Sunday 12 March 2017

Pandiagonal magic squares

The last week started on Monday evening with Simon Armitage (cool portrait on his website, do go and see), a Manchester Literature Festival event to launch his new collection 'The Unaccompanied'. Julie and I have seen him several times before and it was an excellent and entertaining evening, where I resisted buying the book. 

Monkey and I have been hard at work learning the capital cities of the world, so she made me a birthday cake with a map on it; she was disappointed to be unable to fit in Greenland once America was stuck on, but Africa is excellent. There were candles to mark specific capitals that I mainly failed to get right.
Then we did a charity shop trawl around Chorlton and came home with quite a substantial pile of books. I am particularly pleased with Paul Auster's New York Trilogy and Sebastian Barry. Candide and the two Asimov are for Monkey, and Ulysses is just to sit on the shelf for that moment when I feel inspired to tackle something hard.

Today Julie took me out to Elizabeth Gaskell's House to see a performance called 'Exploding Women', part of the Manchester Histories Festival, produced by the dynamic duo LipService Theatre. The show presented the chequered history of Manchester women of science, including Caroline Birley, Marie Stopes, Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker and Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw (The pandiagonal magic squares are one of Kathleen Ollerenshaw's significant contributions to mathematics.) We also had an interesting conversation with one of the volunteers at the house, about Mrs Gaskell's friendship with Charlotte Bront√©, and, after my unexpected enjoyment of Emily Dickinson's biography this time last year, I am definitely inspired to read her biography of Charlotte. 

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