Thursday, 19 April 2012
The great Prof. Derick Thomson is dead. I never met him, but was exposed to his work when I was learning Middle Welsh and Scottish Gaelic as a graduate student; he produced one of the most useful student editions of a major medieval Welsh text, Branwen uerch Lyr, for the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, and a slew of crucial works on his native Gaelic, including the excellent A Companion to Gaelic Scotland. A great---a very great---man.
Monday, 2 April 2012
Sitting in my parents' lovely sunny kitchen at midday. My father is drinking his first glass of wine and singing his usual śvānagita or Song of Dog ('Who's a lovely doggie? Where's the lovely, beautiful big doggie?? Go on, bring me the slipper, yes, the slipper, there, no, the SLIPPER, oh, for God's sake, you miserable useless bastard bloody hound, the slipper....')
I myself am typing the book, and contemplating the astrological weather. That conjunction of Jupiter and Venus has been having a lovely time rocking back and forth over my natal Sun-Chiron in Taurus, making an exact aspect yesterday with my Moon-Mars-Jupiter conjunction in Leo. One might have expected a stroke of good fortune, but I was nevertheless a bit wary when an elderly friend of Mother Williams asked if I would like to have a look at his Anglo-Saxon library, because he wanted to divest himself of it and would like it to go to a good home.
We trotted round yesterday afternoon, and my hopes were not much higher than a moth-eaten copy of Heaney's Beowulf. What I actually got was £3,000 worth of superb academic hardbacks on every aspect of Anglo-Saxon life and literature, including many long out-of-print volumes which would cost £30-50 on abebooks. These included a FULL RUN of the crucial, heavyweight journal Anglo-Saxon England. I've just gone from having a threadbare Old English library to having---I'm pretty sure---one of the best in Oxford. I was speechless with gratitude, and I am trying to think of what I can send as a present to say a very heartfelt thank you.