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IRAN: Ebrahim/Simon

Friday, May 19, 2006

Good days and Bad

On Tuesday I received the referees reports from the publishing company who have taken the manuscript of my new book. I started the book in about 1999 and it has mutated a number of times since then. At one point it got so long I had to divide it into two - one short and one long book. The short one is rather 'light' and will be accessible to quite a general readership, the longer one is more difficult and more specialised. But Tuesday was a bad day because two of the four reports the publishers commissioned were very critical indeed. I was devastated. They didn't seem to like what I had done at all - and I was worried the whole thing was going to collapse. But over the next day it became clear to me that they were seeing the text as trying to do something it was not trying to do - and it is true: if it had been trying to do what they thought it was doing it would be a failure. Fortunately, my publisher agreed that the criticism seemed ill-judged and he is not going to abandon the project. On the other hand, the fact that the readers had so misunderstood what I was up to suggests that I have a lot of work to do explaining what I am doing. Well that's ok. So I'm now going back over the whole manuscript - and hopefully it is not going to require too much root and branch change to get it in better shape. But I was rocked for two days, and slept badly as a result. I feel much better today.

posted by Simon @ 10:34 am    1 comments

Monday, May 15, 2006

Conference and Football

I had a very busy week last week with commitments each night. That did not make my family happy. To really make it worse I was invited to give a paper at a conference in Manchester - some 200 miles away - on Saturday. I was the first to give a paper - at 10.00 in the morning, so I had to travel up by train on Friday night to be there and ready. The paper seemd to go down well - although I think I had enjoyed rather too much hopitality from the hosts the evening before...

Half-way though the day's events it became clear that the football cup final, the FA Cup, between Liverpool and West Ham was not only on the TV in the next room but was turning into a classic game. The participants at the conference took a vote and on a fairly sizable majority decided to watch the rest of the game and delay the final paper. The man who was to give the paper seemed happy at the time. But I suspect he would have been less happy had he known that half the audience would simply go home after the football. I don't think the organiser was very happy either.

On the other hand: it was a brilliant football match, and it was great fun watching it with a big crowd of fellow philosophers. Their language lost some of its analytic rigour at various points...

Are you still taking part in this project? I haven't heard from you in a while.

posted by Simon @ 10:34 am    0 comments

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Posh Dinner

I had dinner last night at one of London's old 'gentlemen's' clubs - called the Reform Club. In its origins and heyday it was a meeting place for people from all political parties who were in favour of reforming the electoral system to allow votes for women. As you can imagine the originally all male club was the first to admit women as full members. (Women had always been allowed in as guests there - which was not true for all such clubs, some of which were until very recently strictly men only.)

These days you only have to be in favour of reform in a very formal sense to join. As I understand it, at the end of the interview for candidate members they ask if you are in favour of reform - and you have to say yes.

The building is very grand, located in a very grand road in London called Pall Mall. (The correct pronunciation is - I think - to rhyme both words with the 'al' sound in Alan not the 'all' sound in Paul. However Pall Mall runs parallel to a road called simply 'The Mall' and there is dispute over the correct pronunciation of that. Rather posh people call it the 'The Maul'...) Anyway, you enter this great big building into an enormous atrium hall. There is a sort of common room/library where you can sit and read the papers with a drink while you wait for friends and dinner. A couple of old guys were writing letters at a table and another very old guy was asleep in the corner.

We went to dinner in a dining room that seemed to belong to the 1970's, or earlier - there was a menu option called 'the trolley' which members seem to like (something is served off a wooden trolley, a sort of table on wheels...). The food was ok if rather 'school-dinner'ish.

The occasion for my visit to this odd place was business. I am the Director of the Forum for European Philosophy and we are currently looking for private donations to help fund our activities. Last night was a meeting with a potential donor. I quite liked him. A sort of self-made man who didn't suffer fools gladly. He said that nearly everything written in political science could be swept away without it making any difference to the world. Well, it is true that there is much too much written by academics these days which is splitting hairs and has no obvious point. I called it 'landfill' - which he liked. Maybe he will be a donor for the Forum. We'll see.

posted by Simon @ 10:54 am    0 comments

Friday, May 05, 2006

Birthday Boy

It is my youngest son's first birthday today. He has been very ill this year and there were times when we just did not know how he was going to get better.

At Christmas - in fact on Christmas day - he was sick (on his grandmother, ahem) and then was sick after every feed for over a month. We took him to hospital three times - but each time they said: it is a virus (then a secondary and then a tertiary infection). But his weight went down and down. He is 75th percentile in length and went down to 2nd percentile in weight. Terrible. Then one night he was sick again and my partner said enough is enough. She took him to hospital where they finally admitted him for observation.

Without major tests they judged that he had a 'reflux' problem (food coming back up from the stomach to the throat) and probably an intolerance to milk proteins. So we got medicine and removed all dairy products from his diet - and slowly slowly he has been getting better. Two days ago he seemed to me really 'better'. He is now, I would say, better. He has got better.

And so today we will have cake (no milk, no butter, no eggs!) and ONE candle to blow out.

My lovely son Albert.

posted by Simon @ 3:57 pm    0 comments




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