Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #7

When We Were Young

Yesterday I took a little me time, and went to see the latest photography exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (also known as ‘my favourite place on earth that’s not my bed’). This exhibition, full title When We Were Young: Photographs of Childhood from the National Galleries of Scotland, has been timed to coincide with Scotland’s Year of the Young Person 2018, and will run until May 2018. The photos cover the span of photography’s history, and therefore show the ways in which the representation of childhood in photography has changed, as well as capturing the ways in which childhood itself has changed. In practice this means that the collection includes formal Victorian family photos, the borderline exploitative works of late 19th century photographers like Dodgson and Cameron, early 20th century social documentary, and 21st century digital experimentation. My personal preference was for the documentary style photos from the early 20th century, I suppose because many, if not all, were taken in the hope that they might provoke change, and improve peoples lives. When We Were Young is described as the second in a series of photography exhibitions (the first presumably being the excellent Hill & Adamson exhibition which ran over the summer), so I’m already looking forward to what else the Portrait Gallery has in store for us. It was a short visit for me this week, so I didn’t go up to see the Heroes and Heroines | The Victorian Age exhibition this time, but if you find yourself planning a visit I highly recommend it.

7 days, 11 books

Despite suffering from another iteration of the snot-monster plagues TT keeps infecting me with, I somehow managed to read a hefty 11 books this week: A Stash of One’s Own, Knitlandia (both Clara Parkes), The Secret Country (Pamela Dean), Juniper Time (Kate Wilhelm), The Suffragettes (various), Wailing Ghosts (Pu Songling English translation), Mushishi Tome 2 (Yuki Urushibara French translation), Night Mare, Golem in the Gears, Heaven Cent, Isle of View (all Piers Anthony). 20171022_153211676_iOSAll told, a rather random mix of exquisite prose, excellent story-telling, and utter trash. I thoroughly recommend the Clara Parkes books even if you’re not a knitter: Knitlandia is just as much a travel guide (the Iceland trip in particular will have you in stitches), and there are some truly powerful essays on creating/making, grief, connection, and feminism in A Stash of One’s Own. The Secret Country was every bit as good as I remembered it’s sequel being (check out Ex Libris #1 to make sense of that statement), and Juniper Time was as excellent as I’ve come to expect from a Prudence and the Crow vintage book box choice. I hesitate a little to recommend Mushishi, as I have no idea what the English translation is like. I first encountered the anime series on Netflix and was captivated by the spacious, thoughtful stories. I’ve found it easier to source the French translations of the Manga however, though that may be less of a problem in the US than in Europe.

From the mailbag

Some of this week’s reading materials were new arrivals; I’m planning on getting stuck into the N.K. Jemisin book this coming week, and trying to stay cool about it as I’ve heard such good things about this author. I also picked up a Westknits pattern book on sale, and am itching to cast on some of the accessories.

Odds and Sods

  • TT and I made ‘fish biscuits’ from a recipe in her Octonauts magazine today; or, as the Technician unimaginatively pointed out, we made shortbread. It was delicious.
  • If you’re a Science Fiction fan you may be interested in Wonders and Visions: A Visual History of Science Fiction, which is currently taking pledges on Unbound.20171022_204329000_iOS
  • Q-Workshop (purveyors extraordinaire of polyhedral dice) have Halloween Dice sets on sale. I have a single Halloween D6 from last year, and it is awesome.


I’m expecting to finish the Ruschia hat in the next day or so, and get something new cast on. As mentioned I’m also looking forward to the N.K. Jemisin book. TT will be back to nursery this week, which means I need to hit the (study) books hard, but I’m hoping to find time to introduce my next project, and deliver the next Ex Libris post.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.