Symbolic Forest

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Blog : Posts tagged with ‘curvature of the spine’

End of the week

In which we post updates on a few things

My rather cruel jibe at Fife the other day only seems to have invited a single complaint, from Greig, who pointed out that Fife was the birthplace of Sir Sandford Fleming. I’d never heard of Sir Sandford Fleming myself; but it turns out that he was rather important, particularly in Canada. He invented time zones, designed the first Canadian stamp, and surveyed the route of the first trans-Canadian railway line; more importantly, he was apparently the inventor of the in-line roller skate.

Now, I’m not being deliberately cruel to Fife again here; but it made me think: just how many famous people were born there but had to emigrate to do Great Things? Sir Sandford, clearly; Andrew Carnegie is another obvious one. Adam Smith is the exception – a lot of The Wealth Of Nations was written in Kirkcaldy. If you widen it to the rest of Scotland, you could add Thomas Carlyle,* Daniel Wilson,** and probably many more. Does it outnumber the people who stayed behind, though? No doubt this is something I’m going to be proved very wrong about.

My passport renewal application was sent off the other day – and, no, you’re not getting to see the photo. My current plan is for a trip around Bavaria and Austria, by train – I could apparently get the train from here to Munich in a single day without too much trouble. Big Dave thinks I’m mad.

More on bird flu: it’s all a bit over-hyped, isn’t it? The big news story this evening seemed to be: people are still buying chicken. The ever-helpful BBC has come up with a page of Useful Information, answering the questions on everyone’s lips. “Will my cat have to be put down?” “If I find a dead duck, who do I call?” DUCKBUSTERS, naturally.***

In other news, I’ve found that people still do suffer from curvature of the spine, after all. Clearly, this week was my week for insulting random strangers. Roll on Monday!

* Moving to Chelsea counts as emigration if you ask me.

** The famous Scottish-Canadian archaeologist, not the other one.

*** “Symbolic Forest – for the freshest 20-year-old memes around!”


In which we wonder what Victorian diseases are still around today

Yesterday, I was idly wondering: does anybody suffer from “curvature of the spine” any more? Or was it just one of those Victorian diseases which you just don’t see nowadays?

You see, I remember reading, years and years ago, that Catherine Mumford, wife of anti-poverty campaigner and Salvation Army founder William Booth, suffered from it badly when she was a teenager. So much so, she was forced to spend a few years lying face-down in bed reading the Bible and writing letters about the evils of booze.* Today, though, you don’t hear about it very often. Does it still exist?

I spent a while thinking about it yesterday, googling up things like kyphosis and scoliosis. It’s still around, then – but is it common? Do people still get problems like that, or was it just a result of bad nutrition and poor mattresses?

And then, this morning, I woke up in rather severe pain. I couldn’t move, because my back was in agony. It’s stayed rather painful all day, albeit not as bad as it was when I awoke. Clearly, my spine has a twisted sense of humour.

* Thinking about it, though, her life probably wouldn’t have been much different if she had been allowed to leave her bed. The entertainment options for teenage girls in 1840s Lincolnshire were rather limited, and she was rabidly religious from an early age.