Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Self image

Although I quite like AB's photo of me on the boat (now on my profile,) it's still not quite how I see myself in the mirror. So I tried photographing myself, holding the camera at arms length, sitting in front of a mirror....

This is the best of several terrible shots. And still doesn't, to my mind, look like what I see when shaving. It literally looks like a different person to me. Goodness, do I really look like that?

But self-image is such a strange thing... I remember when I first played with a tape recorder (my step-uncle's) ... I just couldn't believe my voice actually sounded like that!... terribly posh and precise (I was about 6 years old)... I'd NO idea!...

At the time I was trying to record a "radio play"... some short play I'd been reading... it was a good education because eventually I DID manage to make my voice sound different for the different characters. I also discovered that if you try to do clever editing on a reel-to-reel you can end up with yards of tape jammed in the heads. Everybody was very kind but nobody suggested I might like to play with the machine again after that. I was an awful lot older (about 15) before I jammed tape in my own (second hand) machine and learnt how to disentangle it.

But that uncle had a mechanical arithmetic calculator that had me fascinated for endless hours - you put a pen shaped thing in a slot to slide the numbers down and they added... I couldn't work out how. At the time I was wondering how to make my Meccano set make a mechanical adding machine but they didn't seem to have gears with the right number of teeth. Even if I had owned any gears at the time. Although it can't have been much later I built the steam powered (model) crane that could run one-and-a-half lengths of our main passage before needing re-fuelling...

It did go very slowly because the little Mamod steam engine wasn't very powerful. And needed oiling every two minutes or the friction made it even less powerful. Luckily washing-up detergent had (only just) been invented by then to get the spare oil off the passageway. Even young I appreciated somebody might slip in a puddle of oil... since I had.

I always slightly hoped that step-uncle might leave me his huge lathe when he died. Not that we had anywhere to put it or anything remotely practical. In fact he left his considerable estate to his "housekeeper". Mmmm. He never married? Well, no, he didn't but....

I don't suppose I'll ever know the truth about what was going on..... the other day we had a card for my sister remembering her birthday (slightly wrongly) from the one ancient surviving member of that branch of the family. I winced because there in classic Alzheimer's style poor old Dorothy had tried to write the card. Still enough like her hand to be "Aunt Dorothy." Stunning she'd clearly looked up my sister's address but muddled it with mine, stunning she'd still got mine....

She was at our wedding, looking very frail. But compos..... we hardly ever saw her during my childhood but she always sent me book tokens for my birthday ... which I used and I always wrote a dutiful thank-you letter extolling whichever book I'd bought... which always had a reply she was so delighted to hear from me.

Elegant conventions people these days tend not to do. It's a pity. Claire from our boat trip, as expected, carefully delivered a thank-you card... as I knew she would.

It's frightening how many of those people were on that path to the crematorium and have now gone through it. I must confess, I really don't want to know my number in the queue.

As a technical thing, I posted this and then realised I'd forgotton the paragraph-break codes - leave them out, everything runs together.


  1. So spill the beans Edwin, what are the paragraph break codes? I would find them enormously useful as my paragraphs run together whenever Venus is in the ascendant.

  2. Sie knonnen HTML... uh. No. That's what it says, though. Verwenden, even... (is that "for example"?) Why HAS that bit gone German?... and I'm now Wasserman rather than Aquarian.

    Paragraph break is HTML and is < followed by P followed by >, no spaces - put wherever you want hard return and blank line in between. In a similar way, < followed by BR followed by > (no spaces) should give definite new line. Just hitting Return seems to sometimes give a new line, sometimes not!

    I just tried to send those as one actually needs to type them and blogger said it couldn't accept them... in a comment, it actually means, therefore. The codes certainly work in a posting!

    What I do is forget to put them in whilst posting and only remember for viewing the posting, which is scrambled. Venus always seems to be in the ascendant. But now it's quite tricky to spot where you meant new paragraph, etc....

    Gotterdamerung and heil whatsits.

    Right, that's my serious work for the day. Must do my tax return sometime, though..


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...