An early start re-drafting a poem for the solstice, which turned out to be more ambiguous and ironic that I would initially have expected.
Then a return to Christmas ritual: buying for others the books you would like one day to read yourself. Once home I was disconcerted to find this, which I absolutely did not notice when I was in the shop:
Later I sustained an academic interview (good grief) about the snowflakes. Don’t ask.
Then some duteous behaviour ameliorated by Chaucer being read aloud, in which the words are retained as written but given a modern pronunciation to help non-specialists. It works quite well, certainly preferable to a ‘translation’ or modern paraphrase. The changed pronunciation occasionally wrecks the rhyme or metre, but most of Chaucer’s phrase-making survives intact (‘…the smyler with the knyf under the cloke …’ ‘In goon the speres full sadly in arrest…’ ‘… and shame it is if a preest take kepe, A shiten shepherd and a clene sheep’…). Chaucer isn’t my favourite poet but it is good to revisit him. So far I’m only three-fourths through the Knight’s Tale, struggling to find a cultural lens that will allow me to feel any sympathy with Palamon or Arcite.
And a mention for the pleasures of periodicals. The Siberian Times is offering articles about schools closing for temperatures below minus 45°C, the interpretation of criminal tattoos, and not running over tigers. Meanwhile the BMJ offers research papers on whether horror films actually curdle the blood, and detection of the Christmas spirit using fMRI, with a view to correcting deficiencies in this area. I like the BMJ’s Christmas editions (a former favourite paper was a longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons). The papers are open access (if the links work).