March 17th, 2021


Whoniversaries 17 March

i) births and deaths

17 March 1942: birth of Ken Grieve, director of Destiny of the Daleks (Fourth Doctor, 1979)

17 March 2011: death of Michael Gough, who played the Toymaker in The Celestial Toymaker (First Doctor, 1966) and Hedin in Arc of Infinity (Fifth Doctor, 1983). He was also married to actress Anneke Wills.

ii) broadcast anniversary

17 March 1973: broadcast of fourth episode of Frontier in Space. The Master has the Doctor and Jo captive, but all three are captured by the Draconians.

iii) dates specified in-universe:

17 March 1898: death of Mary Eliza Millington in The Curse of Fenric (Seventh Doctor, 1989).

In 2010, an exhibit on Vincent van Gogh opened at the Musée d'Orsay, as seen in The Lodger (Eleventh Doctor, 2010).

Also, for the day that's in it, my guide to Ireland in Doctor Who written in 2019 (therefore missing last year).

The origins of St Patrick's Day

Just a brief note on the day.

It's well known that St Patrick's Day parades were originally a diaspora phenomenon, and the first really big parades were in the eighteenth century in the USA. But the first recorded celebration of St Patrick's Day in what is now the United States was a good deal earlier. St Augustine, in Florida, is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the contiguous USA founded by Europeans, in 1565. It was a Spanish settlement, but in 1600 the parish priest was an Irishman, Richard Arthur, known as Ricardo Artur locally; and he invoked the protection of St Patrick (rather than St Augustine, after whom the town was named) for the settlers. Local historian Michael Francis has found records that Artur organised public celebrations of St Patrick on 17 March 1600 and 1601, including a public procession in 1601. It's not quite St Patrick's Day as we know it; there was not much of a diaspora in Florida, and the tradition ended when Artur left the town. But let's take a moment to think of the weirdness of that historical moment.

More locally to here, the Irish College in Leuven claims to be the first place to have celebrated St Patrick's Day as a diaspora festival, with a public sermon in around 1610. The Franciscans at the college were certainly instrumental in helping Luke Wadding to persuade the Vatican to make St Patrick's Day an official feast day of the church. There were Irish colleges elsewhere of course - most famously in Salamanca, Lisbon, Douai and Rome itself - but Leuven claims the earliest documentation, and as they are my neighbours I will take their word for it.

Most years there has been much celebration, both by the college in Leuven and by the Irish community in Brussels. Last year's St Patrick's Day was exactly when the lockdown was imposed, and this year things are not a lot better yet. Here's hoping for 2022.

My tweets

  • Tue, 12:54: Tremendous detail here. (Would like to see the same for Belgium.)
  • Tue, 12:56: RT @cult_edge: Sad to learn of the recent passing of writer James Follett. James wrote two episodes of Blake's 7 - Dawn Of The Gods and Sta…
  • Tue, 13:12: RT @AyoCaesar: Julie Burchill abused me for being Muslim - but at the time, the press made her out to be a victim of 'cancel culture'. Ou…
  • Tue, 14:00: 90 hours left to nominate for this year’s Hugo Awards! If you were a CoNZealand member, and you want to nominate, check now to make sure that you are in the system.
  • Tue, 14:36: Wow, lots of wrong decisions being made here!
  • Tue, 17:11: Microbes Unknown to Science Discovered on The International Space Station What could possibly go wrong?
  • Tue, 18:22: Nebula finalists: Goodreads/LibraryThing stats
  • Tue, 19:55: RT @singharj: EXC Dominic Raab has told officials in a video call leaked to @HuffPostUK that Britain will seek trade deals with countries a…
  • Tue, 23:32: RT @GMB_union: BREAKING NEWS: Uber has finally done the right thing. From tomorrow, all 70,000 Uber drivers will be paid holiday time, be…
  • Wed, 00:00: 80 hours left to nominate for this year’s Hugo Awards! If you were a CoNZealand member, and you want to nominate, check now to make sure that you are in the system.
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Science Fiction: The Great Years, eds. Carol and Frederik Pohl

Second paragraph of third story ("Old Faithful", by Raymond Z. Gallun):
The two messengers who had come to his workshop that afternoon had not seen into his heart, and he received their message with the absolute outward calm that was characteristic of his kind - at the end of forty days Number 774 must die. He had lived the allotted span fixed by the Rulers.
I got this in 2014 because the last story, "A Matter of Form" by H.L. Gold, was up for the Retro Hugo for Best Novella that year (beaten by the classic "Who Goes There?", which got my vote). It's a collection of seven stories from the Golden Age, published between 1934 and 1953, all by men. The weakest is an early story of Pohl's own, "Wings of the Lightning Land"; several of the others have aged poorly, including Eric Frank Russell's "...And Then There Were None". I don't especially like Kornbluth's "The Little Black Bag" but I think it's a well-executed story. You can get it here.

This was the sf book that had lingered longest unread on my shelves. Next is another anthology from another era, Kaleidoscope: diverse YA science fiction and fantasy stories, eds Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios.