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edward-gibbonI see that today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1737, of Edward Gibbon.

As I believe I mentioned the other day, I have picked up again on my long wade through his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.   And I must say that at times I find Gibbon’s style – very often arch, snarky and superior – to be somewhat tarsome.  Heresy, I know, especially as his writing was admired by authors such as Waugh and Churchill, but there it is: After a while I simply want to slap that smug smile off his face.

Coincidentally, I also happen to have jumped back into my reading of Francis Parkman, currently making my way through his France and England in North America.  (At the moment I’m deep in his description of the hell the French and their Abenaki allies played in southern Maine in the 1690’s trying to throw out the New Englanders.)  Parkman could be every bit as critical of what he saw as institutional and individual vice, folly and shortcoming, and yet his style of presenting such criticism over the course of several thousand pages is much more pallatable to me than Gibbon’s.

This isn’t to say that I’m not going to finish Decline and Fall, because I am.  But I sometimes look on reading it as a chore rayther than a pleasure.  I’ve never had that sensation with Parkman’s works.

suit What with the temperature cranking up to the 90 degree mark the past few days, I started thinking again about summah suiting and the perennial question: Is this the year Robbo goes seersucker?

I confess that for many years, as much as I liked both the look and the comfort of seersucker, I simply could not work up the nerve to wear it.  For one thing, I have long been of the opinion that one must either be of a certain age or else possessed of a certain natural, physical flair in order to pull it off successfully.  Having neither of these attributes, I always feared that I would simply come across as a first class dork.

For another thing, the fact of the matter is that decked out in such suiting, one is going to stand out.  And although I seem to have no trouble handling attention here in the blogsphere, in the Real World I have never enjoyed standing out, preferring instead to make my way through life in quiet anonymity.     

This year, though, I find that I am much more open to the idea of donning the ol’ blue and white.  I’m not sure I’m ready to start appearing on the Metro for the morning commute in such a rig, but I certainly can see myself wearing it for Church and social do’s.  Perhaps if I don’t see people pointing at me and snickering in such settings, I can gradually work my way up.


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April 2009