Nuclear reactor holidays

Empire Magazine, June 2011. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Hmmm. This interesting tidbit gave me a moment of joyous pause. Given the frustrating ways in which the press (misre)presents what Mr. Armitage has to say, I’d be unsurprised if things he said were occasionally misunderstood. It’s frequently been the case that I read a statement as joking or ironic that others have read as completely serious. [Cf. “Armitage epistemology,” which I’ve promised Frenz I’ll get back to later this summer. I also think that the “banana” statement is a red herring. I have no proof, however, and would love to be proven wrong.] But this is the kind of detail I love to read. It makes the pictures just swirl in my head.

Of course, the word “holiday” made me think of Lucas’s holidays with his father, mentioned in Spooks 8.4:

And thinking of that made me remember what Pam said back in the day when we were trying to figure out how we felt about the possibility that something was “off” in Lucas’s backstory: that no grebes are to be found in the Thames estuary North Kent marshes.

And then I thought of all the vacations (sorry, British readers, we call time off from school or work “vacation” in the U.S.) when I had the comparable Servetus family experience: my dad was not into nuclear reactors, but if two things ever occurred in the path of any vacation we took, the Servetus family was there: caves (which often were very interesting — Mammoth Cave and Carlsbad Caverns come to mind as especially memorable) and locks (which were not. Though maybe today I’d find them more interesting). Today I find this amusing — and I also remember that my parents very much exerted themselves to find vacations that were affordable and interesting to all of us (Knoxville World’s Fair, 1982 — that was really cool, and I can still sing the jingle I learned in the Australian exhibit) or to us children as well (I remember half of a week spent camping around Springfield, IL, in the footsteps of Lincoln, for example, that also included two days at Great America, to please my brother) — but as a child I can also definitely remember thinking, while standing at the entrance to some less memorable cave: really? another cave?

Aerial view of the Soo Locks, with Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada, on the left, and Sault St. Marie, in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, on the right. The locks connect Lake Superior and Lake Huron. I never saw them from this angle, but I was there repeatedly as a child: on our family vacation, and to show them to visitors! Because they are SO NEAT! (That is an ironic statement. I’m sorry, locks lovers, if this reaction hurts your feelings. Please do not write in to take me to task.)

Hmmm. Nuclear reactors: why Armitage glows in the dark. Locks: why Servetus spent a lot of time trying to avoid family vacations after she was about fourteen or so?

Where did your parents take you in pursuit of their own fascinations? And how has it affected your life?

~ by Servetus on July 6, 2011.

40 Responses to “Nuclear reactor holidays”

  1. This is not exactly OT but not quite on either. It was when you wrote about “locks” that it brought to mind the “Falkirk Wheel”. Check it out – I think you might actually have found this one interesting, Servetus!

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    • It started because I’m working on a longer post about these press interviews and their discontents, and i thought this was a really cute detail that quite possibly was taken out of context. (See discussion below.)

      Will google “Falkirk Wheel.” In defense of myself I will say that I took a Hamburg harbor tour as a mid-twenties gal and loved it.

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  2. Re “no grebes in the Thames estuary” – I think the writers just didn’t do their homework. No way can Lucas 7&8 be John Bateman. There are lots of grebes in the Austrian lakes, btw. (I don’t think they live in rivers), especially these:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Crested_Grebe

    They are sweeties. 😀

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  3. Servetus, gosh, this is the first time I’ve been quoted on a blog! I think it was the brackish marshes of the north Kent coast vs the lakes of Cumbria (like Nietzsche’s Austrian lakes) that worried me. You certainly get Great Crested Grebes on the non-tidal freshwater Thames at Kingston.

    I’m off to examine documents on officer/ranks relationships in WW2 at the National Archives today with my mate from University of Birmingham so happy discussions.

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    • Must look for them next time I am in England! 🙂

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    • first time quoted a misquote, huh, Pam 🙂 I reread the statement and it is a bit ambiguous. You were worried that no one would vacation in the North Kent marshes and that people who wanted to see grebes would be very satisfied in Cumbria and not need to go further. I’ve changed the quote slightly to reflect this 🙂

      Hope you had a great day in the archives!

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  4. I’ve been to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario many times and also several times have crossed over the bridge there to the U.S. Holidays in my family were usually spent going to southern Ontario to visit family (sometimes that would mean going through the northern states to get there). Other years we went west, sometimes all the way to B.C. We saw a lot of varied things, my parents weren’t stuck on any one thing. I, however am guilty of dragging my children to a lot of historical sites that they weren’t very interested in (but I of course was)!

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    • I would drag my nieces to the historical sites around here if they were just a bit older. Their parents aren’t interested, but we have several good living history museums within driving distance.

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  5. First I have to say–Knoxville World’s Fair, 1982. I was there, too! I wonder if young Servetus was wandering about the grounds at the same time my mom and I and my dad’s cousin and his wife were enjoying ourselves? I remember best some of the Asian exhibits–the figurines that were buried with the nobles, including the soldiers and horses.

    Most of our vacations were either to Pensacola, Fla. or to visit my mother’s family in Crossville, Tenn. I adored my Tennessee relatives and remember the summers always seeming cooler up on the Cumberland Plateau . . . when I went back as an adult the climate had actually shifted and it was as hot and muggy there as it was here. 😦

    We worked in side trips sometimes to other places–the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, the Great Smoky Mountains, and yes, we saw Rock City (Fairyland Caverns sort of scared me, actually) but I don’t remember going to Ruby Falls . . . 😉 My parents didn’t have a particular interest or obsession–I guess family was the chief interest.

    I am amusing myself imagining a young Mr. A traipsing along through those nuclear reactors . . . but he does rather glow, doesn’t he? 😀

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    • Maybe that’s the reason for his radiant skin? 😉

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      • LOL and I just thought it was regular exfoliating and moisturizing 😉

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        • Regular skin care is much better for your skin than radiation, but my mother told me last year when all the shit hit the fan around here that her doctor thinks one reason that she’s having a certain kind of health problem has to do with her being exposed to radiation regularly in the mid-1950s: as a treatment for acne.

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          • Wow! I didn’t know they once prescribed radiation treatment for acne.
            My oldest sister had quite a time with it and I remember she was told to swear off chocolate and French fries, which we later found out didn’t really make any difference.
            My other sister and I had the occasional zit, but nothing like what she had to deal with (I think she must have inherited that from her father’s side).
            I was blessed to inherit my parents’ good skin and I have tried not to take it for granted.

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            • When mine didn’t stop by the time I left for college, my mom took me to the doctor and he prescribe (gasp) tetracycline. I bet they wouldn’t do that anymore either.

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              • I doubt it–tetracyline is a drug I am allergic to, along with all sulfa drugs and penicillin. It doesn’t make me go into convulsions the way the penicillin did as an infant, but I do break out in some dandy hives.

                They used to prescribe Accutane for a lot of people with acne problems, but as I recall it caused some health problems, too.

                Don’t know how well that stuff the various celebs hawk on TV works.

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          • Radiation for acne? Yikes! Acne was the bane of my existence from age 10 to late 20’s when I went on the Pill. Strangely enough my brothers has no problem.

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            • I don’t know why acne strikes some members of a family and not others. I think Deb must have inherited the acne from her dad, along with the glaucoma she has been battling for years. Here’s the down side to being the product of artificial insemination with an anonymous donor–lack of medical history on one side of your family. It’s been a struggle for her dealing with it sometimes.

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    • Funny to think we might have been there on the same days! I remember the China pavilion, too. Somewhere in storage I still have the pictures I took of the very large animals that guarded the exhibit. We stayed with a local family that was doing some sort of church fundraiser. You could stay for much less than a hotel / motel and they socialized with us and made us breakfast. They were really nice. The breakfast included grits which my brother and I had never seen before and definitely did not like. We were, however, polite 🙂

      Loved the Smokies. We went there, too. All our family lives within about a hundred mile radius, so we didn’t go on vacation to see them. My father has 62 first cousins (his grandmother had 17 children that survived to adulthood), so we saw them all the time 🙂

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      • I’ve got those World’s Fair photos in one of several photo albums I have assembled over the years. I do love the idea I might have seen you or you saw me, and little did we know . . . 😀
        Grits–lol–you know my mom is from Tennessee but she never had grits until she came to Alabama. I grew up eating them and love them, but they are an acquired taste (I also like mine with lots of butter and a dash of salt and pepper). And there is nothing more unappetizing then cold congealed grits.
        Because my mom’s family was only an hour or so away, we stayed with them while we were at the fair.

        Wow! And I thought I had a lot of cousins! My dad had nine siblings who lived to adulthood, and Mama had eight. Because they were among the younger siblings, many of my first cousins are old enough to be my parents.

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        • I like them now, mixed with cheese 🙂

          My mom always said it was a sad story, that his grandparents “didn’t know when to stop.” Apparently the last pregnancies were all miscarriages, stillborn, etc., but they kept on going. They had a farm and needed the labor. It might have been jealousy on her part; her family was very small and is now tiny (she’s the oldest surviving member of her nuclear family and of all her cousins).

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  6. You remember those ‘kids have no say in where we go’ vaca’s too, huh? ours were usually spent in taking both Springfield and St. Louis (had relatives there) or fishing somewhere in Wisc. and of course the weekends spent wandering through the sea of junk at the seven mile fair off hwy 41- Great America? I used to work there- I was in fact one of the first 100 people they hired when they first opened- (Thus qualifying me to be in the drawing for the brand new 1976 Gremlin they were giving away to one lucky employee)- Yes hon,I am from glorious Gurnee, Il. of course that was back when it was nothing but farmland- don’t look like that now.- thus the reason we moved south- Richard would have loved the place back then

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    • Ah, fishing in WI — my favorite morning pastime at the moment 🙂

      Love that you worked at Great America! The big sensation that summer was a new rollercoaster they had just put in, if I remember correctly it was called the “American Eagle.” I loved the idea of it, but didn’t so much like reality. I do remember that it felt like it was practically in the middle of nowhere.

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      • Six Flags had the Great American Scream Machine–a really big wooden coaster. I have a bit of a thing about heights so I never rode it. That’s why I liked Runaway Mine Train. It didn’t go really high, but it was fast and jerky with twists and turns that gave you a rush.

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    • Sounds like you had the same vacations my brothers had as children. I think my older brother must have gone to that fair because he was enamored of flea markets for the rest of his life. I recall when Great American opened, out in the middle of nowhere. There was a confusing off ramp in the northbound highway and drivers I was with missed it every time. The American Eagle was such a BIG deal. I’m a roller coaster freak so I was a happy camper.

      Also recall when Gurnee Mills opened. It was great to finish ALL of my xmas shopping in one day although I recall the hard wood floor was hard on the feet.

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      • I totally forgot to mention Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta! Many a day trip was made there after they opened . . . I am not really a coaster person, but I loved their Runaway Mine Train. 😀

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  7. I don´t know how to interpret these kind of quotes. My mind turns them into this kind of reality:

    Smart journo: *complimentuous after seeing dwarfleader act* “Do you know you glow in the dark?”
    RA: “That´s because I used to go on holiday with my dad to visit nuclear reactors.” *stare*

    What´s ´fact´ now?

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    • Right up with you Violet, when I first read it, my expression was “ok… O_O”. Not as it is a bad thing or a good thing, just something I didn’t expect to read.
      Probably that quote is taken from a bigger quote in a context/conversation so I would find sense.

      My vacations have been more about nature sightseeing, tasting typical food from the town and their local festivities.

      OML 🙂

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    • yeah. that was kind of my reaction, too — this can’t possibly be interpreted only literally. But still, I love the idea of a child or teen Armitage traipsing around with his dad to visit nuclear reactors 🙂

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  8. My phobia deriving from my childhood is mountains. My parents loved to make day trips to the alps and walk up mountains. I did not really see the sense in it back then, as when you walk up a mountain, you just have to go down again ;o)
    You see, the beauty of the mountains was a bit lost to me back then and I was more interested in all the flowers, the wildlife and jumping up and down the path, while my parents already were quite breathless ;o) Oh, and I forgot the collecting of beautiful stones. That together with my sister was a real hobby and we always had our pockets full of stones ;o)
    With museums you could always have me. With locks, as soon as there was water, I was fascinated and had been hard to get away again.

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    • I agree with you, CDoart — why climb something that you just have to descend from 🙂 but I am a pretty serious flatlander. I don’t completely “get” the fascination of mountains, and in some parts of Switzerland they make me feel closed in, claustrophobic. I think you and I are in the minority 🙂

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      • There is a little problem with me. I am not a real ‘flatlander’ either. When I cannot see anything around me but horizon, I feel lost in space. I need some soft hills, to feel comfortable and not totally lonely or meaningless. Though I love to travel the world, I always feel relief when I have soft hills surrounding me. Strange thing that I search for a piece of ‘home’ everywhere ;o)
        In the pre-Alps the mountains are nearly always visible in the background and you can even determine the coming weather from how they appear. Though directly in the Alps the mountains can really be gloomy and when a storm comes, I always can understand why the Celts thought the heaven would come down onto their heads.

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        • CDoart,

          I think you would like where I live. There are many gentle, rolling hills in this part of Alabama, lots of green pastures and lots of trees, both deciduous and evergreens.

          Living in South Dakota, we had the plains of one side of us and the mountains (the Black Hills) on the other. And you could see for miles and miles and miles . . . it was hard to adjust to the prairie and so few trees.
          The Black Hills are a lower level mountain range, so they don’t overwhelm like, say, the Rockies do.

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          • Angie, that countryside you describe really sounds lovely and very beautiful !!! What a wonderful place to live. Your description creates such a vivid picture in my mind about the Black Hills. Thank you!

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            • Ah, you are welcome, my dear. Of all the places we lived while Benny was in the Air Force, South Dakota is the place we’d like to go back and visit.

              From our backyard, you could faintly make out Mount Rushmore, a very famous monument featuring the faces of four presidents carved into the mountain. In the summer time, we would sit out there on the patio and watch the lights of the cars as they drove up for the special lighting ceremony held at night. Like giant lightning bugs . . .

              In the winter time, we would get in our Blazer with its four-wheel drive, and travel the snow-packed roads up to Mt. Rushmore, We had the place all to ourselves. It was amazing. Cold, with those northerly winds constantly blowing across the mountaintops, but amazing. 😀

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        • As you know 🙂 Wisconsin has a lot of rolling hills. I like it a lot. Still, I like better the edge of the prairie, or the desert west of San Antonio, where you can just see for miles and miles, or East Frisia 🙂

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          • Once I want to visit a desert with ‘nothing’ around me but lots of sand and flat space. It must be really flattening to see, how small one is in the universe and I want to experience that once (I fear it a bit, so hopefully only once and I hope I can get out safely again). But my sub-conscious search for small hills alerted me to how strongly my home area determined my perception of other regions. I watch them more consciously since I figured out why I instinctively bonded with some and did not feel comfortable in others.
            I loved Wisconsin, with all the lovely lakes. It is a beautiful region and the whole experience impressed me very much! It was there at one occasion that I for the first time recognized I ‘needed’ hills.

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  9. […] to the U.S.-Canada border and cross the locks into Sault St. Marie. Yes, you’d be living out a Servetus family vacation. But it will be cooler there. And the shores of Lake Superior and the lake itself are among the […]

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  10. […] circus), and we have been to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo several times. Circus sites are on dad’s list with locks and caves as vacation sites always worth visiting, since he saw a circus as a little boy. I’ve seen a fair number of circus museums (the San […]

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