Well, I was supposed to be going to the gym today, and making a start in Special Collections with various histories of the R.A.M.C. which are held there. The gym plan foundered on the fact that I have left my trainers at home. The library plan has gone west due to the fact that I have also left my netbook behind, making note-taking an extremely laborious process, and something of a redundant one as I will, at some point, have to transfer any notes taken on to a computer anyway.
I can’t actually say I am sorry to be missing the gym. It is a grim, drizzly Monday and the thought of trudging off in this weather to put my body through half an hour of discomfort does not appeal greatly. The missed library trip is a bit more troublesome. I reached something of a crisis point at the end of last week when I realised that I currently know more about the history of both the Red Cross (British and International) and the St John Ambulance Brigade in the first two decades of the twentieth century than I do about the R.A.M.C. in that period. I do know that, after the debacle in South Africa, there were major reforms, associated with Haldane’s other army reforms, but I definitely need more detail on this if I am to properly understand the place of the R.A.M.C. within the wider military structure. This is vital at the moment as I am struggling to get to grips with the differences between non-combatance and neutrality in relation to the medical services, and the extent to which various medical services were answerable to a national military force as opposed to a wider humanitarian mission. If I am to have any understanding of the role of voluntary services during the war, I need to have a much better understanding of the political position of the army medical services first. Actually, it might not be a bad idea to get a sense of the place of the military as a whole in British society, so if anyone can recommend a good history of the Haldane reforms, please do let me know.
In the meantime, lack of portable computing (or at least portable computing with a decent keyboard) means I will be hunkering down in my office with 700 pages on the history of the International Red Cross and a book review to write. There are worse ways to spend a drizzly day, I suppose.