That's the new title for Francis's brother Andrew Wheen's forthcoming history of telecommunications to be published by Praxis. We thought the previous title, the Biggest Machine in the World was good but this one's a winner. And Andrew promises that WE will be able to understand it. (sub-title, by the way, is 'How Modern Telecommunications Evolved from the Telegraph to the Internet'. Just to be puffectly clear.)
Running sheets arrived on Friday - thrilled with the way the photos have turned out. You can see the dimples on their knees! Only sad that no-one - other than Francis, Roger and I will truly appreciate what a fabulous job Lesley did to get such wonderful clear scans from the yellowing pages of the 1934 US edition. She devised a method of scanning every page in colour then using paint shop pro to turn all the yellow to white. Then changed to grayscale. The result is a joy to look upon. (Good to read as well)
I was truly delighted to meet Francis's cousin Nigina Romer at a family gathering after Christmas. Nigina's father was killed defusing a land mine in Agfganistan and she has grown up with her mother in Switzerland. Now, aged 16, she sails a laser radial and is part of Swiss National squad. Nigina's sights are set on the 2016 Olympics but my ambitions are rather more short term: I want to watch her compete in this summer's laser world championships at Largs. And I shan't feel in the least unpatriotic if I'm cheering her on to win.
I like Essex journalist Pat Parker. I like her personally and I like the care she takes over her articles. She's interviewed Francis twice - once some years ago for the East Anglian Daily Times and again recently for Essex Life (possibly to be included also in a Suffolk sister magazine) but the first time Francis made a tactical mistake - he allowed her to look inside his shed. Now Francis's shed is a den; it's a hideout, a late night bolt hole, an area not covered by any conceivable health and hygiene regulations. Predictably Pat recoiled -- anyone would -- and her subequent article was fairly entitled 'My Untidy Shed'. Not 'My Great Mind' or 'My Incisive Take on Life, the Universe and Everything' but 'My Untidy Shed'.
When she offered to come again, in advance of the 2010 Essex Book Festival, we were certain that we weren't going to be caught twice. This interview would be indoors only. I hoovered, he cleared surfaces, the dog and cats were on their best behaviour and best of all Victoria Morris had recently repainted the entire sitting room -- kitchen and conservatory too. Pat's word this time was 'ramshackle' -- okay she did intend a compliment (and we do still like her) but what must we do if she ever comes again? Rebuild?
has been brought forward from April to March. Not sure how meaningful that'll be as March is going to be such a busy month for Francis - Jewish Book Week, the Aldeburgh Literary Festival, Dubai Festival, Essex Book Festival AND the publication of Cheapjack. An avatar is surely what he needs - or Harry Potter time-turner.