Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired


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Sunday 24 March 2013 The Forest Road Reader, No 3

Out at our swanky local delicatessen and eaterie, I saw a woman who had five or six small stars tattooed along her hairline. If I'd tried that the stars would long ago have been beached by the receding tide. The next day we hung a new mirror, perfectly angled for me to track just how much highier and drier those stars would be getting.

I spent a fair chunk of late 2011 and early 2012 reading Neal Stephenson's remarkable Baroque Cycle, three thumpingly long books set during latter part of the Early Modern period. The action ranges far and wide across Europe, to India, the Far East, across the Pacific to America, and back again. In Stephenson's hands many of those places feel appropriately otherworldly and dreamlike, but it's his singingly vivid descriptions of London that have stayed with me. When I walk across central London now, I feel the dirt and clutter and life of 17th century London lying unquiet beneath me.

"What did you do to her head, she used to be beautiful?"

I chucked Early Modern in there because I'm married to a historian. The Early Modern period is 1450 or so to 1850ish and it tickles me that such a long period of time can be pulled together under one banner. You don't even have to consider what's happened between 1850 and now to see how arbitrary that must be. You only have to describe your own childhood to your children for the gulf of your life to yawn open beneath you. If you don't have a child handy, they can easily be borrowed for the purposes of this exercise.

Editor wars? There was only ever going to be one winner. I wasn't joking when I used to say I only used vi to edit my .emacs file. That's not quite so true now, but I know where my allegiance lies.

I don't know if you could get humous in London in the 1700s, although I wouldn't be at all surprised. Next you time you pass through Holborn, do yourself a favour and bob into Hummus Bros for a bowl of humous and beans, some barbecued aubergine, and a cup of mint tea. It is the very business.

Come to think of it, where is my .emacs?


Tagged neal-stephenson, and london


Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

Feed

Follow me on Twitter
My code on GitHub

Contact
About