September 20th, 2011

plovdiv

An eighteenth century incident

On the recommendation of Lois McMaster Bujold, I got hold of the autobiography of Davy Crockett, and was stunned by this account of one of his uncles:
By the Creeks, my grandfather and grandmother Crockett were both murdered, in their own house, and on the very spot of ground where Rogersville, in Hawkins county, now stands. At the same time, the Indians wounded Joseph Crockett, a brother to my father, by a ball, which broke his arm; and took James a prisoner, who was still a younger brother than Joseph, and who, from natural defects, was less able to make his escape, as he was both deaf and dumb. He remained with them for seventeen years and nine months, when he was discovered and recollected by my father and his eldest brother, William Crockett; and was purchased by them from an Indian trader, at a price which I do not now remember; but so it was, that he was delivered up to them, and they returned him to his relatives. He now lives in Cumberland county, in the state of Kentucky, though I have not seen him for many years.
Presumably James Crockett was not actually deaf, but had a severe learning disability. In any case, it is extraordinary that the Cherokees decided to spare his life after killing his parents, and the mind boggles at the circumstances of his seventeen years as a prisoner/slave. I imagine that long-term captivity of whites by Native Americans wasn't that uncommon, but surely the captors would have generally preferred to take those they could communicate with more easily.

Note also that this account was written in the 1830s; James Crockett was still living then, almost sixty years after his parents were killed in 1777. He may have been very young at the time, of course, which makes it even more extraordinary that his brothers recognised him in 1795 (when his nephew David would have been nine, old enough to remember the discovery of a long-lost uncle); though I find one source suggesting that he was born in 1758 and died in 1830 (so David, writing in 1834, was not up to date with family news; or the source is wrong).


Anyway, it makes me realise how little I know about care for those with learning disabilities in the past. (See here for a much earlier period.)
earthsea

September Books 15) The Sharing Knife: Passage, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Somehow several years have passed since I read the first two books in this series, so a lot more time has passed for me than for the characters. But it is relatively self-contained; our newlywed heroes, Fawn and Dag, travel down river and further explore the nature of the powers shared by Dag and his people, while also delving a bit further into human nature and the relationships between two groups of people who have been brought up to regard each other with deep suspicion. Satisfying but relatively undemanding.
war

Dalek prototype

I had a pleasant breakfast with tnh, pnh and Abi over at Pendrift's the other day, and our hostess mentioned that she had seen what she described as a 'granddaddy Dalek' in the Royal Military Museum, ten minutes' walk from my office.

I popped over at lunchtime to look at it myself, and it's clear that it's one of Davros's earlier designs - the Mark One, Two or Three, perhaps.



In fact it's a German artillery piece from the 1890s, set on rails (not sure if that's for transport or to deal with recoil).



There is just space inside for a small German (or Kaled) soldier:



But it must have been rather uncomfortable. Also, noisy.
plovdiv

September Books 16) The Way Through The Woods, by Una McCormack

A good, spooky Who story, one that you could easily imagine being an episode from the current series - indeed, it has a number of plot similarities with The Girl Who Waited which I suppose is coincidental. The actual plot, concerning a mysterious woodland in which people vanish without trace every sixty years, is allowed unusual primacy over the regular characters, with most of the viewpoints coming from inhabitants of the village near the woods. Very nice characterisation of the Doctor. I must say that in general this year's crop of Who novels have felt more assured than last year's.