The nights were cold this week, and so were the days; the sun, when it appeared, flashed like a coin at the bottom of a well, and the rain fell whenever it felt like it. It was really and truly November, though I couldn’t quite accept it. I walked down my street kicking acorns and attempting to reattach fallen leaves.
I kept thinking of the opening of Moby-Dick, when Ishmael declares it a damp, drizzly November in his soul.
In any event, when he rose to shake my hand — friendly, cheerful even — something cracked open inside me. “Congratulations on the book,” I said. “It’s …” And that’s when a sob strangled the simple word I’d meant to say: “beautiful.”
“You can’t do that,” Mr. Biden said. He sounded strict. “If you cry, then I’ll cry,” he said. “We have to help each other.”
Hanson does not provide extended accounts of military campaigns. It focuses instead on the decisions about why, how, and where to fight the war, the diverse methods of warfare employed by the belligerents, and how the investments and strategies of each side led to victory or defeat.
The problem, Steve Roud explains in this monumental history of the English folk song, is that the material harvested from the late-Victorian fields turned out not to be so very old after all. In fact, you were lucky if you could trace a song’s pedigree back further than 100 years. What’s more, far from being as unadulterated as the water from a Yorkshire beck, these “folksongs” (a term barely used before 1891) turned out to be a mishmash of codes and styles. A song such as “Villikins and his Dinah”, which sounded like it had come into the world chewing straw, was actually written by the journalist Henry Mayhew for a forgettable stage farce called The Wandering Minstrel in 1834. The same was true of “The Jug of Punch” which started off as a music hall “Oirish” song and then slipped into the canon as the real deal.