Having my trumpet blown for me.

In order to set the scene for the following story I need to reveal some details of the private life of the Renaissance Mathematicus. My radio alarm clock goes off shortly before seven o’clock and after having listened to the news I get up, get dressed and go out into the woods with the other half of the RM team, Sascha. When we get home I clean my teeth, make my tea, Darjeeling First Flush drunk black without sugar if you’re asking, and sit down at the computer, Apple naturally, for my first journey through the intertubes accompanied by the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. I have a set ritual of the order in which I visit various blogs, Wikipedia and my mailbox. On opening my mailbox I am usually confronted by a selection of messages from the history of astronomy mailing list (HASTRO-L), the Mersenne digest from the history of science mailing list, messages from the university library, private mails and spam.


A few days ago I had a mail from a sweetly named young lady informing me that the Renaissance Mathematicus had been selected for a list of the best fifty history of science blog sites, however on clicking on the link I discovered that the friendly siren was a spammer hustling for links to her website selling rotating bathtubs with built in rocket launchers or something like that.


This morning as I opened my mailbox, whilst sipping the life giving juices of my second mug of tea, I was confronted by a handful of mails from HASTRO-L on Columbus and the Ephemerides of Regiomontanus a debate in which I am one of the principle participants, an announcement from Mersenne of a conference in Gdansk in September on the 400th anniversary of Hevelius’ birth that I am seriously thinking of attending and a mail from the university library telling me that a book I had ordered through inter-library loan had arrived and was waiting to be collected. In the middle of all this was a mail from a guy I had never heard of with “Congratulations” as header. Spam was my first reaction and I almost consigned it to the trashcan without opening it, however curiosity got the better of me.


The mail informed me that I had won the Cliopatria award for the best individual history blog for 2010! Definitely spam! But I clicked on the link anyway to see what was on offer this time and nearly fell of my stool as I realised that I had really been honoured with a prestigious award from the History News Network. There’s an English slang expression that has become popular since I left the island that perfectly describes my feelings on finally becoming aware of what I was reading; I was gob smacked! In fact I’m still in a state of advanced shock now, eight hours later. All I can say is that I’m humbled and very, very honoured that anybody should think that my very minor contributions to the world of history in the Internet are worthy of consideration and am deeply thankful to the judges who have chosen to bestow this honour on my blog. But hey you guys what have you been smoking and where can I get some?


Of course it’s all really a mistake and tomorrow I will get an email apologising intently for the error as the award should have gone to a blog called “The Regency Mantelpiece” but somebody fucked up and because of the similarity of the names sent it to me by mistake but until then I shall bask in the glory of what might have been.



Filed under Autobiographical

21 responses to “Having my trumpet blown for me.

  1. Conspamulations. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow King Crimson fan.

    I call “The Regency Mantelpiece” a great name for a tribute band.

  2. darwinsbulldog


  3. Wow! And I thought I was the only one who could so easily flip the positive back into negative in order to uphold my convictions that in spite of all being negative it can only get worse.

    Congratulations though, even though I’m quite new to your blog I am already a follower!

  4. Congratulations! Definitely deserved.

    In addition to the prestige I think the award also includes a rotating bathtub with built-in rocket launchers; they’re popular these days.

  5. John S. Wilkins

    I bought one of those bathtubs. They’re great for invading countries while being clean.

    I used to use self-deprecating humour. Someone came up to me and said “scientists might take that as a way to get your message across, but this audience is composed of philosophers, and they’ll believe you.” I fear the same thing may be true of historians, so watch it. Revel in your glory.

  6. Will Thomas

    Thony, congrats! Richly deserved — keep up the outstanding work!

  7. See, posts like this is exactly why you deserved to win! I cracked up in the British Library and was partly met with malicious stares.

    Congrats again! And hey–maybe you’ll get a bathtub as a prize too!

  8. I always imagine you sitting in a Baroque Wunderkammer, looking like a cross between St. Jerome in his study (with Sascha instead of the lion) and the glum angel in Melancholia I. Now that you are becoming famous, maybe you’ll be able to afford to hang a stuffed crocodile over your desk.

    I greatly appreciate your website and I’m happy to see that others are noticing it as well.

    • Your description is wonderful and I would admit to a certain similarity to Dürer’s St. Jerome but my beard is shorter.
      Above my desk I have a b/w photo of Roland Shannon Jackson playing a shehnai.

  9. Innbranna

    Since it’s now been well over 24 hours since the announcement, I guess it’s safe for this longtime lurker to add my voice to the congratulations!

  10. Ian H Spedding FCD

    Belated congratulations on a prize well-earned. For me, you bring enlightenment to what were previously Dark Ages and that is worth far more than any rhetoric, however well-intentioned.

  11. Much belated congratulations. It’s well deserved, but I hope the fame doesn’t go to your head.

  12. Enough time has passed since the award so I can now comment on all the kind thoughts expressed above. Without my readers, their comments and their support The Renaissance Mathematicus would never have survived and flourished. The Cliopatria belongs to all of you and not just to me. Thanks.

  13. Just saw that you drink Darjeeling and particularly enjoy first flush – any recent first flush that is your favourite?

  14. jane rogers

    Congratulations! You know my mathematical knowledge is zilch but the historical aspect is intriguing. Will have to remember to read your blog in future just to find out what you are up to!

  15. Jacki Christie

    Many congrats little bro. Can I have your autograph? Now I know why we rarely hear from you these days. Well done you.

  16. Stella Christie

    Of course some one has been talking- you may even be able to guess who. Congratulations – suggest you go for the spa version of the rotating bath if you get the choice – it is much more relaxing.

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