Corona Diary, Day 17

Wednesday, 1 April

I worked on a small job for a private customer. It’s so quiet that I’ve decided to accept some categories of work such as school certificates that I’ve avoided in recent times (after working out that it took 10% of my time and produced 1% of my income). I may have to revisit this issue anyway now that I live in Uppsala, where there are not so many authorised translators.

And then more office administration, identifying, labelling and making an index of the storage boxes on top of the cupboard in my bedroom. It’s good to know what’s there and where it is but I’m not really satisfied with the result as the boxes are different sizes and with white labels stuck on them, it doesn’t look harmonious (it’s a rather pleasant west-facing room with afternoon light where I have all my books from Latin countries, most of them from France so that I can lie on my bed on a winter’s day and think about Aix-en-Provence and another life.

No sooner has the word “ramshackle” come to mind for my storage shelf than I have to check its etymology. It’s early nineteenth century and connected to “ransack” which is apparently a combination of an old Norse poetic word for house or home (rann) and a variant of the word that has become “söka” (to seek, to look for) in modern Swedish. The “sack” in ransack raises associations of bearded berserks looting and burning but it seems to have a more pacific origin. A little bit of etymological fancy does me the world of good but the storage boxes are still ugly so I think as soon as things return to some semblance of normality that I’ll buy boxes of the same type, covering them in the meantime with one of the pieces of cloth that I carted back from India.

I toy with the idea of trying to sort out a box filled with family history documents which has needed sorting out for about a quarter of a century. Opening it and realising that this is the archival equivalent of sending an army to try to invade Russia (ill advised and bound to end in tears), I give it up for the time being and try to sort out my medical documents instead, but that’s doesn’t fire me with enthusiasm either.

I do feel like a change from office administration, however, so I decide to write up some of my notes on Dorset churches tomorrow (Thursday).

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