Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Bleary-eyed in Madrid: on Catholicism, curiosity, and ghosts

There is probably some unwritten rule somewhere that you should never blog at 5 in the morning, but I see no real prospect that the Atletico Madrid fans celebrating their victory over Barcelona in the square outside are going to stop singing before dawn. Ah well, it is just one of those things you have to love about Spain. Also, I doubtless drunk too much coffee in this interview with El Pais during what is now yesterday. The headline (and ensuing comment) reminds me, as did a nice dinner with the folks at the Fundacion Telefonica discussing Franco and Catholicism, that some things are going to be perceived differently down here in the south.

Needless to say, I’m not sure that I will exactly be retiring from football in order to spend more time with the Internet… And it seems that there is no way now that I’m going to prevent people forever suggesting that I am/was the “editor of Nature”. But Javier was a very nice chap, and I’m not complaining. Anyway, this is all an excuse to mention the lovely quote that I found yesterday in Roger Clarke’s wonderful A Natural History of Ghosts. He says that the shade of the dead brother of Robert Boyle, Lord Orrery, once appeared to Boyle’s sister Lady Ranelagh. Boyle, one of the key figures in my book Curiosity, responded to this news in typical fashion by asking his sister to pose a series of metaphysical questions to the ghost when it next appeared. She duly did so, whereupon the ghost replied “I know these questions come from my brother. He is too curious.”

I was delighted to find that Roger Clarke, like me, grew up on the Isle of Wight, and so knows all about the local ghosts there. I have another one for him, of which more later.

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