tempestsarekind: (rory died and turned into a roman)

The texts – written on Roman wooden writing tablets and found deeply buried in waterlogged ground just 400 metres east of St Paul’s Cathedral – have given the first ever relatively detailed series of brief written accounts of what London was like in the first forty years of its existence.


Virtually all the early Londoners and other British-based Romans mentioned in the newly studied documents are individuals who were previously unknown to history.

And then there's this fascinating oath, which I had never heard before:

In another document a man seems to be desperately pleading for his business associate to send through some urgently needed funds. “I ask you, by bread and salt, that you send as soon as possible the 26 denarii in Victoriati [older coins with higher silver content] and the 10 denarii of [the man] Paterio.”

The author of the piece writes that this most likely means "by our friendship" - I suppose because you'd share those things with friends, like the etymological origins of the word "companion"?

Globe stuff

Jan. 3rd, 2016 06:27 am
tempestsarekind: (where comedy meets romance)
I have been on vacation with my mother for nine days (more on that later, perhaps: we decided to do something really special and go to London and Paris; my mom had never been to either, and I had never been to Paris since I mostly haven't been anywhere but London, not that I am complaining; when a man is tired of London &c).

One thing we weren't able to do while in London, sadly, was see a play in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse; if we'd gotten to London a day earlier we could have seen Cymbeline (sob), but our trip fell right in the middle of the holidays, so while the Globe was open (I made good use of the gift shop), nothing was playing while we were there.

But here is a BBC Radio recording about Shakespeare's late plays, recorded in the SWP and featuring Simon Russell Beale among others:

I haven't listened to it yet, but I look forward to it.
tempestsarekind: (london flower of cities all)
link via Twitter:

Tower of London staff 'used magic to repel the forces of the Devil'


From the article:

Archaeologists, carrying out survey work in the residence of the Queen’s representative in the Tower, have found dozens of ‘ritual protection’ marks literally burnt into the timber uprights holding up the roof.

Historic Royal Palaces, which run the Tower of London, says that the discoveries are “hugely significant”. It is believed that the marks – 54 in total – were put on the timbers, mostly between the mid-16th and earlier 18th centuries, as a way of trying to magically protect the building from fire and lightning and to repel the forces of the Devil and the spells of witches.
tempestsarekind: (brighter than sunflowers)

(link via Twitter)

They've put together a register of over 5000 people buried at the Bedlam Burial Ground in London (Liverpool Street), used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries…which is pretty amazing.
tempestsarekind: (it is margaret you mourn for)
If you find this sort of thing interesting (albeit macabre):

Death is All Around Us: The Plague Pits of London


(h/t Matthew Ward via Twitter)
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
Miranda Kaufmann, whose articles I've linked to a couple of times, has a book called Black Tudors coming out in 2016:

Unlike Imtiaz Habib's book (Black Lives in the English Archives 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible), which I found interesting (and helpful when I was doing some research for a professor into some Hollar engravings), this book sounds like it's going to be organized, at least in part, around the specific individuals that Kaufmann has found evidence about. So that's exciting!

And a related link that's still being updated:
The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section - Black and Asian Entries

(from the site: People of African and Asian origin have lived in Britain for at least two thousand years but this aspect of our heritage has been largely forgotten. Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section has launched a project to find Black and Asian Londoners in the records we hold. We invite all our readers to participate and let us know their findings, either in our reading room or by e-mail. So far we have found 550 entries, the earliest in 1573/4 and the latest in 1939.)

I feel like there's an entire novel in one of the earliest entries:

St Botolph Bishopsgate: 25 September 1586, baptism of ‘Elizabeth, a negro child, born white, the mother a negro’ (GL Ms 4515/1) (underlining mine)

But then, I feel that way about a lot of these entries. I may be particularly partial to this one, in part because I love St Andrew Undershaft (I kind of decided once that a character of mine used to go to church there…):

St Andrew Undershaft: 2 February 1688/9, baptism of ‘Grace Man a Blackmore daughter of Peter Man and Mary his wife’ (GL Ms 4107/2 f.136v)
tempestsarekind: (london flower of cities all)

A team of volunteers is calling on Londoners to help them identify thousands of people laid to rest at the Bedlam burial ground during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fifteen “Buried at Bedlam” volunteers are searching historical records across the capital to build the first list of names of those buried at the cemetery, which was located near the site of the notorious Bethlem Hospital...
tempestsarekind: (london flower of cities all)
Via Twitter (@2nerdyhistgirls):


Hooray, St Andrew Undershaft! Once - because of reasons - I was looking for a church that survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz, and I fell a tiny bit in love with this one - especially after I learned that it had a monument to John Stow in it. But I think my favorite building in this set is the first one, the house (41 and 42 Cloth Fair): I'd love to know more about the building.

(Now I *really* feel like I ought to be reading Adrian Tinniswood's book about the Great Fire even though I know it will probably make me sad.)
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
Apparently there's a giant fiberglass statue of wet-shirt Darcy* in the Serpentine, in Hyde Park. As advertising. For some TV network:


Why would you. Just. Why.

*It's apparently some weird composite Darcy, so it doesn't really look like Colin Firth. (If you scroll down to the end of the post, you can read the press release for this nightmare. Which I use literally, as in, "if I saw this thing in real life, I'm pretty sure it would haunt my dreams.")
tempestsarekind: (mind the gap)
I saw this on a TV news crawl a few days ago, but forgot to look into it until now:

"Black Death pit" unearthed by Crossrail project

I'm not sure quite why, but the suggestion that these skeletons, due to their neat placement, are from the early days of the Black Death is making me very sad... (I mean, even sadder than the presence of Black Death skeletons would normally make me.)

idiot time

Jul. 17th, 2012 01:17 pm
tempestsarekind: (london)
Because avoidance of problems and actual tasks is fun, I accidentally read two of the three books I picked up yesterday afternoon from the library. This has resulted in very little sleep and fragmented dreams about time travel. (The second book I read, or reread, was The Graveyard Game by Kage Baker, because [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe was talking about the Company novels, and also, immortal road trip! If anyone has any suggestions for other road trips featuring immortals, besides my beloved Brief Lives volume of Sandman, I am all ears.)

The first book, though, was new to me: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch, originally published in the UK under the *much* more helpful and appropriate title Rivers of London. Newly minted police officer Peter Grant discovers magic at work in the streets of London, and has his hands full tracking a malevolent spirit turned serial killer, while also trying to resolve a messy dispute between dueling spirits of the Thames. Here's a review:

It's not going to become a favorite of mine, but I enjoyed it (although I had to squint past some of the gory bits - which is when I skim bits of text with my eyes squinted to avoid reading too much at one go). It was a bit like A Madness of Angels, if that book hadn't been desperately boring and if the protagonist had had a sense of humor. One thing that I really appreciated is that Peter is mixed-race, and while that isn't the focus of the book, it still inflects the narrative through Peter's awareness of how other people might see him in certain situations (for example, on the Tube, coming from a magical showdown with a bleeding cut on his forehead). I also appreciated that while Peter is new to magic, he's inquisitive and methodical about trying to figure out how it works. And since I'm me, my favorite thing about the book is the way that London's history and its magic combine.

I don't think the second book has been published in the US yet, but I'll keep an eye out for it. [ETA: whoops, I confused these books with some other books that aren't out here yet. Never mind.]
tempestsarekind: (freema reading is sexy)
I've been reading more "light" nonfiction lately. This started over the summer, when I read Street Gang (...yup; title's still funny) and Fifth Avenue, 5 AM (about the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's). This is partly due to interest, and partly--I think--due to my feeling guilty about starting fiction while I'm supposed to be working. The likelihood that I'll put down a nonfiction book after the chapter or two that I read before bed is much, much higher than the likelihood that I'll do the same with a novel I'm engaged in (which is how I wind up accidentally rereading The Demon's Lexicon at 3 AM, like a genius). Recently I've read (or started) the following:

- Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller. This book is part micro-history along the lines of Mark Kurlansky, and part expose about dodgy olive oil practices, in which poor-quality oil (sometimes even dangerous oil treated with chemicals) gets passed off as extra-virgin. From this book I learned that most of the things on the label of that supermarket bottle of oil are probably misleading or untrue (apparently most olive oil is extracted by centrifuge these days, so "cold-pressed" is mostly a leftover marketing term rather than a description of practice). So now I look at all bottles of olive oil warily. If you're curious, there's also a website:

- Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now, As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It by Craig Taylor. A collection of interviews with a variety of people who have lived in London. I particularly enjoyed the one with "the voice of the Tube" (I wouldn't--but should--have expected how much thought she put into what she'd sound like to people riding the Tube in various situations or emotional states), and the one with the manager of Transport for London's lost and found (apparently all the phone alarms go off for about an hour every morning; that never would have occurred to me, but it makes perfect sense!), but there are lots of interesting stories here.

and like basically everyone else:

- A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor. I'm still reading this, an object at a time, every now and again, but the thing I like best about it is that it doesn't just rely on historians and art historians, but on anyone who might provide an unexpected insight into the purpose of an object--Madhur Jaffrey on what the presence of a mortar and pestle suggests about the cuisine of a people, or a civil servant on Mesopotamian salary records. I've been feeling some frustration of late with the way that expertise often seems to mean only talking to other experts in one's own field, so this is a welcome series of collaborations. And I keep being taken aback by the reminders that we just seem to need art, to make things beautiful, even in precarious circumstances.
tempestsarekind: (eleven and amy)
I'd forgotten that I put together a "year in review" post about things I loved in 2011, and then never posted it because the list seemed so short, and I wanted to see if anything else came to mind. It wasn't a fantastic year for falling in love with new things, I guess. I read 38 books, which I know is barely a sneeze to some of you speed-readers out there, but is a decent sum for me. And I quite enjoyed quite a few of them. 2011 was the year that I finally read A Room With a View (which I liked, but perhaps not as much as Howards End) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle; and I read the odd little book The Brontes Go to Woolworths, and I liked Connie Willis' Blackout and All Clear, and Cat Valente's Fairyland. But I didn't read or watch anything much new that I felt the need to buttonhole people about, and that's generally my standard for a good media year. I didn't have a due South this year, or a Tamsin. Still, what there is, come see. (I have been spending *way* too much time with As You Like It lately, seriously.)

Year in review 2011

--THE PONDS. I've found myself saying lately that "all of my feelings are Pond feelings," and it's perfectly true. Doctor Who is beloved to me generally, of course, but this year has especially belonged to Amy and Rory. I love that their relationship has developed in s6, that Amy is more comfortable showing tenderness to Rory, that they are a love story in every universe. And I love that their relationship with the Doctor has grown and changed, too, that their bonds have deepened and been tested, and that they remain a strange, wonderful family. (*Christmas special flail*)

--honorable mention to Matt Smith, of course, whose face still exists and therefore has delighted me all season. Special kudos for his double act in "The Almost People," which I'm pretty sure I referred to at the time as giddy-making. And oh, that scene with Alfie (aka Stormageddon) in "Closing Time"...I don't want always to have Beat Up on Ten Corner, and that isn't really even how I mean it. But Eleven faces his death with the ability to focus on the good, to remember what he's loved as well as - or more than - what he's lost, and I'm so grateful for that. It's become a commonplace to talk about the way that Matt can suddenly turn so old in scenes like that one, but I think it's partly to do with the way he manages to make one believe that he's actually capable of reflecting on hundreds of years of experiences - sometimes to be made weary by them, but more often to be grateful, even if that gratitude comes with a tearful edge.

--another honorable mention for "The Doctor's Wife." Because Neil Gaiman wrote a love letter to the TARDIS, and it was beautiful. Hello, TARDIS. It was so very nice to meet you.

--And just one more for "Good Night," one of the minisodes on the S6 DVDs (aka the one where Amy and Eleven go get timey-wimey ice cream). This encapsulated so much of what I love about the Moffat era so far: its insistence on the benevolence of time, even in the face of its tragedies, but a benevolence that stems from the way that people orient themselves toward others, and choose to care for each other, as much as from time itself. (I still love the fact that ultimately they don't go back in time to save Vincent van Gogh, but to befriend him. Even though they can't change his fate, they can change his life.) The Doctor can't fix Amy's life; he can't make time travel make any sense. But he can give her the gift of perspective, a little touch of reparation for a childhood sorrow that becomes an answer for her current dilemma. In the face of the inexplicable and the unfathomable, this Doctor puts his faith in the grace of the moment. "Cheer up. Have an ice cream."

--going to London this summer with my friend. Also, theater-stalking several favorite actors: David Tennant, Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker, and Arthur Darvill.

--(this gets its own line) the Summer of Jamie. This began in London, watching him and Sam in R&G Are Dead, which was like magic (oh, my boys). Then his brilliant turn as Hal in 1 and 2H4, which made me feel so much for Hal for maybe the first time: he was so immediate and in the moment, really piecing together his princehood through the course of the plays. And it's no exaggeration to say that the knowledge that he's playing Henry in H5 has brightened my life so much over the last few months: I so want to know where that journey will have taken him.

--very honorable mention for Roger Allam, who made me enjoy Falstaff. I did not know such a thing was possible.

--Passenger by Lisa Hannigan. I discovered this CD during the lees of the year, and it's quirky and enveloping. (I also bought a copy for my high-school Spanish teacher, as a Christmas present.)

--The Hour. Despite a sad paucity of Jamie Parker, this series was engrossing, and I rather fell in love with the rich textures of cloth it put up on the screen. (so much tweed. <3) /shallow There's also the relationship between Bel and Freddie, which I loved: I don't even necessarily need them to get together romantically (though because I have seen television before, I'm pretty sure they will), so long as they remain so important to each other. They're comfortable together, in a way they can't be with anyone else - particularly Bel, who spends so much time protecting herself emotionally, for all that she's reckless sexually when it comes to Hector, wanting to play by the same rules as men, who can have affairs and not be thought the worse for it. With Freddie, she gets to be both playful and childlike, and motherly and nurturing - because it's also always clear that Freddie couldn't make it without her; he's completely fearless, and he also doesn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain: he's got no instinct for self-preservation, literal or social. They've grown up together: she's proud of how she's molded him, and exasperated by his stubborn obliviousness; he knows her intimate habits, and can be scathing and unfair when he thinks she's playing it safe. It's interesting to watch them both try to grow past that old relationship they share, and yet to continue to need to come back to it. And it occurs to me, incidentally, that the way I respond to their relationship, especially when compared to my response to Bel/Hector, is completely telling about my priorities: the relationship that's supposed to be hot-and-heavy, all passion first and foremost, never interests me like the ones where two people find a resting place or haven in each other.

--Luther s2. I didn't love it quite as much as s1 (needs more Alice!), but I would watch the "Luther does domestic and awkwardly protective" show all day, every day. He's so bad at caring for himself that it's startling to see that he knows the offhand, ordinary routine of caring for someone else - not just protecting someone else, because that's part of his job, but the daily activities of cooking breakfast and nagging someone to go to the job center. It makes me wonder about or imagine the possibility of some occluded history of kindness in his life: who took care of him, when he was young and needed it? Did anyone?
tempestsarekind: (posner and scripps)
So I meant to post the first of these ages ago, back when I posted my Much Ado "review," but clearly I didn't. But if I'm posting about 1 Henry IV, then I ought to post about the other thing I saw Jamie Parker in this summer, so...

(Both of these came out as character meta, as opposed to actual intelligent engagement with the details of a production. But oh well.)

R & G Are Dead. In which I seem to be *shocked* that Ros and Guil are not Posner and Scripps )


1 Henry IV, Shakespeare's Globe via cinema. Cut for length, as well as overuse of italics and the word 'and.' )
tempestsarekind: (posner and scripps)
So I meant to post the first of these ages ago, back when I posted my Much Ado "review," but then I was depressed about how dumb it was for quite a while. But if I'm posting about 1 Henry IV, then I ought to post about the other thing I saw Jamie Parker in this summer, so...

(I really am sad that I don't seem to be able to write anything about plays that doesn't come out as character meta, as opposed to actual intelligent engagement with the details of a production. But oh well.)

R & G Are Dead. In which I seem to be *shocked* that Ros and Guil are not Posner and Scripps )


1 Henry IV, Shakespeare's Globe via cinema. Cut for length, as well as overuse of italics and the word 'and.' )
tempestsarekind: (all the world's a stage)
Right. So. Here are my notes on Much Ado. I've left out one or two of the more rambling asides that had nothing to do with the production, and I've moved a paragraph or two so that elements are grouped more naturally (as opposed to falling wherever I happened to remember them and write them down), but basically this is just transcribed from what I wrote once we'd gotten back to our hotel room after the show. So, er, sorry about that. But I did warn you.

Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s Theatre, London
starring David Tennant, Catherine Tate
17 June 2011

cut for length and ridiculous fangirling )


tempestsarekind: (Default)

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