered heel is itching. I take that to be a Good Thing. [Pause] As was the just-concluded unexpected extra helping of Cerys, a day earlier than usual. Right. Time to think about a bite of lunch. It's pleasantly mild and I could almost think I'd seen the sun from time to time.

Although I have...

... a thick book of his letters, and a slimmer selection of his shorter pieces from the "New Yorker", this little gem (on the then-developing technology of television) by the author of Charlotte's Web had somehow passed me by:

We went last week to a demonstration of television on the sixty-second floor of the R.C.A. Building, where some rather startling images were ending up after being tossed around the midtown district. We sat in a darkened room squarely in front of a receiving set and, as we understand the matter, the persons and objects which we saw were down on the third floor of the same building, where they were first photographed televisually by an iconoscope, thence sent by direct wire to the Empire State Building, and then came back on a megacycle to the sixty-second floor of R.C.A. The magical unlikelihood of this occasion was not lessened any by the fact that a stranger wearing a telephone around his neck was crawling about on all fours in the darkness at our feet. This didn't make television seem any too practical for the living room of one's own home, although of course homes are changing.

Date: 1936

I've just topped up dear Mama's account in time for the next wodge of care-home fees. I must say, it seems to evaporate faster and faster. Still, she remains blissfully unaware, and we know that ignorance is bliss, don't we?

A new production of Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" is coming back to BBC Radio 4 next Saturday afternoon. [Pause] And the latest Bujold is a delightful romp.



1  Two editions of his speculations on Time Machines, and an (equally imaginary?) examination of the square root of minus one.