I am a nerd. Always have been. What distinguishes a nerd is his love of books, or their 21st century equivalent. This week, throughout London town, I browsed and tasted many in book nooks, libraries, and museums.


The Lindesfarne Manuscript, like The Book of Kells, is an illustrated copy of the four gospels. I like The Book of Kells better — its designs are more organic; Lindesfarne's, more geometric. Both show how their illustrators reduced the sea monsters of Viking raiders to miniature minotaurs. Such is the nature of our mythological minds — to turn death into life — and the mighty into the miniscule.


I have always been attracted to Books of Hours. To hold that much decoration in the palm of your hand, makes your mouth water, while converting you into an instant aesthete and dandy. Beautiful.


Da Vinci had his notebooks, I have mine, not as inventive as Da Vinci's, nor as secretive, but perhaps more illustrated. I have a few boxes of sketchbooks, some pedantic math notebooks, one of which continues to expand although I know very little about math compared to what a mathematician knows, but that's still more than double what the average American knows. My current math notebook is more practical than pure. In today's world, our notebooks are digital and interactive. We call these notebooks Blogs. This retro-journal is a blog, although so far I am the only commentator. What would Da Vinci have done with a blog?


The Shakespeare folios are not illustrated, but I wanted to throw in my two pence on the Shakespeare controversy. Could an uneducated commoner have written Shakespeare's plays without a college degree? I had rather ask, could an educated aristocrat have written Shakespeare's plays? Not likely. An educated aristocrat would be far too distant from common feelings and motives to even understand the plays. Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare character. Hamlet is about an educated aristocrat who has no clue about his motivations, and although intelligent, he could not have written his own play.


Alice's Adventures Underground is an illustrated manuscript and therefore a forerunner to 20th century comic books. I was hooked on comics in the 1940's when I bought the first Superboy for a dime. I had a huge collection worth zillions today, although a thousand comics only cost me about $100 then. I possessed all the Classics Illustrated till I swapped them all for a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. What did I know about future value, or value, or the future? I was just a nerd.


Sometime this week, at some bureaucratic office, probably the National Archives in the Kew Gardens vicinity, I looked up the Holt family crest. There's a squirrel in it. Holt is an old Teutonic name. Teutons were an old German war tribe like most old German tribes. In old English, a holt is a small clump of trees. I like trees. Am I a squirrel?