12 Years of Blogging

My blog’s anniversary has seemed to come round very quickly this year – Twelve whole years – Eek! As always, a huge thank you to everyone who pops by, you are always very welcome.

To celebrate, some thoughts on my favourite instances of the number 12…

12-based number and timekeeping systems

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Although dealing in tens is simple, dividing is difficult due to the lack of factors of the number 10. Whereas, twelve is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and itself – 6 factors facilitating halving and quartering and dividing into thirds, all with no fractions or recurring digits. We may use metres and kilos these days and (new) pence having gone decimal in Feb 1971, but twelve lingers on in our mathematics in measurements of angles, nautical distances and time. We often still talk about yards and acres rather than metres and hectares. This was brought home to me recently when I read The Maths of Life and Death by Kit Yates – reviewed here, and the more I think about it, the more I like twelve in this way.

All our timekeeping divisions have twelve as a factor, be they seconds, minutes, hours, days. In our year, we have twelve (lunar) months, and there are of course, twelve signs of the zodiac, the Chinese zodiac also has a twelve year cycle.

Also, don’t you just love the word ‘dodeca’ from the Greek for twelve? Back in my Dungeons & Dragons playing days, twelve-sided dodecahedral dice were one of the essential tools in anyone’s armoury, used in battle against all kinds of beasts.

Atomic number 12

Magnesium is one of my favourite elements – a shiny grey and lightweight metal. It sits in group 2 of the periodic table with the other alkaline earth metals. Burning strips of magnesium ribbon is a favourite demo at school when we look at firework chemicals and do some flame-testing. Auto-igniting at around 475°C, it burns with such an intense white flame, you can’t look directly at it, but must squint. It was used as flash powder in early photography. It is also essential to life in cell chemistry.

My favourite magnesium fact though, is that the design classic – plain metal pencil sharpeners are usually cast from magnesium, (alloyed with a little aluminium).

Idiomatic 12s and 12s in the Media

  • We have 12: Disciples, Lost tribes of Israel, Days of Christmas, Steps, Labours of Hercules, pennies in a shilling. Then we also have Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night, the ‘Glorious 12th’
  • The ‘twelve good men and true’ of a trial jury have never been more dramatically portrayed than in Sidney Lumet’s 1957 film Twelve Angry Men which starred Henry Fonda, adapted from Reginald Rose’s original teleplay.
    • The Dirty Dozen, 12 Monkeys and Twelve Years a Slave are other notable 12 films.
  • In music, there are twelve semitones in a chromatic octave, and the 12-bar blues is a dominant chord progression. Albums are 12 inches (see my post from earlier this year on my most influential albums here).
  • A few notable twelves in books from my shelves:
    • A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell has twelve books, (I’ve read the first 4)
    • Twelve is a book by Jasper Kent which I reviewed here. Period war and peace with Russian vampires!
    • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (still on my TBR) has a cast of twelve characters.
    • My next Maigret to read is #12 – The Shadow Puppet.

My Favourite Fairy 12

Is ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’, a fairy tale from the 17th century, collected by the Brothers Grimm. I first encountered it in the Puffin paperback, A Book of Princesses, a collection edited by Sally Patrick Johnson, which I still have in it’s first Puffin edition from 1965. As you can see below, I was in the habit of colouring in the illustrations (by Fritz Wegner). This book has versions of fairy tales from around the world by many great authors, including Oscar Wilde, Kipling, Dickens, Maugham and more, alongside Eleanor Farjeon, Hans Christian Anderson and Walter de la Mare. E. Nesbit and James Thurber also feature. Anderson’s ‘The Princess on the Pea’, and the ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ are the most well-known.

The version of the ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ presented here is by Walter de la Mare, first published in 1927. He has tidied up the tale with would-be suitors failing to discover why the princesses wear out their dancing shoes every night merely whipped into exile rather than put to death as in Grimm’s, the princesses themselves are far less malicious and he is kinder to the princes they meet too! It didn’t stop me loving the story though.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this diversion into the world of ‘twelve’!

15 thoughts on “12 Years of Blogging

  1. JacquiWine says:

    Many congratulations on your blogging anniversary, Annabel – twelve years is quite the achievement! Lovely to see A Dance to the Music in Time in your list of notable twelves, a magnificent series that rewards the reader’s investment. I hope you get a chance to return to it soon. 🙂

  2. BookerTalk says:

    What an achievement Annabel, you would have been one of the pioneers of blogging when you started. So many others have fallen by the wayside that to be still going strong after 12 years is tremendous.

    And yes I loved your digression into the world of 12

  3. Rebecca Foster says:

    Happy 12 years! I remember that at about this time last year, when you’d just hit 11 years, we were at that Penguin influencers event. I do hope we’ll be able to meet up at literary events again soon.

    I love that you have favourite elements 🙂

    The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis is excellent, if you don’t already know it. I reckon you’d also enjoy The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti.

          • Rebecca Foster says:

            Well, he’s calling it his anniversary of being active in the book world anyway. I’ve never watched a vlog but I follow him on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram and like seeing what he’s up to and what he’s reading. I like that Eric has kept up his blog alongside Booktube, though.

            • AnnaBookBel says:

              True. I do love Simon’s wonderful enthusiasm. I do prefer to read a longer review than watch a short one though, so Booktube will never be my thing. Love Eric’s blog.

  4. Dark Puss says:

    I was born significantly before decimal currency but I don’t use yards/miles/acres etc. However this is your day so many congratulations on the longevity and more importantly, the value to the rest of us of your weblog. PS in our Standard Model we have 12 fermions (not double counting the anti-particles) 🙂

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