Thursday, 17 November 2011

Sleepless in West London

I slept very badly last night. No, I should rephrase that: I slept very little last night. There was a main reason and a subsidiary reason. The minor reason was that at about 8.15pm I had drunk caffeinated coffee. The major reason was that my wife and I had reached an important decision at around 11pm. I am not able to share this with you yet, as it affects quite a number of other people, but I can assure you that the choice we have made is a very happy one and that no animals were harmed in the making of it. The fact is: my brain just would not switch off, other than for about two hours all told, during the hours of deepest darkness.

In consequence I am feeling a bit spaced out today, although not dozy, which surprises me. I have in fact just done ten press-ups in part of my bid to recover some sort of physical fitness. No really, no need to clap…well, if you insist…

Our daughter went back to university yesterday evening, having spent a few quiet days with us reading and preparing for her next seminars. Being selfish for a moment, it is very interesting for me that she is studying history just as I am getting into the subject after thinking for most of my life that I had no aptitude for it, other than of course applauding it  as “a Good Thing”, as the authors of 1066 and All That would have put it.

Cartoon by Royston Robertson
You can see more of his work at

Speaking of history, I took delivery a couple of days ago, courtesy of Amazon, of a second-hand book in pristine condition. I was pretty excited about this, as the work is a brief life of the figure about whom I am planning to write a historical fiction and therefore the best place to begin my background researches in earnest. I was a bit concerned when I opened the package as the book still bears a red and white sticker proclaiming it to be the property of Reading University Library. Inside the cover however there is another assertion of the library’s ownership, but with the word “withdrawn” clearly stamped across it. The copy is in such good nick that I wonder if anyone ever read it during its time in Reading. It would be sad if they didn’t.

I am getting back into regular work mode as strength returns and am just about to start putting together some publicity for a monthly lecture series beginning at St Olave Hart Street in the new year (yes, we are nearly there). Ideal work to do at home, away from the ringing phone and the whirring printer. Before I go, here is an image that a friend kindly shared with me after reading the last blog entry.

Heaven's Court
A scene from the 1946 film A Matter of Life and Death, another instance of cinema showing the influence of earlier art and particularly recalling the sense of scale and perspective apparent in Satan in Council by John Martin.
In the film, an RAF bomber pilot (played by David Niven) is given another chance at life after a mixup by a heavenly bureaucracy. The heavenly scenes were shot on a vast scale and the film cost £320,000 to make (a huge sum of money at the end of WWII).

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