Hola from what really is a scorchio Spain. We hit 40 degrees at the start of the month, and it’s stayed around there for most of July (which is an improvement on last year where we hit 40 degrees in May…as you may recall from previous blogs, on my wedding day…not ideal!). You find yourself appreciating the days like Saturday where I went into Madrid and it was a pleasant 33 degrees, even considering taking a cardigan out with you! I’ve been having a competition with myself to not use the AC for as long as possible, like a certain friend of mine does in winter in the UK to see how far into December she can go before putting the central heating on, and I did pretty well. I made it until last week, but then when it was still 35 degrees at midnight, I conceded that a bit of AC to help me sleep was acceptable.
Anyway, the hot weather is a perfect excuse to head to one of the local outdoor municipal pools and read in between dips to cool off. You may have seen on the SRP social media channels that this month I’ve been reading The Unlikely History of Radium – Half Lives by Lucy Jane Santos.
Often, I struggle with reading non-fiction books, as the friend of UK winter heater-competition remarked recently and I identified with, I’d rather get that information from a podcast and read some fiction to “escape”. However, I started this book on the plane flying back from Manchester to Madrid and it was so good I raced through about a 1/3 by the time I landed 2.5 hours later. I then had to go back and reread it at home so I could make notes on some of the more interesting facts. I teach the Radiation Training courses at Jacobs and there are some brilliant gems in the book that I’ll be using in the sessions. I like to think I have a good collection of “radioactive items” from the heyday of “Radiomania”, but Lucy beats it, and the book features some great photos of items she’s acquired. I was able to tick off a lot of items I already have in my collection, but now my “to find” list has increased a bit, I’ve added a few more search alerts to my eBay account. I do love this topic, so already knew quite a bit about the subject, but did manage to learn a lot. One of my favourite anecdotes recalls the 1904 Technology Club’s Annual Dinner at the height of Radiomania. After the meal, the lights were dimmed and glow in the dark dancing skeletons and balloons entertained the guests, then came the piece de resistance, the shot of “Liquid Sunshine”. Each guest had a miniature mug at their table containing a capsule of aesculin which the organisers claimed had been exposed to radium before the event, and a glass of sparkling water. The guests were told to add the capsule to the water where it would infuse the water with radioactivity. Aesculin, an extract from horse chestnuts, fluoresces blue in a similar way to tonic water under a UV light in a nightclub, because of the quinine content. It must’ve been an impressive sight to see all the glowing glasses raised that evening in a toast. Once the toast had been made and the shots of Liquid Sunshine downed, the guests continued their evening singing songs while a conductor kept them in time with his glow in the dark baton. Sounds like a great party! An idea for Eastbourne’s Annual Dinner maybe?!
Have you read the book? If so, send me your reviews on firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you have any suggestions for what to read next. You may have noticed that the SRP social media pages are a bit more active. I’m trying to post more regularly now. I gave myself the action of getting to 400 Instagram followers before the next Communication Committee meeting, and so far, we’re on 395, so if you don’t already follow us, please do! Also, please send in any suggestions for content, and keep liking, sharing and commenting on our posts. It’s great interacting with you all on there.
Have a great summer everyone!
Director of Engagement