This weekend, in temperatures that wouldn’t have disgraced Sicily, London seemed to pant like a labrador in need of its water bowl. My Saturday, however, was spent in the sepulchral cool of the British Library. Sometimes, it can be crowded.

Numbers go up during university terms and reach a crescendo before exams. Students, you see. Don’t they have their own libraries to go to? But, on that sunny morning, the place was deserted… except for one young man playing an iPod through little earphones that allowed a mosquito-like buzz of opera to escape. Opera? We have a better class of student in Rare Books and Manuscripts.

My interest was the Royal North Devon Hussars. One of the soldiers on the Lydford war memorial, which I’m researching, fought with them at Gallipoli. I say fought: this strapping countryman-
a stonemason and footballer-died of dysentery a few weeks after arrival. Between August 1914 and September 1915, the regiment was on the Essex coast, in case of a German landing.

Sunday took us to Ely Cathedral to celebrate 650 years of the Cambridgeshire magistracy. There were fanfares and a procession of high sheriffs and judges (as we arrived late, my mother-in-law, a magistrate of long standing, brought up the rear in a wheelchair.) Pity those in robes and wigs.                                                 

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