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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Monday, 21 October 2013

Nervous reactions

Thursday, October 21st., London.

Rivers came to lunch at the Reform on Tuesday. He and Shufflebotham were talking about miners' eye diseases, etc. and Rivers said that the danger factor on the nervous system had never been properly taken into account. Shufflebotham said that he had been preaching it for years. Shuff said that you could always distinguish miners from potters on their way to early morning work. Miners had an apprehensive look. Potters would whistle on their way to work; miners never. It appears that someone has just pointed out in The Times that if you put the mines in order of frequency of accidents, and also in majorities for strikes. the two lists coincide! All this of course, so far as the miners are concerned, is chiefly subconscious. Shuff said that of course boys voted for strikes. They had not had time to become accustomed to the danger, and the instinctive reactions were very strong.

See also 'Laughing gas?', February 14th., -

W H R Rivers
William Halse Rivers Rivers, FRCP, FRS, (1864 -1922) was an English anthropologist, neurologist, ethnologist and psychiatrist, best known for his work with shell-shocked soldiers during World War I. Rivers' most famous patient was the poet Siegfried Sassoon. He is also famous for his participation in the Torres Straits expedition of 1898, and his consequent seminal work on the subject of kinship. Sassoon was deeply saddened by the death of his father figure and collapsed at his funeral. His loss prompted him to write two poignant poems about the man he had grown to love: "To A Very Wise Man" and "Revisitation".

I got frightened about the opening of my novel "Mr. Prohack" yesterday. But on reading it through I thought it wasn't so bad.

Additionally for October 21st., see 'Getting ready to write' -

I find that if I am to begin my new novel, "Clayhanger", on 1st Jan. 1910, I must make a series of preliminary enquiries. I do this perhaps at the rate of half an hour or an hour a day. I have read "When I was a Child", and all I need of Shaw's "North Staffordshire Potteries", and tonight I re-read the "social and Industrial" section of the Victoria History, which contains a few juicy items that I can use. I work on the plot itself about once a week when I have an hour and feel like it.

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