I noticed - flitting past me on Twitter the other day - somebody eyerolling at, if not codfishing, some bloke's plaint that watching Dunkirk had made him realise that The Modern Man does not have these Manly Challenges To Rise To -
And being a historian, I thought that, actually, there have been long generations, at least in my country, where most men were not being called upon to take arms and fight, and the general attitude to the soldiery was summed up by Kipling in Tommy.
And that thing about Challenges to Rise To always tends to be seen in a context which leads to e.g. the Battle of the Somme, rather than to being a despised Conscientious Objector, a decision which history may read entirely differently -
Which possibly links on to that thing I also saw flit past me on Twitter apropos of alt-history narratives which allow the viewer to believe that they would be The Resistance, which reminded me of that nasty piece of work Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger going 'where are the good brave causes?', and really, one can think of a few relevant to the 1950s, not to mention, we do not, ourselves, envisage J Porter going off to Spain in the 30s.
And the whole notion of Heroic Actions and somehow, not here, not now.
And I thought, did not my beloved Dame Rebecca say somewhat to this point in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and while this has the rhetorical universalisation and generalisation to which she was (alas) prone, it does seem relevant to this notion of some kind of masculine Rite de Passage:
All men believe that some day they will do something supremely disagreeable, and that afterwards life will move on so exalted a plane that all considerations of the agreeable and disagreeable will prove petty and superfluous.
As opposed to, persistently beavering away at the moderately disagreeable in the hopes that it might become a little more agreeable.
Like last time, I was transferred from my wheelchair to a gurney. I had to wait a couple of hours because there was another person getting Spinraza ahead of me. I guess they're getting a lot more interest from people with SMA.
Around 11 o'clock they wheeled me into the room and transferred me to the cold hard table they use. They positioning me on my left side again and then I waited 10 or 15 minutes for the doctor to show up. Normally this isn’t a big issue I’m used to being patient and waiting for doctors, but laying on a flat surface is painful for me. My diagnosis causes contractures in my joints especially my hips and knees. So I don’t really do flat surfaces very well and making the surface hard doesn’t improve the situation.
Eventually the doctor showed and they finished positioning me and started taking pictures to decide the best site for the lumbar puncture. After 30 minutes or so they numbed me up and started poking. Now I want to be clear the staff at Stanford are really great to me. They were very thorough and professional this time. I just apparently have a uniquely fucked up spinal column. Even though they saw what looked like a very promising site for the puncture they kept hitting bone. Around an hour and 30 minutes I was starting to get in real pain. I had been in pain since they put me on the hard table and I was able to manage it but at this point I was starting to feel like couldn’t really take much more. I was even neglecting to report some pain from the puncture because it just didn’t really hurt as much as the rest of my body.
My shoulders ached, my hips hurt and the ribs on my left side were killing me. The doctors kept asking me to hang in there and Connie asked to give them five more minutes. They pulled out the needle, changed doctors and took another try at a whole new area of my spine. (After having made two attempts higher up on my back.) After another 30 minutes the doctor said she was very. very close and to hang in there. I tried for another 10 or 15 minutes and reluctantly pled uncle.
I was in agony. I was sweating. I was exhausted. Frustrated with myself and the universe for screwing around again. They rolled me on my back and eventually got me into my wheelchair. My worker, who came with me, had an appointment for her doctor at 2:30 in the afternoon. We hadn’t thought we would be at Stanford this long, but once I was done we rushed to the car and tried to get to Highland as soon as possible. We did manage to get her to the hospital about five minutes late and she texted us later to tell us the doctor saw her. So at least I didn’t screw her day up.
Connie said she would try to work something out. You see this drug has to be administered on a strict schedule once I had my first dose two weeks ago I have to have the next two doses in intervals of two weeks. However it turns out that I have one day leeway. I must get my next dose tomorrow or I think I need to start over again. I’m not at all sure I would get the approvals. I am the first person with Medi-Cal and Medicare who has been approved for the treatment. I was supposed to be the test subject. Connie said she'd call me later and she did. I have an appointment to try again tomorrow.
The problem is tomorrow I was supposed to have my caseworker do their annual review for my IHSS (which funds my personal care workers). I have never had to reschedule before but I had to reschedule in order to go to my original appointment. We rescheduled for the following day which of course now I can’t make. So I need to cancel again and hope they won’t be too upset.
I feel like I failed. I know intellectually I didn’t, but I think of myself as being pretty stubborn and I’m proud of that. Now, I gave up and I can’t help thinking I should’ve tried to hang in there a little longer. I really hope these treatments get easier or I don’t know how much of it I can take. Wish me luck tomorrow. And hope my caseworker doesn’t decide to screw me over.
This involved a certain amount of faff and hassle about making sure we were buying the right kind of ticket for the train which would also give us free rides on public transport, ascertaining which platform the train in the right direction left from, etc etc. And then when we arrived a) finding the right stop for the tram b) missing the stop we wanted and being carried on to a point we didn't want.
Except it turned out to be right around the corner from Hundertwasser's Waldspirale apartment block, which was on the list of things to see.
After which we wandered down in the direction of the Schloss (which can only be seen by way of guided tours, we passed) and had what was a rather more leisurely lunch than we had intended at the Altes Rathaus before going to the Hessische Landesmuseum, based on the collections of the Grand Dukes, which has some nice stuff.
We then went out to Mathildenhöhe, which was where the artists of the Jugendstil Art Nouveau movement hung out. This includes a Russian Orthodox Church (not particularly Art Nouveau) and the Hochzeitsturm, Marriage Tower, which looks as if it might be the HQ of one of those somewhat spooky early C20th New Agey cults that crop up in mysteries of the period, and a rather small museum (but I think part of it was closed) of furniture and objects created by the artists of the colony.
And then back to Frankfurt, whence we flew home today.
And in other news, spotted this in today's Guardian: the strange world of book thefts:
“We caught a gent last Christmas with £400-worth of stolen books in his trousers and elsewhere.... As we showed him the door he told us: ‘I hope you’ll consider this in the Žižekian spirit, as a radical reappropriation of knowledge.’”As an anarchist friend of a friend remarked when his car was nicked, 'Property is theft: but so is theft theft'.
Having a weekend with partner in Frankfurt.
Hotel perhaps overdoing the stylish minimalism: why does this always mean, nowhere to put stuff in the bathroom? However, good marks for the breakfast buffet.
On matters of modern design, am I the only person who finds themself waving their hands at a tap that turns on some other way, and vice versa?
Today to the Stadel- art gallery, very good stuff and lots of it. Among works observed, one C16th courtesan as Flora, with obligatory symbolickal bubbie displayed.
Also to the Arts and Crafts Museum, which has gone full-on poncey and eschews labeling in favour of composing curatorial 'constellations'. Though I could have spent more time with the shiny pillow-like balloons that one was permitted even exhorted to touch. (Sometimes I am shallow and frivolous.)
Some general flaneurserie, looking into churches, etc.
Re the current hoohah about Boots the chemist charging well over the odds for the morning after pill, I was going to comment - when posting the link on various bits of social media, to go 'and Edwin Brooks must be spinning in his grave!'
Brooks was the MP who put through the sometimes overlooked but significant 1966 Family Planning Act: as discussed in that post I did some while back on 'why birth control is free under the NHS'.
However, I discovered from googling that - as far as one can tell from The Usual Sources - Brooks is still alive, but moved to Australia. I am profoundly shocked that the Wikipedia entry, under his political achievements, doesn't include that act. We wonder if, in the long history of reproductive rights, it got overshadowed by the more controversial 1967 Abortion Act, or, by the final incorporation of contraception into the NHS in 1974. If I had time on my hands (which at this moment I don't) I would go and try and edit that entry.
*I think this is a quotation from someone? but I can't find a source.
Except some of it doesn't seem to be, o hai, I am now making an effort, it is more that various academic things (seminars, conferences, etc) that I had flagged up in my diary ages ago finally came up and were all within the space of a few weeks, I don't know, it's the 'like buses' phenomenon. And some of them I did do some social interaction at and others I just slipped in and out, more or less.
Have booked up, what I was havering about, the annual conference in one of my spheres of interest that I was usually wont to go to but have missed the (I think) last two because I was not inspired by the overall theme that year. And it's not so much that I'm not inspired by this year's theme, it's more 'didn't they do something very similar a few years ago and I did a paper then, and don't really have anything new to say on the subject', so I didn't do that, but I think that it would be a useful one to go to to try and get me back into the groove for that thing that the editor at esteemed academic press was suggesting I might write and talk to people (if I can remember how to do that thing) and hear what's going on, and so on.
Also had a get-together with former line manager, which between the two of us and our commitments involves a lot of forward planning, but it was very nice to do it.
Have also done some (long) and (a bit less) outstanding life admin stuff, which I both feel pleased about and also as if I haven't actually done anything, which is weird.
Did I mention, getting revised article off last week, just before deadline? and then got out of office email from the editor saying away until end of month. WHUT. The peeves were in uproar.
And generally, I am still working out what I do with the day when it does not begin with posting an episode of Clorinda's memoirs and go on with compiling the next one. Okay, there are still snippets to come, but they come slowly.
What I read
Melisande Byrd His Lordship Takes a Bride: Regency Menage Romance (2015), very short, did what it says on the tin, pretty low stakes, even the nasty suitor who molests the female protag in a carriage (the Regency version of Not Safe In Taxis) just disappears. The style was not egregiously anachronistic (apart from one or two American spellings) but a bit bland.
Janet Malcolm, Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers (2013) - charity shop find. Some of the essays were of more interest to me than others, but all very well-written.
On the go
Matt Houlbrook, Prince of Tricksters: The Incredible True Story of Netley Lucas, Gentleman Crook (2016). I depose that somebody whose scams got rumbled and who was banged up in various institutions for his crimes is not exactly trickster royalty. He then went allegedly straight and got into journalism, partly writing up the inside stories of the crime world, but these are very much complicated by the author as to their authenticity and did he actually write them. While he was more of a career criminal than the opportunistic upperclass louts in the McLaren book mentioned last week, he did have claims to gentility, but again, so not Raffles The Amateur Cracksman.
I'm currently a bit bogged down in it, which may be a reflection of the author's own experiences in trying to write about somebody who lived by lying, had numerous false identities, etc etc (which are very much foregrounded).
Simon R Green, Moonbreaker (2017) - came out this week, I succumbed.
Also started one of the books for review.
There's a new Catherine Fox out tomorrow (allegedly)...
How about, not?
Do we not get the impression that he has a very halcyon vision of what working on the land might involve? I suspect that there are not enough lovely organic farms practising biodynamic agricultural methods to take up anything like the numbers of intending students there are each year and a lot of them would end up working in agribusiness enterprises (which I suppose might be a salutory awakening, or not).
Also, would not much of the work be seasonal? What would they do the rest of the time?
Might there not be objections from the local communities?
I also think of the lack of amenities in many rural parts, e.g. no or inadequate public transport: in the evenings, not in the least worn-out from hours of back-breaking toil for poverty wages, maybe they'll gather round and sing folk songs and dance traditional folk dances and practice folk crafts?
And actually, I don't think this is true:
We also know that without contact with nature we will not form an attachment, we will not learn to love it.
See the rise of the notion of the healing powers of nature and the pastoral way of life in Britain as the society became increasingly urbanised, and therefore romanticised the supposedly more simple and harmonious existence of country life.
I have a feeling that people who live close to nature know exactly how dreadful nature can be. Tetanus! Anthrax! entirely natural.
Doesn't say how long this charmer has been running a business, if you can call it that, but what I should have liked to have seen would have been a face-off between him and Driff Field, author of successive editions (last in 1995) of the idiosyncratic Driff's Guide to All The Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain (these are probably still worth reading if you ever come across copies, even though the information on actual bookshops is presumably waaaay out of date):
Hugely successful for its wit and wide coverage of the field, the guide was nonetheless chaotic, idiosyncratic and often sarcastic, with entries such as: "the b[oo]ks are slowly transforming themselves back into rags"; "judging by body temp, shop seems to have expired in 1930"; "I could smell a bargain, pity was I had a cold that day"; "owner has been unwell recently with bad back (possibly caused by turning on the customers once too often)".or at least how Driff would have written him up.
Yet another paean to the 'return' of the physical book and the allure of the bookshelves: My bookshelf says who I am – and a Kindle cannot do that.
Well, that depends whether your bookshelves do say who you are - mine, I depose, say 'I am large, I contain multitudes' - and whether you want this revealed to any casual observer - though I daresay anyone wishing to decode oursin from her bookshelves would have to be in and out of several rooms and up and down staircases.
(Also, of course, we may not have physical shelves to browse but we have our virtual ones, no?)
Today’s unlimited information makes the boundedness of bookcases profoundly comforting. My inner librarian is also soothed by arranging books. When my young children go to bed and I’m confronted by their daunting mess, my favourite activity is tidying their bookcase.*looks around at piles on floor* And not even the excuse of having small children.
Me, myself, today, I was actually doing something that might be considered my inner archivist at work - going through what I cannot even with any accuracy describe as my files, to bring some order into various matters of life admin, accumulated over a considerable period. The cobblers' children...