After seven and a half months of saying “I really must do something” I finally started in earnest a couple of weeks ago, as you may have noticed in previous posts.
The result was a presentation that fell far short of my original plans. Fortunately, nobody apart from me knew this and I just tried to look confident and smile. It would probably be better if I was an habitual smiler. It doesn’t come naturally and it does tend to make me look like I’m auditioning for the part in the Ladykillers. Think 1955 Alec Guinness, not the new one.
The main thing is to remember that it’s rare that you have anyone in the audience that knows as much as you do. so yuo don’t need to be perfect.
There were a couple of complaints from the usual suspects about not being able to hear. They didn’t bother to tell me to speak up at the time and, as usual, they sat at the back, which isn’t the best place if you can’t hear.
Julia sat behind them. She could hear. In fact she said the only time she had trouble hearing was when the old gits were chuntering about not being able to hear.
Next time I will ask if everyone can hear me. Better still, I will prepare a slide saying – “Can you hear me at the back?”. After all, if they are that deaf they may not be able to hear me ask.
I will also set off earlier. I thought I set off in plenty of time, but the traffic congestion from the bridge works is clogging things up. I was stuck for 30 minutes at one point just to travel 100 yards and get round a roundabout.I had to text to say I was stuck, and then I had to get set up without practice.
When I pressed the button for the first slide it was the first time I’d ever used PowerPoint. Fortunately it’s (mainly) idiot proof and I only pressed the wrong button three times. That means I pressed the right button 21 times. Three sounds a small number but in percentage terms it’s not impressive.
At least with PowerPoint you don’t have to take loads of slides, you can’t load it wrong way round and it doesn’t jam, overheat or blow the bulbs. I’m sure I can work on this area and break PowerPoint, I just haven’t found out how to do it yet.
One thing I did do was get the notes disastrously wrong. Having taken advice from Julia I wrote notes in PowerPoint, assuming it would be easy to access them on the night. This, I felt, was far better than a pile of cards, reading glasses and poor light. We switched the machine on, I pressed the button, and I stared in panic…
I looked at the screen, I looked at the computer, I looked at Julia. Nothing. It turns out that there is slightly more to the notes feature than I thought.
You’re all thinking one of two things aren’t you? Some of you are thinking “I bet he has a back-up plan with a selection of colour-coded note cards linked to each slide”.
And some of you are thinking “I bet he has a back-up plan with a selection of colour-coded note cards linked to each slide, and I bet he left them next to his computer as he left the house.”
You are both right. I did have a back-up, and I did leave it at home.
So – a sea of faces, darkness, no notes on PowerPoint, a distance of five miles between me and my back-up cards. I have had better moments.
I thought of sneaking out before the lights came back on.
I’m not built for sneaking, so there was nothing more to be done. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and start…
The photos are a medallion given to the staff of the Wath Main Colliery Company. This one is to Harry Winder, who enlisted in 1915. He was a coal hewer and lived in a cottage with his parents and ten siblings. I suspect he was one of those people who found the army to be easier than living at home. In the army they often got better food and lighter work.
He did not, as far as I can see, serve overseas, as he was not A1 physically, due to a hernia sustained whilst mining, and he served with an Anti-Aircraft Battery for three years.
The German bombing campaign in the Great War consisted of 51 airship raids and 27 aircraft raids. They killed 1,392 people and injured 3,330. They lost 30 airships and 62 aircraft, so Harry Winder was doing an important job. Compared to the 43,000 killed in 1939-41, this is not a big number, but it is surprisingly large when you consider the technology in use.
I can only find one other definite trace of Harry Winder in the records as there was another man of the same name in the area and this confuses matters. The following newspaper report from 1923 is definitely “our” Harry Winder though.