This is always the worst time of year for me. February may get more daylight than December, but it’s four months or more since we had a reasonable amount of daylight and the cumulative effect of deprivation is getting to me, even with my SAD light box. I also have chapped hands and lips, despite using moisturiser and lip balm, although they aren’t as badly affected as they have been in the past. I want winter to end, even though I’m aware that the end of winter brings with it the Jewish festivals of Purim and Pesach, with all their attendant difficulties of religious OCD and social anxiety, as well as sometimes depression, not to mention the usual stress of Pesach preparation (seriously, Christmas has nothing on Pesach). It’s going to be super-hard this year, as Mum will probably in the midst of cancer treatment. Still, like it or not, Monday is Tu B’Shvat, a very minor Jewish holiday (not really a holiday at all) that nevertheless signals the start of spring, at least in Israel. Purim and Pesach are coming… and so is spring, if I can hold out long enough.
I had a Shabbat (Sabbath) struggling with Shoulds. I struggled to get to shul (synagogue) on Friday and Saturday evenings. I felt this was probably a good Should, as staying at home would be giving in to social anxiety and depression and make going again next week harder. I didn’t push myself to go to shul on Saturday morning though and let myself eat a lot of junk food, which I regret a bit now. I drank too much Diet Coke on Friday night too, which may have been why I didn’t sleep. After lunch today I was tired and a bit depressed and did the autistic thing I sometimes do of going back to bed and wrapping the duvet around me because it feels reassuring (I think that’s why I do that. It’s not always easy to tell). Inevitably, I fell asleep, although it was not my intention, and when I woke I had to eat seudah shlishit (the third Shabbat meal) in a hurry and was still late for shul.
More troublingly, I accidentally broke Shabbat twice, which was not good. One was too complicated to explain here and maybe not such a problem, but the other problem was that the phone woke me up this morning and my brain thought it was Friday and I answered it before realising my mistake, thinking it might be about my benefits appointment on Monday. It wasn’t even important, just cold-calling, ambulance-chasing lawyers, “Have you been in an accident that wasn’t your fault?” I’m not generally in favour of banning lots of things, but I wish someone would ban them. Anyway, I felt bad about breaking Shabbat even if it was accidental.
I was given the honour of gelilah at Minchah (wrapping up the Torah scroll and putting its decorations back on it after the Torah reading in the Afternoon Service), which made me feel a bit that I was receiving some kind Divine approbation after all the stuff in the previous paragraph, but I don’t believe that worldly honour is a sign of Divine approval; one can find honoured people who are not at all worthy. Hmm.
After Shabbat, I spent twenty-five minutes finishing another chapter of my novel, which I was glad to do. I’m still unsure how good it is, but E. has liked what she has read so far (not this chapter yet). I also spent some time (not sure how long) working on the bibliography for my Doctor Who book. While I was writing the book I had wavered as to whether I would produce a bibliography, with the result that my note-taking for one was fairly shoddy, I’m sad to say, as a librarian and a historian. Some references are just a title or a description, because I know my Doctor Who books and magazines well enough that I expected my future self (which is now my current self…) to be able to locate them and create proper references later if necessary without much bother. That plan now looks slightly stupid as I’m faced with digging through piles and piles of magazines to find particular articles. I do know where most things are, at least roughly, it’s just a pain to dig them out, especially as I have to move my bedside cabinet just to get to them. Later on I think I realised this was stupid and started constructing proper references that can just be cut and pasted in.
I started with a couple of these more finished references. The first to be polished and included in the bibliography happened by a nice coincidence to be an article by a friend who sometimes comments here. More problematic was trying to create references for some pages on the BBC website that turn out not to exist any more. I did get worried, as these were references to actual archival documentation that the BBC had scanned and put up, I think to celebrate Doctor Who‘s fiftieth anniversary in 2013 and really should be referenced. Obviously they had been deemed obsolete and deleted from the BBC website some time in the last year or two (not for the first time in Doctor Who‘s history). Fortunately, I managed to find preserved versions of all the pages via the Internet Archive. I was pleased with this, not least because I had never managed to find anything on that site before. So in the end I got five references done, which is the daily target I have set myself.
I’m not sure whether I could/should produce a reference for every single televised Doctor Who story (nearly 300, depending on how you define “story”), on whatever format I own it, not to mention other series where I’ve referenced them (e.g. the Cathy Gale episodes of The Avengers in a discussion of Sara Kingdom). I mean, I should, but I’m going to be here FOREVER if I do and, given that it’s aimed at the fan market rather than the academic market, maybe there’s no need. Can something this obvious be taken as a given? Hmm… Suggestions on a postcard (or comment) please!
I’m re-reading The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs. Disraeli on the two titanic figures of mid-nineteenth century British politics. I had been thinking about re-reading it for a while, as I couldn’t remember much about it, but Brexit and the prospect of major political realignment in this country and perhaps elsewhere pushed it up my reading list as I wanted to read about the previous realignment that happened after the repeal of the Corn Laws fractured the Tory Party with the Whigs, radicals and free trade Tories becoming the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party formed out of the protectionist Tory rump. I’m not sure if “It reads like a novel” is always a compliment for a history book, but in this case it is. A very interesting and readable account of Victorian politics.
So far I don’t find either Gladstone or Disraeli particularly likeable: Gladstone was a prig and bore and emotionally constipated even by Victorian standards; Disraeli on the other hand was a cynical opportunist. I find Gladstone easier to empathise with, though, as many of his flaws are my own: he also tended to see everything as a question of principle (once resigning from the Cabinet on a point of principle so trivial that everyone thought he had just destroyed his career for no good reason, but then voting in support of the legislation he had just resigned to oppose apparently because he thought he shouldn’t vote against his party), struggled with human contact and beat himself up endlessly about fairly normal aspects of sexuality. Again, hmm.