So, Big Dave has left, in a cloud of adulation and office stationery, getting ready to move house over the break. Everything is booked, and everything is ready to go, and when I get back after Christmas I will have someone new to share the office with.
Things have been a little strange lately, and not just because of Dave. Work has been very stressful, and other things have been very stressful too. I see someone and I want to try to help them, to save them from themself and from dangerous people, but I know they would not accept my help. The stress of all this, and all the work that has been piling on me at the office, makes me want to curl up for a thousand years, not sleeping, just dormant. A bit like King Arthur, maybe.
Talking of King Arthur, here’s more Susan Cooper:
For Drake is no longer sleeping in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may
not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you.
Now especially since man has the strength to destroy this world, it is the responsibility of man to keep
it alive, it all its beauty and marvellous joy.
Maybe that should be my epigram for the coming year. In the meantime, I’m going to occupy myself with the King William’s College General Knowledge Paper. I might only get a handful of answers,* but it will keep me busy for a while.
* which may or may not include “Copernicus”, “Theodore Roosevelt”, and “The Waterloo and City Line”. That’s how random they are. Feel free to guess what questions I think those are the answers to.
When I was still a student, as a researcher, I was always a bit rubbish. I’m one of those people who hoovers up random, unconnected pieces of information like anything; but when it comes to use it I can never remember where it came from. Little factoids are no good unless you can judge how true it is likely to be, and you can’t do that if you don’t know their provenance.
For example: everybody knows that the Tower of London maintains a family of ravens, for there is an ancient legend that states that should they ever leave, the Tower, the monarchy and the nation will fall. Their wings are therefore clipped, to try to lessen the risk of them wandering.* Everybody knows about the legend, and its ancient origins. Just how ancient is it, though?
There’s an article on the ravens and the current Tower Ravenmaster in the current issue of Fortean Times. It claims that it was Charles II who was first warned that the ravens must never leave the Tower; but that there is no actual evidence for their presence before the end of the 19th century. So, possibly another of those ancient traditions invented by the traditionally-minded Victorians. Possibly not, though. There is another, older myth on a similar theme; but it wasn’t about literal ravens at all. It’s a much, much older myth, and it isn’t even English.
On Sunday, after reading the FT article, I spent a good hour or two reading up about it, and writing a post about it, but accidentally deleted it in a fit of stupidity, by pressing the “reload” shortcut when I meant to type the “open new tab” shortcut. It took an hour or two because, as I said above, I can remember a lot of things, but can’t remember why. So, I spent quite a long time reading the wrong books in search of information I was sure was in there. Bah. I’m going to go and reread them now, so I can go and rewrite.**
(read part two here)
* and, incidentally, the Tower now has a well-equipped isolation aviary to which they’ll be moved if there’s a bird flu outbreak in Britain.
** and to give me an excuse to break this over-long post up into parts.