Oh, how I miss St Andrews now…


The porter had suddenly turned chatty. Perhaps he was bored. More likely he was taking a measure of the new fellow.
‘So why St Andrews? If you don’t mind me asking. Must seem very dull here compared to Oxford.’
‘Oh, that’s fine by me’ I said ‘too many tourists in Oxford. Hard to get any work done.’
‘Plenty of tourists here as well,’ the porter corrected me, ‘at least in the summer.’
That was true, but the difference for me was hard to explain without self-incrimination or unhelpful vagueness. You could weed those numbers tourist numbers down a little, given the circumstances, but those same efforts employed in Oxford hardly made a dent. More certain methods were not my style.
‘Yes,’ I said finally, ‘but I am no fan of golf, so the tourists can have the links, and stay out of my way.’
The porter smiled. He thought that was a perfectly sensible plan.

(more fragments from the Oxford Noir series. This time, the equally obscure and forgetable Nails for St Andrew’s Cross).

March of books

I forgot to add a list of new books—new to me at any rate—with the March review. I will try and make this part of the regular thing because I like the idea, and it’s a good way to remind myself that I am still bibliophiliac. I and my family have come to accept that it is, in all probability, a terminal case, but only through careful observation and management will I be able to control the malignancy and live out my shelf-space as long as I can.

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…like a tamping rod through the head

I would like to re-blog this interesting post about the many posthumous portraits of that most celebrated survivor of penetrating cranial trauma: Phineas Gage. But it’s rather ‘mature’ in its content of graphic simulated trauma, and while I have a strong stomach for this sort of thing, thanks to my particular academic interests, I can’t assume the same of my readers. So, for the brave, follow the link above.

For the very brave, try and find J. L. Stone, M. H. S. Rifal, and R. A. Moody, ‘An Unusual Case of Penetrating Head Injury with Excellent Recovery’, Surgical Neurology, 15 (1980), pp. 369–71 for an almost identical modern analogue (but with one significant difference which I will not spoil for the intrepid readers with access to medical journal databases).


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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Adventures in Forensic Bibliography #7

The case of the Foucault-footnote or, why it’s ok to invent a source if your name is Borges.

This little bibliographic adventure began in an entirely unexpected way and resolved itself with a sort of vague inconclusiveness that I think would have pleased, or frustrated, both of the authors in the sub-title. If it could bring a smile to either of those now deceased entities I am fairly sure they would not agree on the source of the humour.
*A note to readers: This has been cleaned up for content since it was posted and I regret that most entries that get over 400 words are likely to endure a second edit after they appear. Nothing significant has changed, but odds are, it reads better. At least, I’m happier with it and that’s all that matters.

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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.