Weekend Reading XXXXIX

by uber

Movie Posters as Fluorescent Signs

Can’t decide which I like most…

Would Lincoln have survived the bullet today?

An intriguing notion; impossible to judge the consequences of Lincoln not having been shot. Like Kennedy, but to a lesser extent, the sad fact of their murder adds to their heroic qualities as Presidents.

Dr. Scalea believes that recent advancements in trauma care discussed below would not only have saved Lincoln’s life, but would also have restored much of the President’s neurological function.


This article, and presumably the book it reviews, is full of fascinating facts. It really is the day to day of history that disappears, and only later do we realise that when it’s gone, it’s very hard to piece together what things like servant-master interactions truly were like.


As late as World War II, even country-house air raid shelters were organized by rank, from “First cellar: . . . Wilton carpet, upholstered armchairs, . . . a ration of best bitter chocolate, . . . a Chinese lacquer screen concealing an 18th-century commode,” down to “Third cellar: for chauffeur, boot-boy, gardeners . . . a wooden bench, wooden table, an electric bell connected with first cellar in case owner should wish to summon masculine moral support, . . . no screen.”

James Boswell’s Alcohol

The level of consumption is mind-blowing, though not unique. I can only think that spirits must have been less strong, or men very much stronger. Boswell’s diaries are a worthy read.


The levels of consumption were at times prodigious. On October 13, 1783 there were three men at dinner at Auchinleck, and between them they polished off three bottles of claret, two bottles of port, two bottles of Lisbon, three bottles of Mountain and one bottle of rum. Three days later six men sat down to dinner, but did not rise until they had emptied seven bottles of claret, two “Scotch pints” of claret (each of which was equivalent to three English pints, and thus to approximately two normal bottles), three bottles of port, one bottle of Lisbon, two bottles of Madeira, one bottle of Mountain and one bottle of rum.

Urban Exploration in Scotland

I often pass Boland’s Mill during the week, as it is in my neighbourhood. I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to go inside and peer about. I definitely think that I would like to see the catacombs of Paris some time.


The motivations in all of this are various and often unspoken. Why trespass into these places? Because of a love for danger, because of a hatred of surveillance culture, because – à la Mallory – they are there. In the end, though, perhaps the ultimate reason is a lot simpler. What, after all, could be more natural than a thirst to see the hidden and forbidden, to rub one’s fingers in the dust of forgotten places and leave, for a time, a small token of remembrance?

“Curiosity is a human thing,” is how Alastair puts it. “At some point you’ll look back and think, ‘I’m glad I went there. I’m glad I saw that.’”