I watched a rather good documentary about the history of chemistry last night. I think I learned more in an hour than I learned in a year- or was it two years?- of studying the subject at school. If someone had explained- at the beginning of things- what chemistry was and why it mattered and what the point was of heating test tubes over bunsen burners I might have got somewhere with it. Last night's programme fired us up with a narrative in which loonies groped in the dark for the secrets of the material world, did mad things like boiling up vats full of urine and discovering phosphorus by mistake, then handed on the uncompleted puzzle to the next loony - as if it were the baton in a relay race. It was stirring and exciting. Go Paracelsus! Go Boyle! Go Lavoisier! This seems to me like a really good approach to any subject. Give us people we can cheer for- and the rest will follow.
Talking about uncompleted puzzles, I find I'm lying in bed worrying away at crossword clues. Last night I woke around midnight, solved a couple of humdingers that had been making my waking brain hurt, then went back to sleep again. I guess it'll only be a matter of time before I'm doing the damn things in my dreams.