Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Something nasty in the basement

I'm writing a review of a book by the man who was "The Prof" when I was an undergraduate, and I'm finding it really frustrating because it's for Library History not the Literary Review, and yet I have the best anecdote to start it with. Or at least I think it's a good anecdote. It's about how when we were just undergraduates he took a group of us on a trip to Ramsey in a minibus. The land round there has all been drained and is pretty flat and featureless, foiling the Prof's attempts to point out the monastic estates and eel-weirs, etc. When we got to Ramsey, where Abbo of Fleury once taught Byrhtferth computus, a kind headmaster took us all down to the basement of his school into the boys' loos (they smelt foul) and pointed out in the corner some reused carved masonry which was the sole remnant of the monastery buildings which had replaced the Anglo-Saxon monastery. The book is about Anglo-Saxon libraries, and I thought it would make a good line about Lapidge being the ideal guide to the disappeared, or something. Unfortunately the Literary Review has never asked me to review anything, and I can't really get all anecdotal in Library History. It's probably for the best. If I start trying too hard I'm just going to come over as a bit of an Alain de Botton.

In other news, there was an excellent Sophie's World moment of near-escape from the confines of narrative in the O.C. today when the Julie Cooper's daughter brought her tennis coach whom Julie had snogged to a party where Julie was on a date with the tennis coach's father. How did you know Bullet was his father? asked Julie. I didn't, said the daughter. That's rather a coincidence, said Julie, and they both stared into the middle distance pensively for a bit. But they didn't pursue it and break free like Sophie, who I seem to remember did some pretty non-age-appropriate stuff once she realised she was only a narrative device.

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