The Gym, Bingo and More Byzantine History

My god I am absolutely knackered. I started working out today in order to get back into shape for America. I didn’t help myself (although I guess I actually did…) by walking all the way into town and then to the gym. We did about two hours of the usual lark and then finished off with some swimming, which almost killed me.

On the way home I saw some little gits messing around on the road. One dude dumped a traffic cone onto somebodies doorstep and then threw some rocks at it. Clever. I was really hoping that he would end up getting hit on the road…Or is that too much?

No, no it’s not. He deserved it and then some.

I recalled a funny little anecdote today. One day when I was about fifteen I was walking into town with my friend James on a rainy summer day. When we got to about a mile outside of the city centre the rain came down rather heavily and we took refuge under some random shelter and were soon joined by two attractive girls. Now, this was the golden age of adolescence where just talking to hot girls would earn you brownie points with your mates. So, I went to start chatting to these little lovelies- hey, they weren’t going anywhere. As I went to make my move, my buddy James just turned around to me and without any sort of shame said “shall we go to bingo tonight?”. My friends, NOTHING will make two fifteen year old girls smirk and laugh quicker. The thing is, if that happened nowadays you know it would be because my friend wanted to take the piss. With James however it was a genuine question…that’s what makes it even more tragic.

In my last post I dwelled on the legacy of Rome and how different cultures mimicked Roman Imperial titles to exert their own authority. Today I came across a refreshingly enthralling book on Byzantine history. I skimmed the first chapter and it seemed like the perfect book to introduce someone to the basic history of this medieval empire. The chapters were nicely broken down, starting with the birth of the eastern Roman Empire  and ending with the successful Ottoman siege of 1453.

Given that I have a working understanding of the subject, I was still interested in this text. If I hadn’t have been going to gym and thus short of space I probably would have bought it. For £10.99 you’re not going to go wrong, and this is coming from a guy who weeps whenever he pays more than £8 for a textbook of this size.

One thing I really liked about this book was how the author introduced it. Professor Judith Herrin tells of how one day two builders of the typical variety knocked on the door of her office in King’s College London and asked her just exactly what Byzantium was (she of course had the title under her name on the door). Herrin comments that in all her time as a lecturer she had never found explaining her topic so hard as she had to. dumb it down* into a ten minute conversation. The fact that she acknowledged that the topic only had a place in more specific and academic texts was refreshing.

*Herrin doesn’t use this phrase of course but I’m tired and unable to put it more eloquently.


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