Home » Posts tagged 'ucl'

Tag Archives: ucl

To teach is to nurture and the best metaphor for the mind is to see it as a garden

Fig. 1. My own vision of education as nurturing – like growing plants in a garden

‘Her metaphor for the brain is that of a garden, that’s full of the most interesting,  different things that have to be constantly cultivated and constantly checked‘.  This was Kirsty Young  introducing her guest, Professor Uta Frith. (01:24 into the transmission, BBC Radio 4 2013)

Professor Uta Frith of University College London was on Desert Island Discs for the second time this week  – this time round I paid close attention. I then went to the BBC website and took notes.

Having recently completed the Open University postgraduate module H810 Accessible Online Learning and of course interested in education, this offers insights on what studying autism and dyslexia tells us about the human mind.

There’s more in another BBC broadcast – Uta Frith interviewed for the BBC’s Life Scientific – Broadcast 6 Dec 2011 accessed 1st March 2013 – and available, by the way,  until January 2099 should you not be able to find time and want your dyslexic grandchildren to listen.

The difference between someone who is autistic and the rest of us is how we each of us see the world.

‘We learn by taking different perspectives – something about ourselves which we otherwise would have never known’. Uta Frith (2013)

‘Take what’s given to you and make the best of it, but of course the cultivation is key to all of these things, so culture in our lives, learning from other people … these are the really, really important things’. Uta Frith (2013)

We may all have some of this in us.

Genetic factors matter.

‘How we are raised is a myth. It is not right. It has been so very harmful. It is a illusion to think that doing the right things, for example that you get from books, that you can change things.’ Uta Frith (2013)

Then from BBC’s Life Scientific

‘A passionate advocate of neuroscience and how its findings can be used in the classroom to improve learning. She hopes that eventually neuroscience will inform education in the same way that anatomy informs medicine’. (01:35 in, BBC 2013)

Uta Firth wants knowledge of the brain to inform education the way knowledge of the body informs medicine.

Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger’s Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential.

Throughout her career she has been developing a neuro-cognitive approach to developmental disorders.

In particular, she has investigated specific cognitive processes and their failure in autism and dyslexia. Her aim is to discover the underlying cognitive causes of these disorders and to link them to behavioural symptoms as well as to brain systems. She aims to make this research relevant to the education of people with development disorders and to contribute to a better quality of their everyday life.

The above profile form the UCL pages

Further Reading/Viewing

Uta Frith on YouTube on early years, then on dyslexia

Frith, U (1989/2003) Autism – explaining the enigma (second edition)

Frith, U (2008) Autism – a very short introduction


Uta Frith, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, Transmission accessed 1st March 2013

Uta Frith, The Life Scientific, BBC Radio 4, from BBC website as a podcast (accessed 1st March 2013

University College London, Staff. Website (accessed 1st March 2013)


University Libraries vs Google

20 Feb 2011

Dr Ian Rowlands The Google Generation

The key thoughts that I take from Ian Rowlands talk on the Google Generation are :

  • Disintermediation
  • Extravagant Claims
  • Diversity and segmentation (he picked out three clusters)
  • Google and Wikipedia dependence
  • Text based to visual
  • The mental maps of children
  • Books as chapters
  • Good students and ‘good’ research techniques
  • A mental map of information


The middleman, or the ‘intermediary function’ has been cut out. He mentioned travel agents, we could just as easily exclude secretaries (because of word processors), the post man and(because of email), people in ‘middle management’ because analytics run from the shop floor, or retail outlet to a directors computer and … even the teacher as subject matter expert.

The Extravagant Claims as popular commentators, authors and publications become mashed-up with serious study.

These are the Marc Prensky (Digital Natives) and Malcolm Bradbury (The Tipping Point) types who take indicators from genuine research and then exaggerate and extend the claims and findings.

They are not ‘one homogenous blob’ as Dr Rowland puts it.

There is diversity by age, gender, and exposure to IT. This is complex picture is exactly what advertising agency and product marketing departments understand and it was about time educators took a similar approach to understand the minutiae of the ‘audience’ who will choose to purchase information from their libraries …. Or not, that fails to attract interest because a headline is easier to consume than a 30 page report. There is segmenting by diversity type … something librarians once did for users, but now readers can do for themselves.

Do modern users care or understand the relevance of what they find

Can they not differentiate between dirt or a pearl? That a Google search is not a library search and that there are more sources than Wikipedia?

We’re shifting from text based to a preference for the visual. But has not the visual always been preeminent. People learn less from reading than they do by observing and doing, always have done. Indeed, has not there simply been a period of text based education elitism?

The mental maps of children are indeed different

Rowland expresses concern about this as if it isn’t commonly understood. It would help if those in education took a formal course in education as teachers in primary and secondary education are required to do, they therefore might understand something about childhood development, developmental psychology and basic neuroscience.

Each generation is a product of how and where it is brought up and what they are exposed to; if we have a Net Generation today, then in the past we have had generations brought up with Television, with Movies, with the car, and before that the train … and further back still, the first generations to be literate and have books. It isn’t helpful to isolate the Google generation and think they’re different from us. They’re not. There’s a continuum. Dr Rowland

Books as chapters

Is this not the same with tracks from albums, rather than the entire LP concept?

Good search technique students get better grades than poor search technique students

Is it the good research technique, or the good student that gets the results? I’m not convinced the correct correlation is being made here.

We need a mental map of information so that stuff doesn’t get ‘hidden behind the screen.’

From the point of view of methods of communicating the information I would prefer a summary and article to a informal talk cum-lecture. Armed with a verbatim transcript I will immediately do a search for words and phrases that would have been edited out of any written piece on the subject. So out come the following:

‘actually’ 19 uses.

‘really’ 56 uses

‘very’ 54 uses

‘you know’ 20 uses

‘simply’ 12 uses

‘literally’ 3 uses

‘sorts of’ 4 uses

(This I should add is a very modest tally of a normal conversational style that would occur with anyone except a seasoned broadcaster. The point is, you don’t want to read a verbatim transcript).

Here I am making something I want to read, easier to read.

All that counts is how the information goes in, if there is motivation to engage with it, and how the information is then labelled, enabled, packaged and chunked in your mind.

Are the right kind of neurological activities going on that result in the information withering, or proving fruitful?

Is it to be engaged in deep learning, or is it just ‘stuff’ top be learnt, tested and dropped?

The key word for any expression of information that matters to me is EFFORT.

Has the person wishing to communicate something made the effort to get it right?

We have a plethora of choices

A subject we may be interested in may be delivered as a lecture, a workshop, a classroom talk, a presentation of any kind, an after dinner or at the dinner table, live or recorded, in vision or not, edited or not. It may be a paper, a leaflet or pamphlet. It may be a formal study or report, an assignment or essay, even a thesis, a chapter in a book, or entry in Wikipedia.

It might also be the basis for an entire course of study or a module within one. The subject of a three minute news story, with an interview and cut-aways, or a documentary, or a panel debate. It might be a poster, a website, a blog entry or email as body text or an attachment.

It can be many things and all things. One dish can make a smorgasbord

There are lectures and there are informal talks, some like this, perhaps ought not to receive wide circulation, it may be unfair to take a speaker out of context. I get the feeling that this is an intimate, even informal, sharing of ideas, a catalyst to get a discussion going amongst a group of professionals.

From a learning point of view I cannot sit back and listen to these things and get much from it

This is didactic, being talked to. My attendance at lectures as an undergraduate stopped during my first term and I doubt I attended ANY lecture afterwards; it was easier to read their book, as I felt most lecturers were ‘reading from their book.’ So I got their book from the faculty library, or got to it first in the Bodleian, or bought it from Blackwell’s (all three within a 2 minute bike ride of each other). Just as a sheet of grabs of bullet points from a Power Point presentation are NOT ‘presenter notes,’ nor is a verbatim transcript of the person talking.

This is LAZY, though of value as a point of ACCESS best practice.

If I can read the presentation then I’ll do so, not at three words a second (the spoken voice) and ideally not with all the ticks and circumlocutions that slow the spoken word down in what can be an indulgent perambulation around a subject. Academics are not broadcasters. What do we read at? Nine words a second?

When someone was born does NOT dictate whether they are or are not exposed to a plethora of electronic gadgets, tools and resources.

Whilst they have to have been born after the technology has come into existence and popular use, this does not mean that they are ‘brought up in an immersive rich media interactive culture’.

If we take everyone born on the planet after 1993 the percentage exposed to this immersive media immediately and understandably drops massively. It is a western, developed, first world phenomenon.

There is such thing as ‘The Google Generation’ – True or False?

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Written in 2007 (published 11 January 2008). Reviewed in 2011.

Part of the Week 1 jollies for H800.

(This picks up where I left off in the Forum Thread)

After a year of MAODE, a decade blogging and longer keeping journals (and old course work from both school and uni I might add) I feel I can tap into my own first, second, third or fourth take on a topic.

Increasingly, where this is digitised my preferred learning approach is to add to this information/knowledge, often turning my ideas inside out.

We are yet to have a ‘generation,’ (a spurious and loose term in this context) that has passed through primary, secondary and tertiary education ‘wired up’ to any consistent degree from which to gather empirical research. Indeed, I wonder when things will bottom out, when we’ve gone the equivalent journey of the first horseless-carriage on the Turnpikes of England to the 8 lanes in both directions on the M1 south of Leicester – or from the Wright Brothers to men on the moon.

I’d like to encourage learners to move on from copying, or cutting and pasting in any form, to generating drafts, and better drafts of their take on a topic, even if this is just a doodle, a podcast or cryptic set of messages in a synchronous or asynchronous discussion i.e. to originate.

I lapped up expressions such as Digital Natives, an expression/metaphor only that has been debunked as lacking any basis in fact.

I fear this is the same when it comes to talking about ‘Generation X, Y or Z.’ It isn’t generational, it is down to education, which is down to socio-economic background, wealth, access (technical, physical, geographic, as well as mental), culture, even your parent’s job and attitude.

My 85 year old Father-in-law is Mac ready and has been wired to the Internet its entire life; does this make him of this ‘Generation?’

If x billion struggle to find clean drinking water and a meal a day, where do they stand?

They’ve not been born on Planet Google, so don’t have this generational opportunity.

I find it short sighted of the authors not to go for a ‘longitudinal’ (sic) study. It strikes me as the perfect topic of a JISC, Open University, BBC tie in, the filming part funding the research that is then published every three years for the next thirty, for example.

Trying to decide who is Generation X, or Generation Y or the ‘Google Generation’ strikes me as fraught as trying to decide when the islands we inhabit became, or could have been called in turn England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

We could spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding who is in and who is out and not agreed.

We can’t it’s like pouring water through a sieve. The creator of IMBD, a computer geek and film buff was born in the 60s (or 70s). Highly IT literate, then as now, he is not of the ‘Google Generation’ as defined as being born after 1993, but is surely of the type?

Personally I was introduced to computers as part of the School of Geography initiative at Oxford in 1982.

Admittedly my first computer was an Amstrad, followed by an early Apple, but I’ve not been without a computer for the best part of thirty years. I can still give my 12 year old a run for his money (though he does get called in to sought our browser problems).

And should this report be quoting Wikipedia?

Surely it is the author we should quote if something is to be correctly cited; anyone could have written this (anyone did).

Reading this I wonder if one day the Bodleian Library will be like a zoo?

The public will have access to view a few paid students who recreate the times of yore when they had to read from a book and take notes, and look up titles in a vast leather-bound tome into which we strips of paper were intermittently stuck. (not so long ago).

Is there indeed, any point in the campus based university gathered around a library when all his millions, or hundreds of millions of books have been Googliefied?

Will collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham (Edinburgh and Dublin? Harvard ?) become even more elite as they become hugely expensive compared to offerings such as the Open University?

There may be no limit to how much and how fast content can be transmitted … the entire Library of Congress in 3 seconds I am told, but there are severe limits to how much you can read and remember, let alone make sense of and store.

Is this not the next step?

To rewire our minds with apps and plug-ins? I smile at the idea of ‘power browsing’ or the new one for me ‘bouncing’ the horizontal drift across papers and references rather than drilling vertically, driven by a reading list no doubt.

I can give a name to something I did as an undergraduate 1981-1984. Reading Geography I began I the Map room (skipped all lectures) and then spent my morning, if necessary moving between libraries, particularly the Rhodes Library and Radcliffe Science Library, by way of the School of Geography Library, of course, and sometimes into the Radcliffe Camera or the PPE Reading Rooms.

I bounced physically.

I bounced digitally online as a preferred way of doing things. Though this often leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the things I could read, but haven’t read, that I’d like to read. Which is good reason ONLY to read the latest paper, to check even here if the paper we are asked to read has not already been superseded by this or fellow authors.

Old digitised news keeps like a nasty smell in the wind?

Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile and it is clear that these behaviours represent a serious challenge for traditional information providers, nurtured in a hardcopy paradigm and, in many respects, still tied to it. (p9)

The problem with the short read and low tolerance of readers is the way papers have thus far gone from print version to digital version without, yet, thorough transmogrification.

We await new acceptable ways to write, and submit and share knowledge that is less formal and to anyone versed in reading online, digestible.

All authors for the web would do well to read Jakob Nielsen on web usability.

There is a way to do it. If it looks like it belongs in a journal or book, you are getting it wrong

Do the authors appreciate that labelling the behaviour ‘squirreling’ is self-fulfilling?

It normalises the behaviour if anyone reads about it. Whilst metaphors are a useful way to explain, in one person’s words, what is going on, such metaphors soon become accepted as fact.

There is a running debate across a series of article in the New Scientist on the way humans think in metaphors (good, can’t help it), and how ideas expressed as metaphors then set unfounded parameters on how we think (not so good, and includes things like the selfish gene, competition and so on).

This dipping, bouncing and squirreling, horizontal browsing, low attention span, four to eight minute viewing diverse ‘one size does not fit all’ individual would make for an interesting cartoon character. I wonder if Steven Appleby or Quentin Blake would oblige. ________________________________________________________________________________

Why ‘huge’ and why ‘very’ ? Qualify. Facts. Evidence. And why even, ‘very, very.’ This isn’t academic writing, it’s hear say and exaggeration.

There’s a category missing from the graph – branded information, such as Wikipedia, or Harvard Business Publication, Oxford or Cambridge University Press and Blackwell’s, to name put a few.

Where so much information is available, and so many offerings on the same topic, the key for anyone is to feel they are reading a reliable source.

The point being made later about ‘brand’ presence for BL … something we will see more of with the commercialisation of information. Even Wikipedia cannot be free for ever, while the likes of Wikileaks, for its mischief making and spy-value will always be funded from nefarious sources.

There are very very few controlled studies that account for age and information seeking behaviour systematically: as a result there is much mis-information and much speculation about how young people supposedly behave in cyberspace. (p14)

Observational studies have shown that young people scan online pages very rapidly (boys especially) and click extensively on hyperlinks – rather than reading sequentially. Users make very little use of advanced search facilities, assuming that search engines `understand’ their queries. They tend to move rapidly from page to page, spending little time reading or digesting information and they have difficulty making relevance judgements about the pages they retrieve. (p14)

Wikipedia and YouTube both exhibit a marked age separation between viewers of content (mainly 18-24s) and content generators (mainly 45-54s and 35-44s respectively). (p16, ref 17)

‘there is a considerable danger that younger users will resent the library invading what they regards as their space. There is a big difference between `being where our users are’ and `being USEFUL to our users where they are’.

Surely it would be easy to compare a population that have access and those who do not?

Simply take a group from a developed, rich Western nation and compare them to a group that are not, that don’t have the internet access, video games or mobile phones.


Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. UCL 11 JAN 2008

Why Flickr on the Great War

Dear Great War Archive Flickr Group,

How would any of you answer this?

I am a lecturer in the Department of Information Studies, University College London, and specialise in the digitization of cultural and heritage material.

I’m currently carrying out a small study regarding non-institutional digitization: that is, digital resources such as online museums or Flickr groups created by amateurs, enthusiasts and specialists. The study aims to look at the range of material created by amateur enthusiasts, the motivation for doing so, and the level of interaction these resources have with their intended audience.

The pool of those being ‘interviewed’ given that is it only on FLicr and is self-selecting means that it can never be selective. So this is a piece of qualitive research? There are no objective criteria to be met? Is FlickR paying for this research? Who knows.

I’m really interested in the way that people are using Flickr as a platform to share images of their collections. I wondered whether you could spare the time to answer a few questions about your activities?

Any responses I get from this brief survey – I’m looking to survey fifty or so Flickr users creating high quality resources that are not part of any established memory institution – would be kept anonymous, although you would be credited in acknowledgements, should the results be written up. I aim to present the results at an academic conference such as Digital Humanities, or Museums and the Web, but depending on the quality of the results I may also write up the results for an academic journal.

So we .. I have done all the work for you?

I’ve attached a few brief questions below, and it should take about 10 minutes for you to respond. Please let me know if you have any questions about this. I’m really impressed by the Flickr group you contribute to, and I’d really like to include it in the survey!

It might take 10 mins. But I’ve given it 60.

I’d appreciate your response by the 1st of June 2009, responses can be sent to my email (m.terras@ucl.ac.uk) or via my user account on flickr (enthusiast_digitization).

Best wishes,

Dr Melissa Terras
Senior Lecturer in Electronic Communication
Department of Information Studies
University College London

Questions for Flickr Users:

Part A. Motivation
1. Can you tell us a little about your collection. Presumably, this existed prior to contributing your items to the Flickr group? Has your collection grown alongside your activity with Flickr?
2. What motivated you to contribute to your chosen Flickr group?
3. Is your Flickr group entirely your own, or are you part of a team or wider community? Did you set up the group yourself, or join an existing one?

Part B. Creation and Maintenance
4. Can you describe how long it took to create the images you uploaded to Flickr? What tools and techniques did you use, ie for scanning, or photography of objects?
5. How much time do you spend contributing items to Flickr?
6. Were you aware of any standards (for example for photography, or cataloguing, or copyright clearance) that are used in creating digital resources?

Part C. Interaction with User Community
7. Do you know who looks at the images you contribute to Flickr? Do you have an established audience?
8. Are you aware of any usage statistics, such as the number of “hits” you get per day?
9. Do you engage with other members of the Flickr community creating and uploading similar images?
10. How often are you contacted by people interested in your resource?
11. Are you aware of your resource ever having been used in research – for example to provide dates or historical detail for historians?

Part D. Interaction with Memory Institutions
12. Have you every been contacted by an established museum, library or archive regarding the images you contribute to Flickr? If so, could you tell us a little about this interaction?

Part E. Any Further Comments?

13. Is there anything else you would like to add regarding the creation, maintenance, or use of the material you contribute to Flickr?
Posted at 6:09PM, 19 May 2009 BST ( permalink )
view photostream
Jonathan Vernon says:


From the age of 5 or 6 after Sunday Dinner my grandfather sitting with us children might start a story,’ Did I tell you about the time that …’ and so would begin some account of his experiences in the First World War: machinge guns, prisoners, bombs & bullets … and aeroplanes. He was 67 perhaps …. and lived another 30 years. Between us, a brother & two sisters, I became the most interested in his accounts. My mother wrote them off, couldn’t stand it … clearly he had this ever present desire to relive, or recount his experiences. Age 13 I started keeping a diary and in time would have jotted down some of my grandfather’s stories. I had a life to lead, exams, and ultimately a university degree at Oxford. The First World War wasn’t history so I had to stick with the Tudors & Stuarts! I accepted this. A decade on I a, l;iving in France and as part of a film crew on behalf of the French Ministry of Culture we are travelling to all the ‘tough’ urban district of towns … most of which happen to be along the old Western Front. The joke is that I am always interested in and photography war memorials. Abbeville, Verdum, Mountaban all made the First World War feel real. So I would share my experiences in France with my grandfather. INcreasingly frail when I was in town (my parents had long divorced) … and then my granny had died … he craved company. Technology first in the from of VHS let me indulge my grandfather further … he had books on planes, the trenches & all the rest … but he hadn’t see ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ in 50 years. Working in Television Production I understood the value of getting his story down and chose to do this on a Sony Digital audio kit … transcribing these notes I went back to ask further questions. Yes, I should have got him on Broadcast Video … but he looked so old and frail and I had never planned to broadcast him. Anyway … as I grew up, as my comprehension of his world , let alone my own, become clearer how I had seen his war changed. I wrote a piece called ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Paschendale’ in 1990 ? while sitting with him watching the First Gulf War. A lad from the Durham Light Infantry was interviewed in the desert which prompted this remark … he had signed up with the Durham Light Infantry in 1915. He also had something to say about the Tornadoes as he had transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. And I got in touch with Lyn MacDonald and he went on a trip to Paschendale … and his medals came out (he has the Military Medal) and he chook hands with the King of Belgium … and photographs he had and those of his kid brother Billy who had joined the RFC age 16 and died in a crash in 1919 … and after his death … and with so much coming on line I found I could add even more detail to his recorded memoir by checking details of those who had served and died … and then researching their own family background. Slowly it all came painfully to life, the family members lost, the closeness of the community … the very different attitude to the ‘working class’ then … they were cannon fodder. My gradual loathing for Haig who cheated his way into Oxford and Sandhurst and weazeled his way into the affections of the Royal Family & as a result of this, not his ability ended up responsible for the death of millions …

Is the First World War more deeply a part of the British psyche than that of Canadians, Anz’s … those from South Africa?

At an MCG event in London I was invited to be the standard bearer in front of he Boy David. These people gave their lives, or their leg, or their face for others at home making a mint … or not.

Accounts of young lads being killed today astounds me … not just how young they sound, but how dumb. The army is putting the ignorant in danger … again 🙁

Surely the sharpest minds should be the ones in the Front Line in a modern war? I’d love to know the average IQ of those being sacrificed.

Flickr is a service/softwar that sits on the shoulders of many others. I’ve been online since 1998 and blogging regularly since 1999. Flickr is easy, that is all. Though I WILL NOT pay anything for the privilege of loading images to this advertising infested homepage.

Perhaps I should be taking a closer look at the legalease that could very well have been written by a fellow Oxford alumni who specialises in Intellectual Property Law. Are we being hood winked?

My joy in Flickr is in part contributing, and sharing and letting the world know that what I do exists or existed … however, Flickr is fast becoming some kind of landfil for crap pics …

I’m careless about uploading more than one click of the same image and more than one enhanced image …

Having already put on line the 25000 memoir of my late grandfather I had fun putting in some pics of my own but am having even more fund linking his story to images others have collected … and pasting verbatim memories of his into the comment slot of pics of others.

It is very much about keeping his memory alive. Is this a human thing? Camp fire stories of warriors and their fights? For me it is an intellectual journey too … I simply cannot find a way to get over to others what these men, these boys, went through. So I have read everything … and ought to be taking an MA or reading for a doctoral thesis on some aspect of the Great War.

My greatest latest aquisition a full set of magazines published on the Great War in the 1930s in which each edition opens with an editorial from H.G.Wells.

Flickr? So far it works …. I have all my images on a disc and will share them with whatever site I like, on my own and with others. Things will move on.

I will find I am linking all of this into family trees & war grave info and census returns.

And perhaps a couple of bodies will be dug up, given a military burial and their names lifted from those of the missing.

Perhaps human kind will get the message – one hideous death through a bullet, a bomb or gas is enough.

We should be seeing more pictures of the horribly injured from WWI & WWII … and the current conflicts in the Middle-East. Death we do well, maimed young men we cry over.

Getting the images online is a pelarva: photo or scan, the manipulate to make black & white, sharpen, then upload for the web so you don’t blow the permitted bandwidth in one go.

Standard are irrelevant as the pictures I post I expect to be only of a quality to observe online, not download for print publication or posters. Copyright isn’t an issue yet as my sharing these images is part of singing this song. I would take issue with anyone claiming copyright to a picture they didn’t own. I have wallets and packets of photographs that I have been given … that have been handed down.

Stats matter becuase they satisfy my ego … they are of interest. In particular it is the linking of my grandther’s verbatim words to images supplied by others that is ringing true.

A picture might be worth a thousand words … but a thousand words goes a long way to make an image a narrative, to put it into context and give it meaning and relevance.

Age 87 I took my grandfather to the Imperial War Musuem where he was re-introduced to the Vicker’s Machine Gun. He had not been behind one in nearly 70 years. He crouched behind this gun in the armoury in his mack & flat cap as if he was 20 years old, his thumbs went to the locks, checked hte sights, and fiddled about and then he placed the two enormous pads of his thumbs onto the triggers.

He was ready to kill, or guard, or save his skin and that of his mates … he was back in a recently captured Jerry pill box with those he had known for months in his unit clutching their guts and breathing their last. I wish I had filmed that!

I have in mind an installation that uses Flickr images of the Great War that might start to enthrall, intrigue and perhaps terrify visitors. A walk through maze with life size images, and smells and dummy limbs and rats, and lice … and mud up to the throat and bullets whiszzing bombs going off while solders do diarrhea into their trousers and comit on the duckboards ..

I guess I am there from an historical research perspective ‘read in a subject until you can hear the people speak.’ I can smell them, touch them, speak to them … I an empathise with them.

My grandfather survived, his efforts set his daughter on a middle-class platform and I was born into a family of aspiring professionals & entrepreneurs. Indeed my grandfather had been the son of the chauffeur of some big family who owned breweries & the like … and lived to see his grandchildren living that lifestyle with domestic staff, a cook and groundsman, a chauffeur even, the Rolls on the gravel courtyard of the castle …

All of this, yet right to the moment of his death, he feared this moment, the potential loneliness leading up to it and certainly his growing incapacity.

With a few sips from a can of Newcastle Brown Ale Jack Wilson passed away in December 2nd 1992 age 96 years and 3 months. His parting words were no different to those his mates had used on the Western Front.

Okay, he didn’t call for his mother. He realised that was a non starter.

‘Bugger’ was his final word. Or as he put it ‘You Bugs.’

We are still yet to scatter his ashes …

Over the North Sea where he was training as a fighter pilot in 1919 I think.

Or a grain glued to every picture I have of him from this period.

Have I said enough?

My blog is 1.6 million words thick. Courtesy of Flickr I intended to illustrate it. I am starting with the 24+ entries and 25000 words of my late grandfather’s memoir. At some stage I will go out and film it. I have in mind an open cast mine in Canada as the spot to recreate Paschendale.

The Imperial War Museum has the transcript of interviews I conducted. I have the digital cassettes that I have copied and should digitise.

On the 90th anniversay Grantham did a thing on the Machine Gun Corps and used chunks of Jack’s memoir and pictures I had supplied.

It will never be enough. Not until I own the rights to ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and make another movie of it to the standard of ‘Saving Private Ryan.’

%d bloggers like this: