1. Several years after it would have been a respectably cutting-edge thing to do, I'm getting quite into podcasts. (It's because I have no TV here, not even 4OD, which let me spend ages downloading lots of Shameless and now won't let me watch them.) When I first heard about podcasts and went to check them out they seemed a bit like the early internet e.g. just a bewildering profusion of utter rubbish, but I think they've calmed down a bit now. Adam and Joe's BBC Radio 6 podcast is good, though actually the real show on Listen Again is better, because they play good, or at least interesting, music. Russell Brand is sometimes very funny but he's the most amazing mess of a human being, remarkable for being actually less of a mess than he used to be. Clive Anderson's Daily Telegraph podcast is quite good too, and so are the Radio 4 comedy podcasts. But the ones I'm really getting into at the moment are the history podcasts. There's one called The History of Rome, by a bloke called Mike Duncan, which I've been listening to and enjoying. I've never known much about the Roman Republic and it's good to get a sense of just what the emperors were trampling on. You can get it through itunes too, but only from episode 14 onwards. I'd be interested to know if it's accurate -- I get the impression it probably is, more or less. Anyway, even just coming across terms like Samnite and maniple is increasing my knowledge in a relatively painless way; I could stand to know a lot more about military history, which I've always avoided, but which is beloved of the Literary Review and can't therefore be bad. I've been hunting out other history podcasts, but I haven't tested many yet; there are ones of Ancient Iran and Napoleon which may or may not turn out to be good stuff. The National Archives (olim Public Record Office) have put up some lectures as podcasts, which are quite interesting. (These include a contribution by someone with links to the CIA -- there may be something afoot there -- I'm just saying.) The Oxford DNB's podcasts are also good, and there's a reading of Macaulay's History of England from the Accession of James II which I listen to as I do hanjie puzzles when taking a break from charter formulae. Blimey I'm intellectual sometimes!
2. Actually at the moment I am forced to be all intellectual by lack of other options. It's been ages since I had a curry and vegged out on a sofa with DVDs, and I lament this. To be honest I'm feeling quite annoyed with the nineteenth-century scholarship at the moment. I'm trawling through these charters, identifying witnesses and beneficiaries and tracing Latin formulae as they develop from one reign to the next, considering the import of dispositive sections, amending Latin and Old English texts and trying to disentangle the estate history from Domesday Book and other sources. What I want to be doing, instead of producing editions and commentaries, is writing the introduction, a survey of Wilton Abbey's history and what its charters tell us about its landed endowment, influence, etc etc. I want to be allowed to use the texts, not produce them. Hardcore texts and commentaries are supposed to have been done in the nineteenth century, or the early twentieth, and I blame them for this neglect. Because they could have got away with some things that are denied to me, e.g. broad sweeping statements and assertions. I have to combine the twenty-first-century cautious "this might be the same Ælfgyth but we can't be certain" and "it is not impossible that it was drafted by some pupil of Eadmund C" with the older style serious Latin crunching. Nineteenth-century scholars who should have done this for me, j'accuse! It's making my head hurt; I keep waking up in the night worrying about the phraseology of proems; I have become obsessive about diplomatic minutiae. In the meantime I keep forgetting to eat lunch, and I have loads of unanswered email and probably shouldn't really be blogging at all.
3. Continued Pet Shop Boys news: "Other pop is cancelled for the rest of 2008" says popjustice. Also, I tried to find the Pet Shop Boys' cover of My Robot Friend's "We're the Pet Shop Boys" but couldn't except in an annoying remix, so here is Elton John's favourite Pet Shop Boys song, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk. A typical PSB combination of poignancy and gentle self-deprecation. Also lyrics to compete with ABC; "somebody said 'listen, don't you know what you're missing, you should be kissing him instead of dissing him like a punk', but you only tell me you love me when you're drunk".
Plus here is the PSB remix of Bowie's Hello Spaceboy, with quite a good video: