Paraphs and Russell Square  

Library All Day Long

Well, I was there waiting when they opened the doors of the Library at 9:30 and then got to sit outside the Manuscripts room until 10, which is when they open. (Odd thing about England that way. They will have different opening hours and closing hours for several days out of the week, but there is no pattern to it.) Tomorrow everything opens at 9:30.   If there is another scholar wanting that manuscript--I defy him to get to it before I do.

The manuscript is presenting some new puzzles. The ugly squiggly lines (see today's photos) on the Latin fragment have been added later, but they are probably tracing over some tidier red lines that had faded out so much you can't see them anymore. There's also a dark red C (I've settled on calling that a "capitalum sign" in my notes.) in the English version of the song.   While all the rest of the capitalum signs and gallows paraph marks (That's what I've settled on calling the P shaped mark) are in a faded red that is more like pink. And even those are inked over a hash mark in the same color ink as the text.

What does all that mean?

Well the scribe wrote the poem out and he put little hashes next to the start of each verse, and each chorus, so that you could see where they started easily. Then the guy with the pink ink, came and made paraph marks (fancy way to say, "section marks") over the scribes hash marks. Then at some later point, somebody with DARK red ink came and inked over some of the stuff that was fading out.

Why should anyone care?

  Well, it means that the original scribe went out of his way to very very clearly mark out the form of the song as a carol.   He also used a LOT of punctuation, (which I'll have to look at when I get home.) And whoever the dark red ink guy was, he found it irksome that the red was fading out. Maybe because it wasn't pretty anymore, or maybe because he had trouble "performing" the song with the lines faded out. So he drew them back in.

The paleography class was SOOO the right thing to do before trying to deal with this manuscript. I'm recognizing all kind of things that I didn't see on the facsimile. Mostly just because I know what it is when I see it!   The English version has a crap load of abbreviations that I didn't notice, because I just didn't know to look for those symbols. So my scribe does a bit of uncial, a bit of Carolingian, a bit of stuff that leans towards the Latin diplomatic abbreviations.


Frighteningly, I'm having no trouble with the coughing fits at all. It could just barely be possible that it's stomach related. I'm eating a lot of dairy that I don't normally eat, and a lot of bread. But I'm also eating crap loads of spicy Indian food.

Really, I think I have to say I'm just not having allergies as bad here. Of course, it takes a while to become allergic to someplace.

Post Office

Mailing postcards is harder than it sounds. I've been in class or working in the library every work-day from before the post offices open, until after they close. So tonight, on the advice of the desk clerk, I wandered down to the Russell Square post office. Sure enough, I could see the stamp machines, but it was all locked up. They just keep bank hours. Perhaps I'll try again tomorrow morning.

Breakfast Conversations

The girls from India who went to Brighton said they had a good time. It wasn't too cold. They said they walked along the ocean and then 15 minutes after they got in the tour bus, they were in the mountains.

LOTS of people here now. Today is the first day of the summer term for London University. Amusingly, almost all of them are from the States. The Pub nearest here was crammed with 18-22 year olds.   Also amusingly, they can't go anywhere without the whole group, so the door to Connaught is often blocked with a group of 20 or so of them.   The sound of blow driers echoes on my floor now.   They drank all the orange juice and ate all the eggs and fruit before I made it down to breakfast today. Must get up earlier I suppose.


Cambridge in the morning tomorrow. See the campus, poke around. Then take a train over to King's Lynn and meet Jim to do a walking tour of Margery Kempe's home town. Then back to Cambridge for dinner, then we'll take the late train home.   That's the plan anyway.

Today's Photos