Limits to my versatility


Possibly confused by the broad range of topics that I rashly attempt to cover (China, punk, ritual, Mahler, gender, Bach, and so on—see e.g. my roundup for 2021), just emailed me to ask, somewhat hysterically,

Are you the Stephen Jones who wrote “Evaluation of winter wheat breeding lines for traits related to nitrogen use under organic management”?

Now, just when you thought there were no limits to my versatility (as in “Is there no beginning to your talents?“), I may have fingers in many pies, but that’s not one of them. Nor, alas, have I ventured into millinery or playing guitar with the Sex Pistols. And it’s fair to say that these career paths will remain safe from me. The closest I get to evaluating wheat is slurping noodles with Li Manshan.

And now they’re asking me if I am the author of “Mutant mice that display early ageing-associated phenotypes”. Where will it all end, I wonder.

For some other articles I haven’t really written, click here; for fictitious early signs of versatility, here; and for variations on “You think I know Fuck Nothing, but I know FUCK ALL!”, here. The enquiry also reminds me of a question for Alan Bennett after a lecture he gave at Oxford on Richard II: “Could you tell me where you bought your shoes?”.

6 thoughts on “Limits to my versatility

  1. Rubbery! Errr, Lovely!! – A middle initial, if any, should help, and yet I got a cheque for a different David Hughes for a book review for the Times that I didn’t write (I’d done one for them a year earlier and had already been paid). And I’ve been confused with a couple other David Hugheseses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are absolutely right on two grounds: Yes, you “rashly attempt to cover” any topic that piques your sensitivities, which is sometimes amusing and other times tiresome; and yes, you do not have fingers in every pie, thankfully. Save yourself from Just change your name to Li Manshan. Adding a middle initial will not save you.


  3. has frequently congratulated me for a number of papers on testing potential vaccines for Ebola and AIDS in Nigeria. More recently I have apparently turned my attention to research on psychological phenomena and experimentation. I suspect that only a few of the 1,800+ references they congratulate me on have to do with viruses and scary psychiatric conditions rather than early Han models of tree coppicing and Ming horticulture. I try to be the Renaissance man, but on seems to go along with the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve also been inundated with similarly hysterical but less amusing messages by recently. And they’ve made it very hard to unsubscribe without canceling your account completely.
    Your Alan Bennett anecdote brings to mind a question that my Dean in Hong Kong asked Steve Feld after a distinguished lecture at HKU on his work with the Bosavi. ‘But how did you manage with showering?’

    Liked by 1 person

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