Friday, May 15, 2009

Climate change

"Brian Harrison has a special gift which historians prize. He can turn the grains of history into fascinating and convincing patterns. How about this as an example of his grasp of the granular? From a journal to which I was hitherto a stranger, Heating and Ventilating Engineer, he has gleaned that in the UK, the 'average living room was over 5° Fahrenheit warmer in 1970 than in 1950'. In terms of what one might call the softening of Britain, this is hugely significant. Those of us on the rim of middle and old age can vividly remember living in homes with but one warm room enlivened by a coal fire and, on winter nights, leaping into bed and hoping to fall asleep before the chill bit, and waking up to patterns of frozen condensation on the window panes in the morning. I have been a weaker man since the winter of 1966–7, when the underfloor heating of St John's College's new Cripps Building in Cambridge corrupted me for ever."
From Peter Hennessy's TLS review of Brian Harrison's Seeking a Role: The United Kingdom 1951–1970, Oxford University Press, 2009.