Thursday, May 18, 2006

Researching in Vancouver


Vancouver’s a long way to come for the experience, but the Charles Woodward Memorial Room combines grandeur and privacy to a fine degree. It’s probably the one chilly place on the UBC campus in this current brief heatwave, the lights dim too, perfect conditions for rare papers rather than people.
J.S.Haldane’s papers are here. Who knows when anyone last looked at them? I have a clear sense of my story now, so know what fits it and what doesn’t. My writer’s eye is most keenly at work, looking for choice phrases and emotions clearly expressed—such is the volume of material I’ve gathered I know I will be quoting relatively sparsely. The main thrust of today was a batch of letters from mother to son, with a host of particular endearments. They were fine, though I see I am more alert to the science now—letters from the scientist uncle, Burdon Sanderson, came as a relief.
The size of Vancouver surprises me. I’m used to London and having my big cities walkable. The University of British Columbia is settled on its own peninsula, with many fine aspects over water and mountains. The university itself is closed till September so I wander around with people on conferences. The weekend shoud become lively—the transnational gay, lesbian and transgendered chorus movement is coming here for some mass singing.

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