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7 November 2016 Lewes in the First World War



Complete handwritten review of Outline. An Autobiography. Paul Nash based on Post-It Tabs and Arrows deployed.

Lewes in the First World War
Crack on with First World War then walk up to Cafe Nero to meet Brigitte who is the project leader on the Lewes Light-boxes that feature images from the Reeves Archive.

We quickly establish that I should research more fully the experience of 11,000 soldiers decent on Lewes on 17 September 1914 and having to be billeted in town until barracks were built down at Seaford and elsewhere.


Teaching backstroke to grades 4 and 5. delighted with their progress and pleased with my teaching. I have less variety these days with more care to get drills correct: they enjoyed 4 x 25m with a plastic beaker on their foreheads and I made them do ‘hesitation drill’ until they all had it right.

1 episode each of ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘The Crown’ followed – ‘An Act of God’ about the pea-souped smog of 1952 was particularly good.


5 November 2016


Complete reading Alex Watson so make a start on Paul Nash.

Write my review of the St.Paul’s Frontal Altar. Just getting it down. Images to add later.
Tricky fixing a homepage error until I realised I’d published something to October.

The Western Front Association Facebook page got four pieces during the day: two ‘Remember on this Day’ and the creation by German High Command of the ‘Kingdom of Poland’.

Walk over to the university and had Gary Sheffield point me towards the lecture room.

All day Prof. Gary Sheffield with two lectures, first on ‘Morale in the British Army ‘and then on ‘Leadership.’ Followed by a three member team review of the Alex Watson ‘Enduring the War’ : on what made soldiers keep fighting, a comparative look at German and British soldiers.

Speak to William about the 35th on Passchendaele – his grandfather had been a sniper and John about the RAF and 3 Squadron.

Finally, have a word with a Gary about talking to UA lecturer on the Reeves Archive. He recommends something either on Lewes, that happens to make use of the archive, or to do something on photography across GB, remembering that I need to write 15,000 words.

Afterwards eat an Indian Javins.



3 November 2016


First frost of the winter. Only made it to the shed roof. Aware of blast of cold and snow heading across the Alps at the weekend.

An excuse to stick to reading prep for the second session of the 2nd Year MA British History and the First World War: Enduring the Great War – Alexander Watson.

Loath to be sick with a full house. Survive. No pressure to do much – I got it done yesterday.

Make a ‘Studio’ mockery of the Brexit High Court ruling.

It makes a change not to be up at 5:00am. I have interludes of reading and sleeping.



2 November 1916

A day to get a lot done and achieved.

Early morning WW1 checking WFA website for ROTD and DGW.

Book EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Lyon.

Hire car and book airport hotel rather than risk lengthy train journey up the Tarrentaise out of season.

Envelope for Ski Flat documents to lawyer in Albertville.

Car load of ‘Really Useful Boxes’ to the Seaford Garage. Pick up old car tyres and Bonfire dressing up gear.

Both TBT and Z home. P


Produce ‘veggie burgers’ that don’t suck, with cherry tomatoes and spinach.

C7 LT a short temptation.

1 November 2016


Compete reading ‘War and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century’ – had been thinking of dissertation on development of ‘remembrance websites’.

Sam Beaver, a Native American who fought in WW1, featured in ‘Remember on this Day’ and gets  over 4,300 views through Facebook.

Get Paul Nash biography ‘Outline‘ to review as an new exhibition is just opening at Tate Britain exhibition just opening.

Swimming club development gala : Grades 1-4 swimming 25m.

One 9 year old had a panic thinking he had been allocated to the wrong grade. Soon there were three 9 year old boys, my star group, racing side by side.

Much to prep: trip to Wolverhampton during Southern Rail strike so will have to drive.

Need to press on and confirm a French lawyer to deal with Clubhotel Multivacances.

SB on my mind.


31 October 2016


Reading: Iron Men. David Walker.

A neat, informed, scholarly, investigation of the development of the first manufactories at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries.

Prep WFA DGW through to 14 November – overcoming the pain of having lost the entire transcript for November 1916 as my iMac constantly runs out of memory.

From The Times Diary and Index of the War with some of The Somme The Day by Day Account and Les 300 Jours de Verdun.

WFA FCBK 2017 Calendar

Fuss less over ROTD recycling some, researching a couple, and having contributions to upload.

‘The life of Pets’ before I fell asleep.

The relationship with humans was lovely, the rest too much of a ridiculous Hollywood take on ‘Tom & Jerry’ or ‘The Alley Cats’ via Monsters Inc

Today is WW1 Day 30 October 2016

A full day having been up and reading at 5:00am and walking Evie (our Labradoodlish dog) around Stanley Turner (rugby club) not long after 7:00am.

Off to Reeves photographic to see their exhibition.

This is a fascinating photographic studio started in 1854. They hold the original archive  of glass plates.


There is an exhibit of 78 window light boxes in town themed Lewes 1916.
I attend afternoon of the showing of ‘The Somme’ 1916 film.

An introduction, the film with commentary and the two talks: Lewes town planning and architecture WW1, and using the Reeve archive to show how formal mourning dress for women changed 1850s to WW1. Around 90 attended the All Saints Centre. Less than 20 stayed for the film with orchestration.

‘Poldark’ was something of a plot rampage with events skipping over as quickly as they do in the books.







A week ago …



A week ago I turned 55. I remember writing something similar when I turned 25. Would I keep writing a diary. Thirty years ago I did, it took me through the ‘final encounters’ and misadventures of my youth and into coupledom, marriage and children. The diary died when co-habiting gave me something better to do before my head hit the pillow.

A lifetime later, the children are adults, I crave the daily exhalation of words onto a page. I do this no longer as means to check or reflect on my actions, rather it is simply a record of them.

Any day, let alone any week, will during waking hours involve a good deal of reading, cooking, dog walking, writing, researching, thinking and drawing. It may include sailing, or teaching swimming. It used to include a session at the guitar singing to an empty house … but it is never empty.

I get up within minutes of becoming conscious. This can be instigated by the light (in summer), one of the young adults coming in from a nightclub, the dog trying to get into our bed, or bedroom, or precisely, in winter months, the various aquaria in our neighbour’s house needing a boost of warm anywhere between 4.10am and 5.30am. Deep sleep down my senses are extraordinarily alert.

For the last couple of days, yet again. I make the effort to improve my French. School failed me, an exchange kind of worked, working in France helped a lot, returning to the UK did not … an OU BA in French was a false-start that had me back at school, while I enjoy Rosetta Stone which has given me an accent that suggests I know what I am talking about (I don’t). I have to write French legalese once a year which I am dreadful at. And five nights a week we watch a French movie … even going to the lengths of putting a book in front of the TV to cover the subtitles.

And then along comes ‘Les 300 Jours de Verdun’. It is in French, of course. It is about the First World War. It helps to know the context of the words being used. This, French and ski resorts is the sum total of my French vocab.  My wife ought to be far more fluent, a year in a French speaking secondary school age 13 in Montreal, a year or two working in Fance and 17 years analysing French medical experts on every drug the pharmaceutical industry can muster. Her vocab is no less specialist than mine: she can hold down a meaty conversation with a consultant heart surgeon but struggle to grapple the idiosyncracies of French property law.

Meanwhile, should I ever require conversational French on artillery strategy during the First World War, my vocab is building.







Three months without a post?

As I am now employed to post content online several times a day all week, all year something of the compulsion to post has been lost. However, I feel I have also lost my soul. Having kept a diary from age 13 1/4 to age 32 1/2, having  blogged from age 34 to 44 and then drifted into a public ‘niche’ part of my head I have lost this conversation. I should pick up a print diary and start writing in it. THIS is why I kept a diary – a life conversation of utter honesty that would be shared nowhere. But it was: from 1990 I transcribe my diary and put it online. It got to 1.6 million words. To post in 1996 was to share with a niche. The second I had a hint of how this content could reach anyone I knew or ‘featured’ I tried obliterating names and locations with obfuscation mixing fiction with fact in a way that drew too much sympathy as loved ones were killed off. And then I shut it all down. Some pages crepped into permanent ‘record’ of the early web. 

I would love to find, again, a discrete, closed readership but know that anything can with ease be cut and copied. Therefore,  20 years+ regarding my Internet experience I am saying – I have had enough. Sailing the Atlantic convinced me of this: guys hung on to the last 10 miles of land-based Internet connection, and then for three weeks it was gone. (Unless you had access to the incredibly expensive Iridium).

My first sweep through the RA Summer Show 2016

RA Summer Show 2016

The RA Summer Show: a few things that caught my eye.

It’s a while since I went to an RA Summer Show: perhaps 20 years.

Eclectic is one way to describe. ‘Art Porn’ is harsh but there’s a giddy and rampant tone to it all. No where else would you expect to see such variety on the same wall – except maybe in a teenager’s bedroom.

I like and loathed stuff in equal measure. I soon became as interested in the people as the art: there are always pairs, rarely partners, more often a father and daughter, or mother and daughter … perhaps there a grandparent and a grandchild, occasionally a couple of schoolgirls who had escaped their party. You can letter the inner conversation out if you have someone to talk to.

Why did some art sell well, and others not at all. I guessed it had something to do with price – it was. Modestly priced prints of works for a few hundred pounds. You can have ‘Solo in Blue’ featured in the middle of my collage above for £850. The drawing of multiple faces, ‘Conversations in London at 1.00pm’ is £230.

In contrast, the multimedia ‘frieze’ called ‘Migration’ which shows mythical horses racing through a wiry wood is £35,000. There are oil paintings, such as ‘Evening at Sea’ for £25,000. And various Gillian Ayres oils from £6,000 to £55,000 (she has six pieces in the exhibition). One of the most popular, ‘Four Fish’, a screenprint by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA is available for £1,030. ‘Fluffy Woman’ (Cardboard, acrylic and fleece) by Lucille Moore has already sold for £1,200. I fancy making ‘Fluffy Men’.

All lovely stuff if I had the money, the walls and the inclination to indulge myself.

I go away inspired.



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