COVID19- The Plague of Athens 430 BC

At this time of the year, usually, I would join J in Hebden Bridge. The walk from the station would take me up the hill towards Hardcastle Craggs winding upwards, skirting past the bowl of Hebden Bridge and then snaking towards Peckett Well, before turning to the slip road aiming for Midgehole. In late April…

COVID19: Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering, runs 600 metres from the Antonia Fortress to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and is believed to be the route that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. There are today, nine Stations of the Cross. I am thinking of this today as we approach Easter,…

Chekhov and the 1892 Russian Cholera epidemic

Anton Chekhov studied medicine at the University of Moscow, graduating in 1884. He had already published a short story Dragonfly in 1880 whilst he was a medical student and in the year of his graduation published The Tales of Melponeme. He moved to Melikhovo, an estate 45 miles from Moscow in 1892. This was also…

Turgenev’s ‘District Doctor’

It was not exactly the opening sentence in Turgenev’s ‘District Doctor’ but it was close:   Strange things happen on this earth: you can live a long while with someone and be on the friendliest terms, and yet you’ll never talk openly with him, from the depths of your soul; whilst with someone else you…

Chekhov: death and dying

There are quite a number of Chekhov’s short stories that deal in the business of dying and death:‘ The Bishop’, ‘Typhus’, and ‘A Tragic Actor’ are examples. However, my favourite is ‘A Dreary Story From the Notebook of an Old Man’. I suppose I am drawn to the story because our protagonist is an aging…

What are so many straight trees to me?

Frieda Weekley met DH Lawrence in March 1912. She later eloped with him, leaving her husband Ernest Weekley and her three children. After obtaining her divorce, they were married in July 1914. This blog is about the complex ramifications of a woman leaving her children and her husband for her lover.   I have known…

Aromatics of Desire

Pheromones are the lineal ancestors of hormones as EO Wilson says. These chemical signals have several outstanding advantages. Small amounts can produce a signal that lasts for hours. They are energetically cheap to manufacture and can be broadcast quite readily. At one extreme they can cover barely a few millimetres. At the other extreme they…

Icelandic Sagas- ways of living and dying

I don’t know whether you know about Nkisi nkodi. It is a Kongo nailed figure, a container or statue of forces directed at an end. It is one of the most potent figures of African art. The nails are hammered into the wood whilst ritual curses are spoken. Each object may have dozens of these…

Wub, swibble & pizzled- neologisms and meaning

  I've cycled to Quarteira from Vilamoura, distance of just under 5 miles. It's a very warm morning. The sun is a strong even searing midday brightness glistening and bouncing off the sea. Even I with my dark eyes, have to squint. This is November but it could easily be midsummer.   The restaurants are…

Variegation, difference and other matters

It is now decidedly Autumn. The leaves are about all turned or already fallen off their branches. The pavements have that irritating layer of sodden, rotting leaves. Our back garden has the wonderful show of brown and reddish yellow, of mustard and red pepper, of berries and the yet to be plucked speckled apples. It…