CASHP Director's Blog: No. 1

By Bernard Wood
October 13, 2011

This is the first ‘post’ in what we plan will be a regular series. For those who know just how technophobic I am it will seem at the very least ‘odd’ that I volunteered myself for the task of sending regular communications into the ether, but as someone said once ‘a chap has to do what a chap has to do’.

Part of my reluctance is that I do not read anyone else’s blogs with any regularity, so I am not sure what blogger’s write about. Only yesterday I learned that blog is short for ‘web log’. I imagine blogs to be a kind of ‘public’ diary or an electric version of a soapbox. This seems odd to me because when I kept a diary I went to extreme lengths to make sure it did not fall into any one else’s hands. But I am of the generation that was told by my parents that when you are in a public place you should not speak loudly and I was given strict instructions to cross to the other side of the street if I saw anyone who seemed to be talking to themselves because they were likely to be what my mother politically-incorrectly called ‘a nutter’! These days when you take a walk in order to think something through it is all but impossible to find a quiet spot away from loud cell-phone conversations and to the unobservant most people these days would fall into my mother’s ‘nutcase’ category.

When I was a lad people who spoke in public on soap boxes (I used to work in my parent’s grocery store and some soap still came in large blocks inside sturdy wooden boxes. Soap was sold by weight and it was a bugger to cut into small blocks) were either politicians, preachers or they were the same folk who talked to themselves as they walked along the street. As a treat on Sundays we would take a bus ride into central London and go to the Marble Arch on the northeast corner of Hyde Park Corner to what was called ‘speaker’s corner’. It took bravado or conviction, or both, to stand on a soapbox and declaim in public. But here I am proposing to declaim in public.

The aim of the ‘Sideways Look’ blog is that it will deal with topics of interest to members of the public with an enthusiasm for paleoanthropology, to students and to really bored academic colleagues (and the people who regularly click on the ‘7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now’ link on the Huffington post).

It will not offer critiques of publications, but it will use publications or events as jumping off points for essays about topics that interest me. It will be personal and idiosyncratic and may contain the type of language I do (but probably should not) use in conversation (see above). It goes without saying that any views I or my colleagues express will be our own and not those of our colleagues or of CASHP or of GWU or especially those of the HOMPAL graduate students (who are probably already squirming with anticipatory embarrassment).