Friday, 4 February 2011


I was walking down Portland Place the other day and there it was, a big handsome brass plate: ‘Anaesthesia Heritage Centre’ Opening hours were given but with this caveat: ‘An appointment is recommended.’ Well you would need one wouldn’t you? The website recommends ‘Blue Plaques and Buildings: a history of anaesthesia walk around London’.

Ah yes, the ‘anaesthesia of heritage’. I first came across this institution on Beverly Rowe’s website where, among other things, he has an extraordinarily comprehensive list of museums in London. I’m sure it was the ‘Museum of Anaesthesia’ then, but we must move with the times. When I was teaching in East London, pupils’ ‘mother tongues’, Bengali, Punjabi or any number of others, were referred to in official documents as ‘heritage languages’. It’s a deeply ambiguous term.

Raymond Queneau is part of the ‘heritage of modernism’ I suppose. Beverly Rowe has updated his diabolically ingenious English versions of Queneau’ sonnets. He writes: You can now get new randomly-selected sonnets at a set interva. I describe it as a slide show. When you select that option, the poem is refreshed every two seconds but you can change the interval. . .With the extra sonnets and line shuffling, there are now 261,245,548,225,364,000 possible different sonnets.

I suppose this raises the question whether there is perhaps a ‘crisis of productivity’ in poetic output? I was struck by this comment from Laurie Duggan on his ‘Graveney Marsh’ blog: In its rhetoric of constant innovation it resembles nothing more than the ethos of late capitalism, where redundancy has no connection with utility.