Posted in October 2012

Watching the Storm

One of the essays I had to do for my masters was a discussion on Steinbeck, but doing my usual poking around, discovered he was almost the exact contemporary of Aaron Copland. I had read an article that criticised Steinbeck for changing his subjects all the time, but that is what I think makes him, … Continue reading

The Workhouses of England and Wales

The Workhouses of England and Wales

One of the best known dramatic images in English is probably that of Oliver asking for more, an image of childhood hunger that is indelibly linked to Dickens and his age. But why were the workhouses built, and why was the mid 19th century such a hard time for the poor? To start, there are … Continue reading

Why Finland?

Why Finland?

This is my final dip into the book on British Travellers in Finland, to wonder why, with so many more civilized places to visit in the 18th and 19th century, why head to such a wilderness? This is a question I am sure many of you wake up to each morning. But anyone travelling there … Continue reading

Plugging My Books

This is a blatant attempt to tweak a few book sales, as they are just sitting around at home getting on each others’ nerves. I have written 17 books, with another one that needs working on. Theyare mostly local history, but I never do just local – whatever Iwrite about, I always try to place it within a wider … Continue reading

In Andover Workhouse

Andover workhouse became famous for its abuse under the control of a Scottish former Sergeant Major and his wife. He was often drunk and abusive, and took advantage of the women in his care. This is from ‘The Scandal of the Andover Workhouse’ by Ian Anstruther: “Elizabeth Hutchins, a matron of more than average spirit … Continue reading

Remembering ‘The Times’

In the wake of all the phone hacking scandals it is worth remembering what an incredible newspaper The Times once was, and the huge importance not just to Britain, but to the world, of its founder John Walter who was a tireless campaigner both in his paper and through parliament, for his defence of the poor … Continue reading

Film Review – Hysteria

When I read the reviews of this I didn’t really believe the story was based on a true story, as it is just so utterly … well unbelievable. It is about a young doctor in Victorian London who cannot get a position as he believes in the germ theory and everyone else is still using … Continue reading

Fickle DJ’s

Sometimes you can make a request for a specific tune and get it played on the radio, sometimes not. sometimes you get something todally different, if not inappropriate, just because. But today somethng very odd happened. A guy requested something like a sea shanty because he was getting on a ferry to Stornaway. 6 Music … Continue reading

Songs About Neighbourhoods

This was triggered by a DJ the other night mentioning that he once busked to Tom Waites’ In the Neighbourhood from Swordfish Trombones and it was the most unsuccessful song they ever did. That means either they played it badly or the passers by had no taste. I love Waites and this is a great song, … Continue reading

Old Gas

So many things in history are not new, and so it is with greenhouse gases. Research by Celia Sapart of Utrecht University has shown that greenhouse gases rose over a 200 year period during the Roman Empire and China’s Han Dynasty. Atmospheric gas trapped in Greenland’s ice shows that the main greenhouse gas, methane, rose … Continue reading