Stephanie Burgis
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For the first time in a few days, I managed to sleep through the night last night. Ohhhh, what a difference that makes! And I hope it's a sign that Nika's adjusting to the anti-inflammatory pills--it was the first night since she started taking them that she hasn't been crying and ill around 3 a.m. Makes me feel better about giving them to her...

We watched the second episode of Simon Schama's A History of Britain--the Complete Series on DVD last night. It was one of Patrick's Christmas presents, but I'm enjoying it hugely. If it's available in the US, I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys history programs, even if you think you're already very familiar with British history. The episode we watched last night ("Conquest") was about 1066, and it was absolutely fascinating--especially (depressingly) to see how much some things stay the same. When William of Normandy couldn't get enough military support for his invasion just on his own terms (land! resources! ours for the taking!), he turned the whole thing into an ideological crusade because Harold was "a despoiler of churches" and managed to get the Pope's seal as a Crusade to England to save it from its own evil ruler...then of course promptly took over, dispossessed the natives from all major posts and landholdings, and ordered mass slaughter of anyone who attempted revolt or even criticism, including some really, really gruesome massacres. It was the first time that people really talked (even in the Bayeux Tapestry, a major work of propaganda) about the horror of the damage done to civilians in a war. And there was one depressingly familiar kind of story--during William's coronation in Westminster Abbey, civilians outside let out a tradtional shout of acclamation. Unfortunately his soldiers, guarding the abbey, took it as a sign of a riot beginning--so of course they torched every building around them and started killing randomly. Meanwhile, his Norman chroniclers rewrote everything to glorify his actions as the pious king leading a great moral campaign and saving England from its evil former ruler...

Very awful and yet fascinating at the same time, extremely well-made, and very, very stimulating for story ideas. If you can get used to Simon Schama's personal physical tics (why does he keep tilting his head back and forth???) it's definitely worth watching.

On a totally unrelated note, I finished Chapter Fifteen this morning. The novel finally seems to be moving again. Hurrah!

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