Oxford: Musicology and Eccentricity

But not necessarily in that order.

The Museum of the History of Science is here in Oxford. I had intended to visit the famed Ashmolean, but as someone hunting about for an antiquarian birthing machine, I really couldn’t pass up the special exhibit: Eccentricity…Unexpected objects and strange behaviour

The library also had a running exhibit a few months ago on SteamPunk. That would have been interesting to see, given the brilliant screen play writing Andrea and I have planned for June and July. There was a CD you could purchase of it, but the curator wasn’t sure what was on it (and it was a bit dear), so I left it be. So much of that is accessible on the internet these days (though I really ought to be appalled by that, being a scholar of history and a lover of antiquated books and devices–ah, bundle of contradictions that I am). I would have stayed a bit longer, but my sojourn to the gardens meant I got there near closing time.

Fiddling About

I had intended to spend a quiet evening in with a pizza, but I received word (and a better offer) from a colleague of mine, Dr. William Poole. In case of confusion, this in Wm. Poole the Oxford Tutorial Fellow, not Wm. Poole (aka Bill the Butcher) of New York City gang-land, circa 1850. Dr. Poole works in the period before mine, but overlapping it: 1509-1832. I am more in the 1690-1890 range. We have some overlapping interests as well, and he has a number of quite good books out (my personal favorite is The World Makers about Restoration science. On my to-be-read list).

Poole has some less-well known talents, too; he recently took up the Irish fiddle (that is, a violin with an attitude).

Last night was a night for playing, you see, and I was invited to come along. We met at the King’s Arms for a pint (or two) and then traveled down  to another pub, where we took up residence on the musicians’ bench–and had a cider (or four). Now, if you know me at all, you will recognize that the musicians’ bench is not really the place for me. I can barely play the radio. I can sing, however, and so I produced a few Irish folk songs as an offering to the gods of musicology. I don’t know if the gods were impressed (can sing and should sing not always being equal), but I had a few applause from some after-exam (and slightly less than sober) students. We ended the evening back at the college, listening to Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)–what extraordinary work! I was not familiar with this composer before, but I am a newly professed convert. One needs deeply spiritual music in this field.

On the whole, then, a hugely enjoyable evening, and I hope to hear more of Poole’s fiddling fame when next I visit Oxford.

Promised Picture Link

And, now that my Oxford leg is at an end, I supply the promised gallery of snaps. Onward to London by train (at the uncongenial hour of 7am), and then to Paris. More is coming, worry not.

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