Back in Belfast

Wednesday, 13 July 2005 20:41
strange_complex: (All roads lead to Rome)
I flew back from Brum in the early afternoon today, and chatted to a very nice couple on the plane who'd just been to Australia for a year.

I must say I'm glad I did decide to stay a few extra days in B'ham and avoid the Twelfth, though. There were some nasty riots in north Belfast, which are brought closer to home by the fact that I know the girlfriend of the BBC journalist mentioned in the article as having been injured in the riot. He has a shrapnel wound from a pipe bomb in his lower back, but is home now and recovering well, thank the gods.

Aftermath in south Belfast )

I've spent the last couple of days mainly relaxing and enjoying the sunshine and the company of my parents, and also getting a few gentle bits and bobs done. I've booked my flights for my interview at Reading, and will fly back to Birmingham next Wednesday, to travel on down to Reading the next morning for the interview. I've also been reading some Geography books: specifically stuff about Central Place Systems, zones of influence, catchment areas and so on. This sort of stuff has quite often been applied in historical and anthropological contexts, and I'm using it to help me back up some of the stuff I'm saying in my book about the relationship between Roman cities and their hinterlands with a bit more authority. Then, I can show how suburbs fit into that picture.

I've also been helping Mum to decipher a few difficult-to-read words in a very interesting diary she has. It's from 1883, and is the last diary of a Birmingham doctor called James Fitzjames Fraser West, who died in mid-April of that year. He was the grandfather of my mother's step-mother, so I suppose that makes him my step-great-great-grandfather, or something. Anyway, the diary and various other photographs and documents relating to him were kept by the family, and passed to my mother when her step-mother died. She is now writing a biography of him, mainly in his capacity as a typical and well-documented example of a Birmingham medic of the period.

More about JFFW )

For example, he had to treat a patient for a ricked back which he'd caused by lifting up his bedstead with his wife still in it: "too much conjugal affection!", he comments. Another time, while in Italy, he agreed to sing a song during an evening of billiards and music. An Italian captain accompanied him, but he comments that although the captain tried to keep to his tune, "he was very far from it all the time." Meanwhile, in St. Peter's, he measured the size of the columns by having his wife walk around one of them, and noted that it took her 80 seconds to do so.

Deciphering the diary )

Tomorrow, I start work on preparing for my Reading interview: spurred on, of course, by the promise that if I can get enough done by Friday night, I get to spend the entire weekend reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

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