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Dear National Archives: Your catalog sucks! What the hell does "Scope and content: Serbia. Complete." mean???

[Comments] (1) The Ulimate Contest: BL vs. NA:

National Archives perks:
Free internet
Better and cheaper food
picturesque area
quick(er) document delivery time
higher ratio of cute guys to general reader population
no pound coin required to operate lockers (seriously what is the point of that?)
no undergraduates
You can take in a camera! they even have camera stands so you can photograph documents
Less stringent rules about ids required to get a reader's ticket

British Library perks:
Newer and nicer building
Not on the other side of the world
Greater likelihood of running into friends and thus an excuse to escape to the cafe for a break
Or for that matter your supervisor so she will see for herself how hard you are working
Fewer dragons pacing the floor to make sure you are not mauling the documents

BUT BL put "Ms R" on my card and NA put "Miss Rachel." Guess which I prefer. I went to my friend's flat in Wimbledon for dinner (which, coincidentally, means that I transversed London from zone 3 to zone 1 three times today, but you know, it was okay, I had a Julia Quinn novel) and we had a long discussion about the importance of titles in this country.

[Comments] (3) QOD: What's more important, buying free trade or buying organic?

Discuss. Link me. Just don't tell me it's all a sham. I'd like to hold onto some of my idealism.

Success and failure: I'm working from home today, so I went out exploring some more of the West Indian grocers on a nearby street. Finally I found some black beans I can cook, which is good news for burrito time. I love cooking black beans because for a little more than the price of a can you get 4 times as many, plus you can make them however you want and it's really not the much effort. I just can't bring myself to buy a can for 50p knowing the beans are saturated in salt and will only make about 3 burritos. I have been pretty much living off of lentils recently so this will make a nice change. I've been craving protein since I started running.

I also found some white vinegar and baking soda in containers bigger than tiny. But they were still quite expensive. £2.79 for 900 grams of baking soda and 79p for a bit more than half a litre of vinegar. I wanted to start using them for cleaning as we use up our current stash of cleaning supplies, and I guess it is still cheaper than buying more but it's not really the huge savings it would be if there were a smart and final around.

In other news I found a place that has henna just off the tube stop, so now I'm a red head again. As are my flatmate and my friend Jenn. 99p and enough henna for all of our hair. Once again I recommend henna to all who want to dye their hair red.

Delicious tuna wrap:
1 tortilla
1 can tuna
handful of spinach leaves
5-10 thin cucumber slices
1 tablespoon hummus
1 tablespoon pesto
3 tablespoons plain yogurt.

Spread the hummus and pesto on one half of the tortilla each. Place the spinach leaves in a layer on top, and arrange the cucumbers in strategically placed rows on the tortilla. Drain the tuna, stir in the yogurt, and spread half of it as best you can on the tortilla. Roll up tortilla, cut in half and place in sandwich Tupperware. Retain rest of tuna for tomorrow's lunch.

[Comments] (2) Just me then?: I wonder if everyone frequently has post-apocalyptic dreams.

[Comments] (2) Publishing and history collide:

“Oh, Rachel, this should interest you,” says one of my coworkers, pouring over a copy of The Bookseller. “In ‘history, politics and war’... ‘What is was like being a woman in the Balkans, First World War.’” He was joking of course, but I read the preview section anyway. No need to worry, there’s still a unique place in the historiography for my work. In fact, there was not one book on non-western fronts, unless you count "a concise and authoritative account of the entire course of the First World War, with analysis of decisive encounters and landmark engagements. It describes every major battle..."

The entire course of the war? Just the very book I would argue is impossible to produce. A definitive account of the First World War? EVEN if it’s just focusing on military events? (They never come out and say this outright, you have to infer it yourself from the description of battles, etc, but I think it’s a deplorable assumption in this day and age of social and culture [not to mention economic and political] history that a book on a war by default means military history. But anyway.) Let’s just consider the scale of the event. But then, these are publishers, not historians.

What other gems does The Bookseller line up for us? How about one on Marie Antoinette’s daughter? "It includes previously unpublished evidence that lays earlier conspiracy theories to rest." Previously unpublished evidence??? Who ever heard of such a thing? How exciting, really. Except that finding and interpreting primary source evidence is, um, yeah, the job of historians.

One book drew my attention, seemingly about the foundation of the Imperial War Museum and the end of the First World War. Since I spend a fair few of my days at the good ole IWM a book about its first days was intriguing to me. But – go to the Amazon link and lo and behold!: “Including archive material published here for the first time…” Why is this such a big deal? Not only that, it looks like I got the wrong impression from the Bookseller. Just another book on remembrance….

Now don’t get me wrong, remembrance is all well and good (and important)… However since Jay Winter it has been done over and over, and in one section of my thesis I remember (haha) arguing that this over-emphasis on remembrance might be just another way of our co-opting First World War experience for ourselves and devaluing the experiences of those who actually lived it.

Opps: I thought I felt something poking me in the night and when I woke up I discovered I'd been sleeping on my iPod shuffle. It must have been in my kangaroo pocket and fallen out. Hopefully it is no worse for the wear!

[Comments] (2) I miss you: Not a day goes by when I don't, to give truth to that old cliché; but today, especially today, I miss you.

[Comments] (4) And whiskers on kittens: On Saturday night I went to see The Sound of Music at the Palladium. As my siblings will (fondly I'm sure) remember, this was my favorite movie growing up, at least until I saw The Little Mermaid, so I was really excited about it. Well, it was pretty good and I enjoyed it. Some of the actors were better than others, unfortunately these were usually the supporting actors who were better. Max and the Baroness for instance, although Max was a lot older than he is in the movie so that threw me off! I have to remember the play came before the movie. There were a couple of songs that weren't in the movie, some of them quite good. But there was very little chemistry between Captain von Trapp and Maria, also Maria looked quite a lot like Hillary Clinton which was distracting. Also there wasn't as much development of their relationship as there is in the movie. I suspect a lot of that is those scenes they added in the movie would have been very boring on stage.

Overall it was really enjoyable, though. The main thing that struck me was how overtly political it was; much more so than in the movie. The Nazi question is central in the relationship of several of the characters, for instance it is actually the reason why the Baroness and Captain hastily end their engagement. The von Trapps' flight from Nazis becomes even more clearly the climax of the story; though, to be fair, my muddled view of things from the movie might have to do with those compulsive re watchings at the age of four, when I had no idea about anschluss or Nazis or anything like that. During the music festival scene, all these Swastika banners came down from the sides and the ceilings of the theatre, a very powerful evocation which made me a little bit uncomfortable! Also Rolph. In the play he actually doesn't betray him, but becomes compliant in their escape. A bit unfair on him then! Well, I actually think it works better but the logistics of theatre wouldn't have allowed for the heart-in-throat chase that ensues. Which is too bad because the nuns with the car parts are pretty much the best part of the whole movie.

Anyway a good time was had by all (me) and now I think I should work in a few more plays before the summer. It's globe season again!

I also realized that the Captain von Trapp would have been serving very near by stomping grounds during the FWW. Hmm...


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