Hello there, thought I had better put my cheeks to the Internet seat and squeeze out another one of these. I have spent the week down at the National Archives pretending to be an historian, not that it would matter if I was pretending to be a crack riddled homeless, they aren’t too fussy down at the National Archives. Quite a lot of specimens. Perhaps I am being unfair, everyone is made to carry their things around in see-through plastic bags which makes it feel like a cult for the uncomplicated. Nevertheless most of the staff are very helpful, I haven’t had to wait unreasonable amounts of time for my materials and I get my own desk (46C, thanks for asking).
As for my actual work, its a relatively new experience. I’ve used archives before of course, but never this intensely over such a short period of time. By my calculations, over the past three days I have spent 21 hours there. Just realised that’s actually quite a lot. And I’m going back there tomorrow. Christ.
One thing that I have concluded is that I should probably avoid all forms of gambling in the future. Every few hours, after having read page after page of irrelevant drivel I start to lag. “I’ll go have a drink” I think to myself, or I begin to consider having an extended piss break, “I could go to the other toilet, I haven’t tried that toilet”. Not too long after this however, I start to get this sick feeling, one that I have usually associated with adrenaline (which I usually associate with the sound of footsteps gaining on me at night, after all, I’m a pretty boy). And rather like those late night ordeals, I begin to contemplate the consequences of not quickening my pace. If I just keep going then surely, eventually, I will find something concrete, meaty and full of promise just round the corner (clearly I have here inverted the male rape scenario, clearly). So I pick up my pencil, pull the bandits one arm, and continue counting the lemons. What is more this situation seems to only be getting worse. Every time I do manage to find something genuinely exciting it makes it easier to overcome the next slump. Soon I’ll be able to read nothing but departmental memos for 36 hours straight, and afterwards all I’ll ask for is to see the handwritten originals from which they have been typed. After all, there might be a revealing doodle, or some handwriting peculiarities that denote emphasis or a fucking deletion!!
Tomorrow is my last day in London and not content with just the one archive I will be starting the day over at the V&A. They have a limited number of files that I need to check (about two) and to do so I’ll be making use of one of their swanky reading rooms. This is the equivalent of one of those nicotine dispensing electric cigarettes; it’s cleaner, better for my health and returns me an element of self control that I have clearly lost working at the NA. And yet, even now, with my determination to reform ascending fully and brightly in my chest, I know that all I will want is to be back amongst the faded jumpers and sandals and endless talk of the Somme. After all, what might I miss if I don’t just check the next page?