Back when I lived with my Aunt my little stash of wines were regularly raided by her. Not because she had any problems with me having that stash of wine, it was after all something my father made me build, but because she needed drinks for her social life. Today she turned up on my doorstep, passed me by in the hall, and headed straight for bottle collection.

Auntie always repays her ‘borrowings’, and often with interest. It has happened several times that she has carried cheap bottles of Chianti out of the house, and returned with Gran Reserva of something. Once she took a really cheap bottle, and replaced it with a £60 wine.

The reason for this invasion of the bottle snatcher is simple; my cousin is now months away from tying the knot with her girlfriend, and the cousin is over this weekend so that mother and daughter can plan a huge bash together. What makes me warm and fuzzy is that the inspiration for these nuptials is Mark’s and my marriage last year.

So, slightly after our one year anniversary, we’ll all head to Brighton to celebrate my cousins transformation into a properly married woman. Which is funny because of the five cousins in our generation, three of us are gay. I and the Brighton cousin now have our job; to lean on the Scottish cousin in London who is single and care-free. We can’t have the one remaining gay cousin sowing his wild oats like that, can we?

But today Auntie had more pressing needs in that she didn’t have a drop in the house, and so she was here to raid my stash. It’s like she’s not heard that Tescos and ASDA is open till four p.m. on Sundays too.

***

Mathematics is often driven by a puzzle scribbled in the corner of a page. The puzzle is taken up by generations of mathematicians who try to solve the riddle. One of these was Pierre de Fermat’s last theorem, which he scribbled down in a copy of Arithmetica in 1637. That doodle wouldn’t be solved until 358 years later, in 1994 by Andrew Wiles. Before that, it had occupied countless mathematicians.

In a certain way, all of science works like that. The famous saying is true. Science isn’t defined by Eureka moments. It’s defined by seeing something, and saying ‘Oi. That’s funny….” The discoveries of science is not about sitting in a chair and thinking up beautiful unassailable logic. It’s about dropping down into a bear-pit where nothing makes sense, and then figuring a way out.

Mark has toyed with Fermat’s theorem lately. While I jot down little things in my notebooks which may one day become novels and stories and articles, he jots down little things in his notebook that becomes numbers and equations and matrixes. In a way, it is funny, because it’s like we’re night and day sometimes. I’m a creature of the right-brain, and he’s a creature of the left-brain. Never the twain shall meet in the middle.

***

Apart from invading Aunts, today has been quiet. We had Stephen over for a bit, but he was unusually quiet and Mark and him watched some television, and then he left. There’s more revision to do, and I’m working on my end of term paper.

The paper is about the people in The Union Workhouse in this town. There are actually reports and narratives of this institution which closed in 1930 when the poor laws of this country were repealed. A certain Daniel Picket off this town, lived in the local poor house, but were then moved to Stratford-upon-Avon where he would come to run the work house there. From the records, he did an unusually admirable job – maybe because he was used to living in the institution?

There is a literary angle, of course, because the work-house was the reason Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist. It is just fascinating to contrast the real world workhouse of the records and diaries and letters with what Dickens wrote about. And no, if anything Dickens was mild when he described the conditions.

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