I’ve recently completed the index for Subterranean Sappers by Iain McHenry, to be published in July by Uniform Press. Over on Facebook there’s a page by PhotograFix which shows the colourised front jacket illustration. My sensible head says it’s all smoke and mirrors and computer trickery, but I think it works really well to bring the distant past just that little bit closer. Bringing the faces of long gone soldiers out into the sunshine makes them a bit more human and real. The sappers spent years, in the semi-dark, tunnelling silently to make mines, packing them with explosives and blowing them up; or digging dugouts so soldiers could sleep safely at night. Their story certainly deserves to have some light shed on it.
One of our presents this year was a copy of Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook by Terry Pratchett and The Discworld Emporium. While it is an invaluable guide to the Discworld railway and the various towns and villages on the way as the railway spreads out from Ankh-Morpork, it was published without an index. So, for curious readers who don’t have the time, but do have the inclination, here’s Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook Index.
This is, of course, a work of fiction, but the categories of information closely follow those of a modern travel guide and the original Bradshaw’s Guides. Dwarf, troll and travellers of other species will find entries to enable them to travel on the new railways. And all travellers will find detailed information about the many towns and villages, interspersed with vignettes and stories gathered by Mrs Bradshaw. And there’s a lot about cabbages!
I’ve been busy during the first part of September completing indexes for two books of local history. Not necessarily local to me, but it was interesting to find local or personal connections in both.
First was Jeremy Higgins’ “Great War Railwaymen” published by Uniform Press. A fascinating insight into the too numerous to mention men who left their railway jobs to fight in World War I. Surprisingly, not all of them worked on the railways during the war. If you liked Michael Portillo’s recent television series, this book will interest you. This book is also raising money for the Army Benevolent Fund, the Soldiers’ Charity and Railway Benevolent Fund. The local connection here was the fact that one of the first soldiers discussed lived in a house less than two miles away from mine and worked for the railway in Wolverton. The book is also dedicated to soldiers who died on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, and I’m proud to number my nephew Ben among those who served and came home safely.
Next was David G. Wood and Richard Walsh’s “The Prowess of Charlie Fielder“. The Prowess was a merchant cargo vessel that moved liquid cargoes of oils and molasses between many ports, but mainly in the east of England and Holland, in the 1920s and 30s. One of the seamen, Charles Fielder, kept a detailed log of all the trips he made and the problems they encountered. They have my admiration for working so very hard, and it’s a glimpse into a lost world. The book is published by Chaffcutter books. My personal link to this book was a little more tenuous but reading it added some colour to work I’ve been doing on my family history. My great grandfather and my grandfather both worked on various docks around England, and the shipyard in Rosyth, as stationary engine drivers, loading and unloading cargo for different businesses. My grandfather served in World War I on the docks at Boulogne moving the materials which supported the army in France, which was a neat link back to the Great War Railwaymen book.
To quote the author, Carlton Reid, “How cyclists were the first to push for good roads & became the pioneers of motoring”. It’s a rattling good read about things we ought to know more about and should appeal to cyclists, motorists and enthusiasts of late Victorian and Edwardian history. I’ve just completed the index and the book goes to press today. You can find out more here.
This is the end of the gestation period for Carlton, who has been working on the book for four years. He had to raise funds by crowdsourcing using Kickstarter, as well as more traditional research sources. Carlton is a fantastic example of someone who had an idea for a book and managed to get funding to cover the research and writing phases, and the all-important copy-editing and indexing. Here’s a link to his blog where you can read about how Kickstarter worked for him. Let’s hope the book finds its way into a lot of Christmas stockings.
For many years I’ve been excited by Viking ships. As a graduate student I took a course with Professor Sean McGrail at Oxford University and he talked about the many ships that had been discovered which dated from prehistory onwards. When he got to the Viking period he enthused about the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde and encouraged us to visit it if we could. I didn’t get the chance until 2011 when I attended the EEDAL conference in Copenhagen. After the conference I took the train to Roskilde and visited the museum. If you get the chance, do go, the most wonderful thing is the smell of shipbuilding, the wood, ropes, sails and tar, and the chance to take to the fjord in a replica ship.
During the 2012 Olympics, the Danish delegation sent one of the Roskilde replica ships to St Catherine’s Dock in London. I took the family (twice) and we got excited again by the idea of Viking ships.
Earlier this year the British Museum hosted an exhibition of Viking ships and related material and the Roskilde museum sent the huge Roskilde 6 ship for the exhibition. I went one day towards the end of the exhibition and was impressed by the new exhibition space in the British Museum and the range of artefacts they had gathered. One of the publications that accompanied the exhibition was a small book entitled The Viking Ship, by Gareth Williams. For the bargain price of £5.00, less if you are a British Museum member, this is a great introduction to Viking ships, it is packed with details and information. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an index. So I compiled one myself to show just how good this little book is. The index can be downloaded here: BM Viking Ship.
The clocks go forward at the end of March and suddenly it is another season, although given the weather this week I’m not sure yet what it is. But time has flown at a different rate for the members of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society.
I’ve been working on an index over the last few weeks for the Hendon and District Archaeological Society. This is a report of an excavation that took place 40 years ago, but the post-excavation work has been on-going over a number of years and has involved the society, a finds analysis course and some support from professional archaeologists, as well as historic document research and some specialist work by a pottery specialist to identify the origins of some of the medieval pottery. The resulting book is nicely illustrated with photographs of finds, of the features found on the site and various maps and historic photographs of the buildings in the area. I think they’ll be very pleased with the result.
Gosh, hasn’t time flown. It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes ago that we were putting up our Christmas decorations, but it is already 2014 and it’s back to school tomorrow. Actually, I’m a bit relieved it’s all over and it’ll be nice to get back to our usual routine. 2014 will bring its share of challenges, the first of which is likely to be the pdfs for a proper book index, hopefully at the end of January. More of that when it actually happens.
During the holidays I’ve not been entirely idle and have put together an index for Dave Goulson’s book A Sting in the Tale. I’d reviewed the index that was in the book when I looked at the indexes for the books on the Samuel Johnson award shortlist. You can download my index from here. Anyway, it’s a nice book and I’d encourage anyone to read it who cares even a tiny bit about the bumblebees and small creatures in our gardens and fields.