Friday, December 22, 2006

Back again

Starting to feel a bit brighter now, though not up to poking my sinusitis-prone snoz out of the door yet. The squirrels, after being slightly put-out by the square white baffles Batman put up, have got around the obstacles and are back on the birdfeeders. Darn it.We don't mind them, but they are taking food out of the birds' beaks.

Meanwhile I've been reading The Fifth Man by Charles Lagerbom, which is about Birdie Bowers, in Scott's Antarctic party. I kept shivering whilst I was reading it, not realising it was actually the on-set of a bug and not the effects of reading about the cold weather at the South Pole. Bowers, apart from being the smallest man, was also the youngest of the party. He was always optimistic, very hard working a real team-worker. He's my favourite of the party. Lagerbom's book, however, is not well edited and rather repetitive. I've just got hold of Seaver's 1938 biography of Bowers, so will have an interesting time comparing them. Seavers already scores over Lagerbom in illustrations. Seavers has some photos of The South Polar Times, complete with a cartoon of Birdie and penguins.

Talking of penguins, I've been watching Nigel Marven's Penguin Week on Channel Five. He's out in South Georgia, looking at three different types of the bird, plus other wildlife. In particular I like the king penguin chicks, especially when they get it into their heads to run around flapping their wings, seemingly for no reason. It may be to help build up their wing muscles for when they finally go into the water, but initially it just looks like they're having a very silly moment. Aw, sweet.

Marven hasn't mentioned if he's visited Shackleton's grave, which is on South Georgia.



At 3:06 pm GMT, Blogger Carla said...

Polar exploration seems highly appropriate, given the weather this week!

Hope you feel better soon, and Happy Christmas!

At 5:41 pm GMT, Blogger Sarah Cuthbertson said...

I'm a Birdie Bowers fan too. You're right - he was a proper team player, loyal, dependable and able, a good man to have on your side in adversity. According to David Crane's recent biography of Scott, he was also a racist. But that would have been typical of his time, especially as he had served in the Royal Indian Marine. His journal is in the Scott Polar Research Institute museum, and his pennant. It's moving to see all those artefacts.

At 1:37 pm GMT, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Oh no, he wasn't a racist was he? :-( As you say, it would have been virtually standard in those days. I nearly bought the Crane biog today (Sat 30th). Wish I had now! I read somewhere that Bowers' journals are being transcribed. btw, stop rubbing it in old gel - I know you've been to the SPRI and I haven't ;-) I'm not jealous (ahem)

At 7:01 pm GMT, Blogger Sarah Cuthbertson said...

LOL, I'm nagging you to hie yourself away to the SPRI as soon as may be. Just heard on the radio that Capt. Scott's family have given the SPRI his last letters to his wife and they will be on display there soon.

Please blog about Birdie Bowers' journals if you hear any more about them.

At 1:53 am GMT, Blogger Melanie said...

Birdie Bowers plays a big role in the newish YA novel "Surviving Antarctica". It's a futuristic setting but Bowers inspires the teens sent to the Antarctic.

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