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New fuel, men in black

I have been rushing about with last edits of the book. Suddenly we're asked, will it be called Share the Inheritance or Share Our Inheritance? You're right if you think it's a bit late to be changing the title - should it be called A Tale of Two Cities or London and the guillotine? Much Ado about Nothing or Set-backs in Sicily? Still, we're finding the comments offered by friends and luminaries to be helpful. Consequently, there are late-night conferences and as a result of all that needs doing, I'm a poor mouse with just a few bits of cheese to offer today -

Wouldn't it be nice if this proved true? The New Scientist reports that "Thomas Nann and colleagues at the University of East Anglia in Norwich" have created a "Sun-powered water splitter that makes hydrogen tirelessly". It would be wonderful and not even surprising if science rescued us from our economic mess by inventing a cheap and environmentally friendly source of energy. Scientists have done helpful things before this. (Thanks to Instapundit for the link.)

A friend of ours in Oddington reports that his eleven-year-old grandson was one of a number of boys and girls invited to study science and math at the University of Bath for a month. He's happy for his young sprout, who is also terrific at rugger. I'm happy to hear that interest in science is being encouraged - and that a boy who likes science is good at rugby.

When he grows up, the tailors of Savile Row will hope he heads their way and that they're still in business if he does. In How Do You Dress for Success, Sir? the Wall Street Journal reports on a documentary about the world of bespoke tailoring in London's West End as Abercrombie & Fitch's shirtless young men invade.

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Our favourite tailor is Thomas of English Cut, who left Savile Row to make suits for individual bodies at Warwick Hall.

The suit - its colour, its make and the man who wears it - has interested me ever since I read Luigi Barzini's startling confession -

"Black became the predominant color of men’s clothes on the Continent of Europe after the third decade of the nineteenth century. . . .The wearing of the black was neither a foreign imposition nor a sign of mourning. It was a spontaneous homage. . .The black suit was merely a symbol, a tacit admission of British supremacy in almost all fields, with the exception of abstract philosophy, music, cuisine, and love-making. . ." (Luigi Barzini, The Europeans).

Writers get carried away sometimes, but you'll have noticed that Barzini kept a few crucial fields out of British hands. There was, in fact, an indelible reason for the rise of the black suit, aside from the crucial fact that a black suit flattered a man by creating a body-slimming silhouette and was practical since it concealed dirt.

This was the fact that it had been worn by the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo when he met Napoleon and defeated him once and for all. Napoleon and his marshals were all dressed like peacocks on the field. Wellington wore a simple black civilian hunting coat. The battle appeared lost many times, but Wellington remained highly skilled and cool in deploying his forces. Having won the most decisive battle of the 19th century, the black suit easily proved versatile in handling business meetings, journeys, dinners, weddings, funerals, espionage and, no doubt on the rare occasion, lovemaking.

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When I'm walking through cold cloudbursts or deep in snow, David Austin likes to send me images of summer. This is William Shakespeare, an Austin rose "with a strong, warm Old Rose fragrance". I'm told his blooms turn a rich purple - "something rich and strange".

I don't know why I usually refer to a plant with the pronoun he. Perhaps because I think men need special attention and care? Beryl Markham describes a funny scene in West with the Night when she flew to the rescue of Blix and Winston, who had been stranded by floods in the African bush - "I had never realized before how quickly men deteriorate without razors and clean shirts. They are like potted plants that go to weed unless they are pruned and tended daily. . ."

But after all, using only bush knives the two had cleared a thousand small trees, some of them fifteen feet high, to make a hundred yard-long runway for her.

Perhaps I had better reconsider my pronouns?

And much else, you may be thinking. Oh, poor mouse!

Comments (1)

Katie:

Cat, I find it ironic that you referred to yourself as a poor mouse with just a few bits of cheese. Hmmm, I think the Cat is in control of the mouse, and the Cat should have her cheese with a fine glass of wine! I for one cannot wait for the book to come out, and am grateful if we readers only get morsels to chew on so you can focus on the book's release.

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