Today I put together a presentation on Ottoman diplomacy and oversaw the hatching of 20-odd chicks in my incubators; I worked on a proposal for a edited collection of articles on silence and censorship and watched a man expertly cut the head off a large cow; I agonised over how to reference Ottoman manuscripts in my bibliography and held a two-month old lamb as she died in my arms.
I am as interested in Ottoman textualities as I am in animal husbandry which is why when offered the chance to watch the knackerman take a brain stem sample I stood in a puddle of blood and maggots as he scooped out the right part of a bovine brain with a special Defra spoon. Then reeking of death I went to my local cafe to write about Ottoman historians and to speculate wildly on their literacy practices.
I thought about images today, but decided against it.
N.B. I am rather heartbroken over Aretha. She had got better, the scours had cleared up, the flystrike was caught early enough and wasn’t a problem. Then yesterday afternoon she appeared listless with mucus under her nose. She was no better this morning, but she waited until I went back to feed her some lunch before lying in my lap and dying. There is a thing that animals do just before they die a natural death – they cry out and spasm and you know they are letting go of life. As I held her, stroked her head and waited for her to die, I wondered who would hold me when the time comes.