Monthly Archives: March 2017

It’s all relative


Not entirely sorry to say goodbye to my room this morning.

Plain living and high thinking

Perhaps I should warn any casual readers that Sarum College is emphatically not an hotel. The double rooms are modest, the singles are spartan, and the ‘standard’ rooms are tatty … don’t think I’ve ever seen a carpet as bad as this in public accommodation.  These rooms are awaiting renovation, and goodness they need it. But for those on a strict budget, the tatty rooms have to be the cheapest way of getting clean sheets, warmth, hot water and a large breakfast in the centre of Salisbury (and the better rooms are relatively inexpensive too).

The College itself is a very human institution, and you wake up and walk out past the massive chunk of oak which is the front door straight into that amazing Close.

Uniquely privileged

The houses of course are gracious and you wonder how anyone can afford to maintain and live in them (maybe they too have tatty rooms that the owners can’t afford to update).  But I suppose that my own undistinguished brick box would look palatial to many in this world.

For wall fanciers, here is one of the reasons I forgive the place for being so up itself – a little piece of random wall from the Close:

A stone

and another example.  Look carefully and the numbers will pop out.

A long, long, long time ago

Books and legs


Oh – and choirs and fudge.

Sitting between Salisbury cathedral choir on one side and a powerfully-singing companion on the other was a novel experience.  I squawked away happily under cover, as it were, only to have companion tell me later that he could hear every croak. Sigh.

Then legging it round the city so other companion could get her bearings. And tea. And a couple of happy hours in the Sarum College library. We had it to ourselves, spreading strange items out on tables, crawling about on the floor in the darker corners, reading out good bits to one another, and finding bizarre treasures in the bargain sale box.

My suitcase is going to be heavy tomorrow.

Photo update:  from the Chapter House.  I am usually so wowed by the ceiling I forget to take notice of the Genesis story.

So like being back in halls


… that I found myself cheerfully snitching mugs from an as-yet unoccupied room as we hadn’t been allocated enough. Last in would be mugless!

In damp March weather the river was full and fast and the cathedral pleasingly and literally green.  The day’s miscellany was interesting and the grub has been good, but now I am only too glad to curl up in a mangy armchair with the latest book. Wishing the walls were thicker though. It is not halls, whatever the appearance, and one can’t very well bellow SHUT UP through the partition at a total stranger.

Photos when I get home… I hate posting off my phone.

Things to do when you can’t sleep: lxvi


lxvi : Have a dream

… apparently induced by propping myself up, covers to chin, listening to the house for an hour as it rattled and creaked in the squalls.  It seems it was quite a cheerful dream, though the only wrack of it left behind was strange enough to grow a not-sonnet.  I’ve called it Superstition.

I procrastinate


I procrastinate before jumping, but, once in, the water is fine.


Returning to Treharne’s lovely fat anthology, I’ve reached the Old English Judith.  It took a while to read this relatively short poem.  I’m not fluent enough to cope on my own, but have to crib from the parallel translation, which requires protracted eye-swivelling between pages (ow!).  Also, there is not always a one-to-one verbal correspondence between each line of the two renderings, so if it isn’t obvious which OE word means what, one must have recourse to a dictionary. Luckily there are several online, though not always easy for a novice to find what is required.

Worth the bother?  Oh yes.  Especially if you like alliteration and onomatopoeia and polysyllables. And sounding the final e.

bealde byrnwiggende        bold mail-coated warriors

hloh ond hlydde,   hlynede ond dynede    he laughed and got loud, roared and clamoured

wundenlocc    braided hair

Obviously from now on part of my morning routine will involve doing my wundenlocc; but top favourite today was hildenædran.  Turns out that nædre means snake or viper, so perhaps we should say ‘a nadder’ rather than ‘an adder’.  Also turns out that hildenædran are war vipers = arrows.  Got to love those Anglo-Saxons.

And the poem?  Well, there’s a splendid dramatic irony as the Assyrians booze themselves drunk and incapable, while Judith, decorated with bracelets and rings, is brought to the intending rapist’s bed; and yes, a certain admiration, as she coolly arranges Holofernes’ neck so she can take a really good swing at him.  So I read Judith once, and then went to Michael Drout’s Anglo-Saxon Aloud website, following the written poem again while he pronounced it, with the thespian relish those lovely vowels deserve.