The year so far, between now and the 2nd of October, has not worked as planned. Not that I consider plans to be proof against unforeseen complications, and each plan is set up with alternatives in the A, B, C, and often D sub-sets capable of accounting for crisis. However, the problems this term were well beyond my ability to compensate and thus I fell back to plan K, which boils down to ‘keep the shit together’. That worked until about the 9th at which point I officially lost it, but that didn’t last long and I am now back home in relative comfort.

The result of all this plan-failure is that I am about 6 weeks behind on just about everything; (I’m probably only about 3 weeks behind on the thesis research, but everything else is consistently behind about the same amount). I can, with any luck, salvage some of that and I don’t think I will have to give up on any of my commitments but it does mean that my ‘break’ for xmas exists only in a hypothetical sense, thus the quotes.

I have written about half a dozen versions of this particular update and none of them are really worth the time to edit or impose on some unprepared reader. The only important thing to know is that writing is very difficult to accomplish under certain circumstances and I hope those circumstances do not return in early January when I go back.

Hēllūo librorum

I am sure that the phrase identifies someone with a far more serious compulsion than I have, but it seemed apt for this brief and cheerless post about the books I have bought (or where waiting for me) on my return to Oxford.

I'm not sure a well rested and rational version of me would have gotten everything you see here. However, I am now unable to decide which of these would qualify as rational.

I’m not sure a well rested and rational version of me would have gotten everything you see here. However, I am now unable to decide which of these would qualify as rational.


I’ll let you read the titles and make your own explanations for why I chose them. It’s easier, and potentially more entertaining, that way. I can say that this pile is nowhere near as expensive as it looks (I’m still sorry Z).


Tiny Bookcase

This bookcase is too tiny! How am I going to finish my DPhil with such a tiny bookcase? If I am not careful, I could be trapped in the tiny bookcase, because it is so tiny.


It's so tiny and wee, that I think the pixies made it.

It’s so tiny and wee, that I think the pixies made it.

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Leeds Stack

As is my habit, born of many birthdays and other gift-related occasions, here is the stack of new books, arranged neatly, from Leeds. All but two of these will have to stay in Oxford when I go back to Canada for what is left of the summer break.

Not as heavy as it looks

Not as heavy as it looks

Of particular interest, because of their improbable availability is the one at the bottom, and the green one in the middle. Paul Watson, the publisher of the Harlaxton proceedings took over as the publisher for the Richard III society and they gave him some of the back-stock from Sutton Publishing (now absorbed into History Press). The Sutton stuff is uncommon and when it does appear it is way out of my price range. This stuff was well within that range.

Also, being a rare example of print-on-demand being a good thing, is the trade edition of Klaassen’s Transformation of Magic which is not otherwise available outside hardback. That one is coming home to live with the other esoteric stuff and, if conditions allow, to get ‘inscribed’ by the author himself. Although I will probably have to help build his cabin to compensate for cheaping out with the trade ed.

And honestly, I will actually write something for the blog in the relatively near future, once I get out from the oppressive… oppressions that I currently labour beneath.


silentium est aureum


The inscription, probably a bronze plaque, had been stolen long ago. No-one seemed to remember the name of the occupant, and no-one visited that particular corner of the cemetery any more.
‘Such a shame, to be ignored for so long.’ He sighed painfully.
‘I envy you. We can trade places. I will get so much work done.’

[more fragments from Oxford Noir]

March review

While I am determined to maintain the habit of the monthly review, I can’t say I take much pride in the contents of this one. Naturally, I have only myself to blame for both the results, and my own disappointment. Judge all you want, I’m not particularly concerned about the course of public opinion. And, if that obviously defensive introduction does not deter you, read on for the month of March.

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How do they serve cream teas in Hell?


Turning to the notes at the back he found this detail.
“Why Dante and Virgil, who have been circling always to the left, suddenly move off to the right remains a mystery; this will happen one other time in the inferno”
Perhaps, he thought, the passage to the left was blocked. Or—and this thought cheered him greatly—Virgil decided to stop for tea, and the cafe was on their right. (more fragments from Oxford Noir)


I am the ghost of exams future!

“Rather than carve irreverent caricatures of Oxford dons, the ancient masons of St Albans chose instead to faithfully depict the typical expressions of their students, post tutorial.”

(An excerpt from the lost, and unlamented Oxford Noir, which was doomed from the start as a pale imitator of Cambridge Noir.)

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Oxford students never change

Oxford students never change

This is one of the circulating copies of S. B. Chrimes, C. D. Ross, and R. A. Griffiths (eds.), Fifteenth-Century England 1399-1509: Studies in Politics and Society, (Manchester University Press: New York, 1972), from the History Faculty library in Oxford. Most of that is pencil, but really, what the hell is that about? At least there isn’t any highlighter (in this volume at least). And now, I shall erase several years of ‘active reading’ with my trusty Stadtler. And I’m dead certain, no future scholars will feel cheated of some brilliant marginalia because of my act of restorative vandalism.