I discovered one mildly interesting thing recently (it mildly interested me, anyway). In pre-modern Scandinavia, the spinning and weaving year began on 25 November, a date engraved upon my mind because it is St Catherine’s Day (patron saint of spinsters, and also the patron saint of my school): every 25 November, the words for ‘Let us now praise famous men’ and ‘For all the saints…'’ (I was in the choir) trot through my head. Spinning, followed by weaving, occupied women’s lives from then till the spring. I have just got to the end of week 10, which has not been any kind of fun since the cold has not actually gone away, but contemplating the lives of pre-modern Scandinavian women at least makes one feel a little better about it. It’s raining, again. But the cheerful thought is that there is now only two more weeks of this hellish term to go — rendered hellish not by students, colleagues or even administrators, but simply by being more or less ill through most of it. However, the Christmas book has gone to the printers. We are quite pleased with it.