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What On Earth?


Today was spent mainly in Oxford, exploring with some visitors. We delved into the Natural History and Pitt Rivers museums, both always full of fascinating things and ate lunch outside with the very English accompaniment of a spatter of rain. Heading towards Broad Street with various plans in mind the rain continued and so we ducked into the first place on the list, the Weston Library.

They have an exhibition of pairs of things from their collection, such as the original draft of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est poem and a gorgeous illustration of a poppy, seen after WWI as a poignant symbol of that conflict, from William Curtis’ Flora Londinensis. Bodleian Treasures: 24 Pairs runs until February 2017 and is well worth a visit.

When we came out, it turned out to give us time to take in a talk by author and historian Christopher Lloyd, explaining the approach of his What On Earth? series of books and his wide-angle approach to history, including the relevance of what happened in the past to what is happening today and might happen in future. His teaching approach relied on a coat with large, brightly coloured pockets from which he invited members of the audience to pull out things on which to hang his point from a wooden axe (early habitation of Britain and the use of the axe to cut down forests and create agricultural and grazing land; how do our modern tools shape our environment for the future?) and a small iron (groan! Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, and the consequences of her deregulation of financial systems).

Definitely a speaker worth hearing and, for us, part of a day worth remembering.

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