Happy New Year / Delville Woods

Detail from the commemorative frieze in the museum.

2017 – Happy New Year

This first blog post of 2017 was to have begun, as it does in the heading, by wishing readers a Happy New Year for 2017 and then continuing solely with this content about my writing. However, as you will see later, computing issues continue to aggravate hence the additional material below.

Delville Woods, Longueval, Somme, France.

View of the woods on 8 July 2003.
Delville Woods. The white cairns on the horizon marked the front line positions. The worst fighting here was between 14 & 20 July 1916. John New 2003.

Spring morning – Delville Woods

It’s quiet now in Delville Woods
No smoke, no guns, no flame

It’s quiet now in Delville Woods
No blood, no gore, no pain

It’s quiet now in Delville Woods
Where white stones mark the slain

It’s quiet now in Delville Woods
Just tranquil thoughts remain

It’s quiet now in Delville Woods
No smoke, no guns, no flame.

John New 2003 (as revised 2004)

The above is a poem first drafted in the adjacent coach park immediately after visiting the the Delville Woods battlefield and South African First World War memorial museum (Link 1) (Link 2) at Longueval, Somme, France on a still and quiet day in 2003. At the time one of the many Iraq wars was in progress, the whole idea that as a society we have learnt nothing since the fighting here in 1916 struck a chord, hence the poem’s first draft. It was recently adapted as a song by my eldest daughter, Eleanor. (See Ellie’s Facebook for original of the video).

This, much shortened, final, version of the poem came from what was originally a considerably longer piece, which was I quickly felt was so unsatisfactory that I doubt it will ever surface. It greatly benefited from one of the heaviest edits I have ever done on a piece of my own writing and if there is a tip to pass on from that it is don’t simply throw a work away, the kernel of the idea may have been sound. The red pencil can at times also be your friend and not just your enemy.

The museum
View of the museum.

 

Detail from the commemorative frieze in the museum.
Detail from the commemorative frieze in the museum.
Detail from main entrance arch. (NB Has had digital adjustment)
Detail from main entrance arch. (NB Has had digital adjustment)
Photograph. The cemetery, adjacent Delville Woods.
The cemetery, adjacent Delville Woods. John New 2003.

Computing issues

Microsoft continue to aggravate with their continued way of making unnecessary changes to parts of their software that worked better before the upgrade!  Not that Apple are free from criticism either, looking at the new phones for a potential upgrade and the iPhone7 (the logical choice) I noted as being sized too big to fit in a man’s shirt front pocket. Oh well I can live with the existing one for the time being.  On the positive side, however, my mother is at last trying to use her first computer, a donated laptop.

Microsoft Word – letter templates

Screen grab - Word template editing options
Screen grab – Word template editing options

The first time waster to be reported is the way Word deals with document templates. Nothing actually wrong with the process except that there is no mention that for setting headers there is an Option A and Option B. The fact that if you want a different page one header in multiple page documents the tick box to set that function is not too difficult to find; unfortunately the back-up description of what it does when ticked/unticked is not! (I think in fact it is missing completely) I am sure the help file writers very carefully proofread the help file, but whilst the spelling and grammar may be OK they failed to notice the glaring omission that what Word actually does varies according to when you FIRST save the document in relation to that tick box being ticked or unticked. This tutorial supplies the answers (see 4th entry from shereens dated 29 November 2015 for full text) and I wasted several hours during December before finding this out.

Microsoft – two steps forward – three steps backwards!

Whilst writing about Microsoft regrettably also more time wasting as a result of the Windows 10 upgrade. The move function when reorganising files used to a simple one, highlight the necessary file(s) right click, drag and drop. Although that principle is broadly the same in Explorer (Win 10 version) it seems to result in a lot more clicks, swearing at the machine and accidental programme opening than previously. Definitely a case of two steps forward and three backwards for me.

Copyright

All images and text on this page are by, and remain in copyright to, John New. Video and music remains copyright Eleanor Grady. They are not released under Creative Commons.

Year end reflection

Graduation photo

Year end reflection

2016 has been a memorable year, including my graduation with a BA in Communication and Media from Bournemouth University.

Graduation photo
Graduation day, the BIC, Bournemouth. 8 November 2016 (Photo: Stella New)

As I type this year-end reflection all I can really say is that it has been a very busy year in just about every other way too, a veritable smorgasbord of events and activities across a wide spectrum of activities.

My own writing has been progressed, backstage work at the local theatre has been fairly frequent and locations visited have been as widespread as Brownsea Island, the Lake District and the Scottish Lowlands. As for transport, cars, trains, buses and ferries have all featured; the only item missing from the set has been air travel!

The broken boiler

Floor damage
The damaged floor due to burst boiler. (Photo: John New)

Unfortunately the late Autumn and early winter has seen a lot of work sorting out problems for my mother as her central heating boiler decided it wanted to spring a really serious leak, ultimately requiring a replacement. What we didn’t initially discover was that the leak was occurring under the kitchen vinyl flooring, also destroying much of the chipboard too. Luckily that was covered by insurance, even though the boiler wasn’t.  As I write this the only job still outstanding for completion is the replacement vinyl flooring, due to be laid in a couple of days time.

Observation on tradesmen

One thing to come out of the floor replacement process is how sloppy tradesmen appear to have become these days with regard to returning calls and actually giving times and dates for coming to do the work.  There is obviously plenty of work about for the small trader currently if they can afford to ignore work, as some did, stating they were too busy to quote initially for the boiler replacement job and secondly for the flooring work! What they also seem to ignore is that whilst the client is very grateful they have deigned to give us their time, in return for our money of course, a statement (promise?) they will come sometime in the next two or three days is less than helpful for an elderly person with no car being able to go out and walk the dog, get fresh food when the shops are open/the buses are running etc. Not everyone has a car or the internet so they can patronise 24-hour shopping. Luckily I was able to be there so Mum wasn’t trapped in the house for the two days before they turned up!

New Year’s Eve / Rose and Crown

As the year ends the New Year will be seen in at the, fortunately, reopened Rose & Crown pub in my Mum’s village of Sutton on the Forest. A pub I first saw the New Year in as it rolled over into 1973 – so this will begin a forty-fifth year of custom! 1973 was Plant a tree year, one of the oddities I can recall from around that time was the slogan – “Plant a tree for ’73 – buy a saw for ’74!”.