The Colour of Memory

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 0 comments

Lest We Forget

When I was growing up history was something that permeated our house.

There were books and photos, and old records.

There were fossils, models, maps and artifacts.

I was always interested in military history, because the military and warfare runs like a horrible bloody thread through the history of civilization. Didn't matter if it was ancient history, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Celts, or Mediaeval sieges and battles, or 18th and 19th C wars, or the great upheavals of the 20th C. I was interested in them all. There was one thing that I remember very clearly though and that was the major difference in the way my Father treated the wars of the 20th C compared to those of history.

These wars were different, they were different because they were still MEMORY not just HISTORY. My Grandfather fought in the First World War and I had friends whose parents had fought in the Second.
The Ghosts of these wars were not ready to be history yet. They were real people still living, still working, still hugging their loved ones and trying to live with the MEMORY of chaos and destruction that they had been forced to live through. They also struggled with the memory of those they had lost.

British troops negotiate a trench as they go forward
in support of an attack on the village of Morval
during the Battle of the Somme. Photograph: PA

As a kid my strongest impression of the difference between the Wars of History and the Wars of Memory was simply that History had colour whereas the modern wars of the 20th C were BLACK and WHITE.

We had photographs of these titanic struggles in all their gritty horror, you could see the face of war in its terror and its destruction, but there was no colour. That made them real in some senses but strangely unreal in others.

The Thin Red Line. 93rd Highlanders at Balaclava.
Illustration for Scotland for Ever (Hodder and Stoughton, c 1900).

The wars depicted in the history books were often illustrated in colour paintings, romanticized,
propagandized, draped with the colours of empire and the gloss of academic history. The Wars of living Memory were written of that way but they were illustrated with photographs that gave a glimpse of the true nature of war.

The first time I saw colour photos from the Second World War I was shocked, these were real people, they looked my age, they were not the Black and White ghosts that I had seen for so many years. Along with the colour came the realization that these great upheavals had been filled with REAL people who smelled the earth, the smoke the blood and the death just as I could. Suddenly War changed from a historical event to a mass tragedy, necessary sometimes but never something to take lightly. Suddenly to stand with the dwindling numbers of veterans on November 11th became not only a duty, but an honour. These men and women had seen unimaginable horrors, they had lived through chaos and destruction and they were REAL people. People I could shake the hands of, people I could see standing with tears for their lost youth and their lost friends. The colour that is in their memories we can never see, we only have the black and white old photos.

Photo by Neil Zeller
There is now, no longer anyone alive who knows the colours of WWI, who remembers the smell of the mud of Flanders, the sound of artillery or the shrieks of dying companions. That war has become history.

Soon the same will happen for those who lived through WWII. And still, there are wars where young men and women fight because they are told to. There are still men and women now much younger than me who will have such memories. 

To stand beside them today is to stand beside all of those who are now history, to stand and remember is to make sure that History is not forgotten.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

"The Night Mail" Rudyard Kipling 1905

Saturday, October 18, 2014 0 comments

A Rudyard Kipling SF tale.

Reading the Log of the H.M.A. R 34 I posted about last time I came across this gem:

10.15 a.m. Weather report from St. John's :"Barometer 1010.2.Steady ; temperature 44 F. Fog. Visibility about half a mile, fog seaward, wind westerly, very light."
This is all right.
Turned in for an hour, but unable to sleep.
Become absorbed in Kipling's story of "The Night Mail" in Actions and Reactions. Think I must have read this story fifty times! Every time I read it the more impressed I become with the reality of its prophecies, which give one that very same  "atmosphere" of Aerial Liner travel that we are actually experiencing during every
moment of this journey.

 A quick lookup on Google and I discover this wonderful tale:

With the Night Mail

A STORY OF 2000 A.D.



Illustrated in Color

Doubleday, Page & Company

This is a wonderful SF tale about traveling on a Mail Packet across the Atlantic. A delightful look at a future where airships are as much a part of regular air traffic as are heavier than air craft.

You can read the whole book, complete with the original colour illustrations, at Project Gutenberg here:

"With the Night Mail" by Rudyard Kipling

A bonus is the ads and articles that make up the "EXTRACTS FROM THE CONTEMPORARY
MAGAZINE IN WHICH IT APPEARED" portion.  Here is an example:

 High Level Flickers
"He that is down need fear no fall"

Fear not! You will fall lightly as down!

Hansen's air-kits are down in all respects. Tremendous reductions in prices previous to winter stocking. Pure para kit with cellulose seat and shoulder-pads, weighted to balance. Unequaled for all drop-work.  Our trebly resilient heavy kit is the ne plus ultra of comfort and safety.  Gas-buoyed, waterproof, hail-proof, non-conducting Flickers with pipe and nozzle fitting all types of generator. Graduated tap on left hip.
Hansen's Flickers Lead the Aerial Flight
197 Oxford Street
The new weighted Flicker with tweed or cheviot surface cannot be distinguished from the ordinary suit till inflated.
So what exactly is a "flicker" a parachute or some sort of personal lift device?
Lots more intriguing bits and pieces of the world of 2000 AD as envisioned by Rudyard Kipling.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

The Log of H.M.A R34

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 0 comments

Trans Atlantic Airship!

The  R 34 was built in 1918 for the Royal Navy by the William Beardmore and Company in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her design was influenced strongly by that of a German Zeppelin that had been captured almost intact in England during the war.

In 1921 it was decided to attempt the first ever return East to West flight across the Atlantic.

From Wikipedia

It was then decided to attempt the first return Atlantic crossing, under the command of Major George Scott.[11] R34 had never been intended as a passenger carrier and extra accommodation was arranged by slinging hammocks in the keel walkway. Hot food was prepared using a plate welded to an engine exhaust pipe.

The crew included Brigadier-General Edward Maitland and Zachary Lansdowne as the representative of the US Navy.[12] William Ballantyne, one of the crew members scheduled to stay behind to save weight, stowed away with the crew's mascot, a small tabby kitten called "Whoopsie"; they emerged at 2.00 p.m. on the first day, too late to be dropped off.[13]

R34 left Britain on 2 July 1919 and arrived at Mineola, Long Island, United States on 6 July after a flight of 108 hours with virtually no fuel left.[14] As the landing party had no experience of handling large rigid airships, Major E. M. Pritchard jumped by parachute and so became the first person to reach American soil by air from Europe. This was the first East-West crossing of the Atlantic and was achieved weeks after the first transatlantic aeroplane flight. The return journey to RNAS Pulham took place from 10 to 13 July and took 75 hours.

As an observer on board the crossing Air Commodore Maitland kept a log of everything that occurred and this was published as a book. Illustrated with 35 photographs taken during the flight, this is real airship adventure!

Here is the introduction to this fascinating read.
IT is often thought necessary to preface a 
first literary effort with apologies from the author 
for its shortcomings. In this instance no one 
could be more aware of such a necessity than 
myself. But am I entitled to make apologies? 
R 34 is not a literary effort neither, therefore, 
am I an author. 

In writing a story such as this, the obvious 
and comparatively simple course would have 
been the adoption of the conventional narrative 
form, helped by notes and memories, ample 
time and thought and a comfortable arm-chair. 

Apart, however, from its practical usefulness 
or official importance, R 34's journey was just 
one long, wonderful and delightful experience. 

To look upon this journey coldly as part of 
yesterday, or to treat it with recognized con- 
vention, would be to lose both the essence and 
the spirit. 

My only hope of convincing my reader of this 
is to try and induce him to share our adventure- 
taking him with us upon our flight. 

Every word of this diary was written on board 
the Airship during the journey, with the exception 
of the explanatory footnotes and, of course, the 
appendices : the writer perched in odd corners, 
and amid continuous interruptions and ever- 
changing surroundings, to the silent accom- 
paniment of the wireless, like ghostly whispers 
across lonely space. Every incident, important 
or trifling, was recorded at the actual time of 
happening. Even to stop to focus or to pigeon- 
hole these would have been to destroy actuality. 

If only I can share a little of that fascinating 
and buoyant adventure with any readers of these 
pages I shall be content, I only hope my ship- 
mates may not find their journey too dull; if 
they do they must not blame R 34, for the 
fault will be mine. 
You can read this wonderful adventure in its entirety at the Internet Archive

For those who want a hard cover version of this book a reprint  edition is also available from Amazon
Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

The Log of H.M.A. R34
Journey to America and Back.

Air-Commodore E. M. Maitland
C.M.G., D.S.O, A.F.C, Royal Air Force


Hodder and Stoughton
Kessinger Publishing (Sept. 10 2010)


Mr Hublot

Sunday, October 5, 2014 0 comments


A delightful short film by Laurent Witz.

This short won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar in 2013.

 Check out the trailer:

If you get a chance to see this I highly recommend it.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Mystery Solved!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 0 comments

Thanks to everyone who entered their solutions.

SPOILER WARNING this post contains the solution to the Mystery of "The Evil Eye of Africa" if you would rather try to figure it out on your own first you can start at the beginning here.

Here is Margaret Curelas of Tyche Books, with her announcement of the winners and the solution!

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

"The Evil Eye of Africa"
By Jayne Barnard

A Guess-the-Murderer Mystery in Two Acts 

Steampunk Mystery Game Solution and Winners

Thank you to everyone for reading and submitting solutions to "The Evil Eye of Africa" Steampunk Mystery Game! Many thanks to Madame Saffron for reviewing entries. And, of course, our deepest appreciation to Jayne Barnard for writing the story and giving us such amusement.

Three intrepid detectives have solved the mystery: H. L. Dickson; Tim Ford; and James Prescott. All three submitted wonderful analyses of the mystery, and their solutions are presented below. Each poses several queries that we hope Hercule Hornblower will be able to resolve when he makes his arrest.

Now, the moment you have been waiting is time to unmask the murderer of Baron von Boddy!

Report from the Parasol Duelling World Championships

Monday, September 15, 2014 1 comments

We have a new World Champion!

Saturday September 13, 2014 dawned grey and chilly in Calgary.

The previous week had seen an unseasonal and tree-damaging pair of heavy snow falls with temperatures dropping 27 degrees C in 12 hours!

Wed Sept 10, 2014
Two days before
the World Championships!

It was not at all certain that the outdoor venue at which we were to have the Championships would be ready.

The World Championships were scheduled to run at a major outdoor event called Little Big Street during the Beakerhead festival in Calgary, and right up to the Saturday morning it was unclear just what kind of conditions the contestants, judges, and spectators would have to contend with. Luckily as the morning progressed the temperatures rose and the clouds thinned. By the time the competitions began in early afternoon the day was quite pleasant and by the end of the competitions the new World Champion could accept her accolade under a bright September Sun.

Since there has never been a full formal Parasol Duelling competition, one that included all three sections of Compulsory Figures, Flirtation Trials, and Duelling, it took a bit to get organized but soon the competitions began.

There were nine competitors entered in the competitions. Two were Junior ladies who could not participate in the Flirtation trials but participated in the Duelling and Compulsory Figures. One lady competed in the Duelling competition only.

The entrants to the World Championships of Parasol Duelling 2014
L to R
Standing: Josanna Justine, Sarafina Kain, Cali Kyhn, Karen Siemens, Teigan Blondin de Boer, Lorna Vanderloh
Front: Briona Justine, Raven Hawthorne

The Judges for this event were:
The Honourable Madeline Salisbury (aka Monica Willard)

Baroness Daniela Fawkes (aka Dana Teh)

Her Grace Doctor Christine Pearse Duchess of Argylle (aka Christie Vanderloh)
Chief Judge, and Black Sash, Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock (aka Jayne Barnard)

There were two Doctors for the event, myself and Dr. Johann Portsmouth Adler (aka Stewart MacPhee)
Dr. Johann Portsmouth Adler (aka Stewart MacPhee)
receives his Doctor's ribbon from the Chief Judge

The order of the competitions was Compulsory Figures, followed by the Flirtations Trials and then by the Parasol Duelling.

The Compulsory Figures were interesting. Each contestant must complete all three figures during the standard count, in the order Plant/Twirl/Snub, and they must make each figure distinct. It was a difficult job for the judges to determine the winner. The contestants did very well each completing all the figures in the six seconds allowed. There was a surprising amount of variation between their routines.

Each contestant ran through the figures three times before the judges.

Karen Siemens, in the guise of a Hungarian competitor, complete with accent and attitude to match, livened up the proceedings.  When I reminded her, pointing at her cuffs, that under the Brandenburg variations of the Hanoverian Rules lace was not allowed and she must remove them, she promptly replied "Really? My Lace? As you wish" and started to undo her blouse!

Once that misunderstanding was cleared up, with much laughter and chuckling from the crowd, the competition continued apace.

The winner of the Compulsory Figures Competition was Josanna Justine with her elegant, smooth and graceful display.

The Flirtation Trials were run with three contestants at a time going through their routines together.  Each trial consists of the contestants doing one of the standard figures, elaborating on the move for the full count and finishing with a completed form in a tableau of sorts. The figure to be done is chosen by the judges and there is a trial for each of the standard figures.

Flirtations are a chance for the contestants to show off their creativity while still performing a complete figure. The competitors did not disappoint, with each figure being shown with elegant, tasteful but exotic positioning.
For this competition the audience is asked to participate by indicating, by applause, their favourite of the three in each trial.
A Flirtation Trial for the Plant
L to R
Josanna Justine, Teigan Blondin de Boer, Karen Siemens

 The winner of the Flirtation Trials was Karen Siemens who, with her Faux Hungarian accent and attitude, but also precise and controlled movements, wowed both the audience and the judges.

Karen Siemens Flirtation Trial Champion with Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock Chief Judge

A tea break followed the conclusion of the Flirtations, whilst the competitors warmed up for the Parasol Duelling competition itself.

Tea at the Judges table
The Duchess of Argylle and Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock
The light and the dark in amity.
With the preliminary competitions done and the Sun shining brightly the formal Parasol Duels began.
Here the skill and style of all the competitors, young and old(er) alike, was very apparent. These Ladies had been practicing intensely for this competition.

Once the first rounds were done there was a short period of deliberation and the judges revealed the Semi Finalists.
The Semi Finalists
L to R
Cali Kyhn, Sarafina Kain, Simone 'Bronwyn' Haywood- Brazel, Karen Siemens

The excitement of these final duels was palpable! Even spectators who knew nothing about what they were seeing knew something big was happening. After a couple of duels the final two contestants faced off to determine who would be Duelling Champion!

After the applause and huzzahs died down Madame Saffron Taxus-Hemlock, as chief judge, rose to present the competition champions with their sashes.

Madame Saffron Taxus Hemlock presents Sarafina Kain with her Duelling Champion's Sash
The Compulsory Figures Champion Josanna Justine

The Flirtation Trials Champion Karen Siemens adjusts her sash.
Finally, as a hush fell upon the crowd, Madame announced the Lady who, based on the points from all three competitions, was to be awarded the title of the First World Champion of Parasol Duelling.

Karen Seimens World Champion
Receives her sash from the Chief Judge

And here they are: the winners and World Champion of the 2014 World Championships of Parasol Duelling.
L to R
Sarafina Kain, Duelling Champion
Karen Siemens, Flirtation Trials and World Champion!
Josanna Justine, Compulsory Figures Champion
Congratulations Ladies! 
Well done!

This was an interesting and complex event. One that demonstrated the full range of Parasol Duelling competitions. For being the first one ever, I think it came together very well and everybody seemed to be enjoying  the event and definitely got into the spirit of competition.

Photo by: Curtis Anderson
L to R
Back: Lorna Vanderloh, Christie Vanderloh, Monica Willard. Andrew Nadon, Cali Kyhn, Sarafina Kain, Me, Stewart MacPhee, Karen Seimens, Teigan Blondin de Boer, Jessep Crossfield
Front: Coleman Vanderloh, Rown(?), Raven Hawthorne, Briona Justine, Jayne Barnard, Dana Teh, Josanna Justine.
Missing: Simone 'Bronwyn' Haywood- Brazel, Peter Justine and Jess Willard

Thanks to everyone who helped to make this event happen:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I salute you!

And so the bright September sun set on the first ever Parasol Duelling World Championship.
Thanks for reading!

Photo by Audra Balion

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

For more information go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

For background on the history and development of Parasol Duelling 
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling

Parasol Duelling World Championships 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014 0 comments

Saturday September 13

The first World Championships of Parasol Duelling is happening!

If you are in Calgary come on down and cheer the Ladies on in their efforts to be the World Champion.

To follow the competition live the official Twitter and Facebook hashtag is #parasolduel.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

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