2005-08/August 1, 2005
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CAPE COD IMMINENT - ONLY 2 MONTHS TO GO
Art Cornell writes:
The Gathering on Cape Cod is now only two months away. We have about sixty people coming for sure. There are seven from Great Britain, two from Australia, one from the Netherlands and the rest are from the States. We are hoping for about twenty more.
CONFIRMING THE IDENTITY OF THE REAL SEAFARERS
Ann Menhinick has sent me more information on the comparison of the real lives of Alec and Spiffy Menhinick with the characters and events in The Seafarers.
Editor's Comment: Luke's Yard at Hamble featured in Shute's books almost
from the beginning to the end. Sadly, the remains of Lukes Yard are now
under a parking lot at Hamble. I am still looking for a photo of Luke's Yard
for the website Photo Album.
A BROWN PLAQUE FOR KEITH STEWART'S HOUSE?
Discussions have occurred about a possible Green Plaque to mark Nevil
Shute's birthplace at 16 Somerset Rd, Ealing, London but currently it
doesn't seem likely that this will go ahead any time soon.
WHEN SHUTE WAS A HUMAN COMPUTER
Readers recalling that Nevil Shute headed a team of human computers on R100, will be interested that Jack Calaway has written to alert us to a book called When Computers Were Human. Here are some excerpts from an interesting, longer review at books.slashdot.org which explains a lot: When Computers Were Human By David Alan Grier
In the not-so-distant past, engineers scientists and mathematicians routinely consulted tables of numbers for the answers to questions that they could not solve analytically.
Much of this calculation was performed under the Work Projects Administration in the United States during the Great Depression.
required the hiring of people with virtually no skills, so much of the
definitive work of the Mathematical Tables Project was computed by people
who had mastered only addition. They were not authorized to subtract,
Perhaps the most memorable fact from the early years of human computing is
that the very first team of French computers, assembled by Gaspard Clair
Francois Marie Riche de Prony in the early 1790s, was composed entirely of
wig-makers left unemployed by the French Revolution. They created
trigonometric tables required by France's experiments with the
decimalization of trigonometry (an abandoned effort to do for angle measure
what the metric system was doing for the measurement of mass, length, and so
Editor's Comment: On the website, one of the readers of this review had added this comment:
My mother was one of those computers - she worked in England during WWII, using a 'comptometer' and had no idea what she was computing, despite hearing random roaring noises from elsewhere in the facility, until one fine day she was introduced to a Mr. Whittle, who had designed one of the first jet engines for Great Britain.
Robert Edwards has written appreciating the contributors and researchers who add so greatly to the newsletter and to our understanding of Nevil Shute. Robert regretted that often he wished he could write to thank those authors who have given him pleasure but can't because they are now dead. Robert writes:
Alas, so many that I have taken for granted have died. So authors like Nevil Shute, Patrick O'Brian and J B Priestley cannot be told by a reader of the pleasure given on a first reading and the continual pleasure of re-reading their work.
Editor's Comment: I agree with Robert that, if possible, we should
appreciate people while they are around and similarly regret I am unable to
express my appreciation to many long dead great authors.
ARCHIVE PIRATES RAID AGAIN / FISTICUFFS AT CARDINGTON
John Anderson and his fellow archive pirate Andy Burgess visited Cambridge University Library recently to look at the Vickers (Airship Guarantee Company) archive stored in their Manuscripts Department. John's daughter's friend Jaqui had advised them about navigating the through the archive. John writes:
There are over 30 microfilms containing thousands of documents. In addition there was the Minute Book of Board Meetings from 1923 to 1927.
Notes from John Anderson:
Shute says in Slide Rule that the crews needed a lot of keeping in check
particularly when there was not much work for them to do he may have been
thinking of this incident when he wrote that.
Editor's Comment: Call me crazy but I think the letter's author could have a career in writing ahead of him. I suspect there are some gems amongst the 350 pages of normally dry day-to-day business letters in those files. I would just love to read them all.
Andy Burgess made copies of a correspondence between Shute and Barnes Wallis that started when Shute sent Barnes Wallis a copy of Slide Rule in 1954.
NEVIL SHUTE FLYING SCHOLARSHIP TO BE AWARDED AFTER FLYPAST
This year's Nevil Shute Flying Scholarship will be awarded to this year's
winner, Jeannie Campbell, at the Dawn Patrol Breakfast on Sunday 18th
ALICE ON LASER DISC (ON WHAT?)
Arnold Hawk writes:
A Town Like Alice (Helen Morse, Bryan Brown) also appeared on LASER VIDEO DISC, at least here in the US.
Editor's Comment: I was going to say that younger readers may need reminding that Laser Discs were an LP-sized earlier version of DVDs that came out in the late 70s and 80s but never really caught on. But then I realised that younger readers wouldn't even know what LP-sized meant anyway so I don't think I will bother. (would 'medium-pizza-sized' work?)
THE GREAT BOFFIN HUNT
Katie Cochrane Katie@takeawaymedia.co.uk of Takeaway Media, London England writes:
I am contacting you from a television production company in the UK called Takeaway Media. We are currently working on a programme for the BBC about the origin of words.
I replied that Boffin is certainly used in No Highway (1948).
A note from your Web Lackey: A quick search with Mamma.com dug up this web site, which should be interesting to most NSNF members.
MAKING DVD SAFETY COPIES OF VHS TAPES
As you may know, all VHS tapes eventually degrade and stop working.
Anyone with VHS tapes should soon burn them to DVDs before they decompose
completely or their VHS player dies. VHS players will eventually be phased
out as DVD recorders become cheaper.
Most home-recorded videocassettes should transfer to a DVD, but A Town Like Alice is the only commercial video that we have been able to transfer. The commercial movies of today are all encoded with protection against copies.
Another note from your Web Lackey: I have recently developed an interest in video production and audio transcribing (LP/audio tape/VHS to CD/DVD). I have many friends who are lawyers, and the advice I get from them is this: US Copyright laws allow the legitimate owner of a medium (tape, record, DVD, CD) to make one archival copy of the medium for personal use, so no one is going to run afoul of US law by transcribing a VHS tape to DVD. I have been doing this for friends for some time now (using my computer), and I make a point of prefacing the transaction with two caveats:
THE SEARCH FOR RUNAGATE
Joost Meulenbroek firstname.lastname@example.org, who has been trying to find Shute's yacht Runagate, writes:
Tonight I finally spoke to Mr. Henderson, who owned Runagate.
Editor's Comment: Joost has since sent me photos and details of a forlorn
looking Runagate in storage out of the water in 2003. These will eventually
find their way onto on the website.
TRUSTEE FILM RIGHTS / CASTING SUGGESTIONS
I have heard on the grapevine that major British film producer Marc
Samuelson currently holds the film rights for Trustee From The Toolroom.
Anyone finding themselves at a swanky Hollywood-style cocktail party with
Marc Samuelson should sidle up and casually remind him that there are over
500 newsletter readers out there who very well might consider renting the
DVD if he makes the film. At 1 Pound profit per rental he could then count
on receiving anywhere up to 500 Pounds back on his investment.
MATCHED SET FOR SALE
Karen Liminton of Bristol, The UK writes:
I have twenty-two of Nevil Shute' books which belonged to my late father. They are all in excellent condition and in hard back. Is there a place where I could sell these books and if would like to buy them what price would you be prepared to pay?
Editor's Comment: It sounds like Karen has the famous matched set in new condition. Karen lives in Bristol, England. Is anyone interested in making Karen an offer? If so, please contact her directly at: email@example.com
JOHN BULL'S GOOD LITERARY TASTE
Gerard Martin of The UK writes:
My leaving present from a colleague at my last school was a first edition of On The Beach and a curious poster. It is poster for John Bull magazine [every Wednesday - fourpence] announcing the great new serial The Far Country by Nevil Shute.
Editor's Comment: An internet search revealed that John Bull magazine was an
English magazine very similar to The Saturday Evening Post.
If you go to: http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/gallery_johnbull.php
you can see copies of several Norman Rockwell-esque covers which convey the
feeling of the magazine.
AIRSPEED'S HISTORY AFTER SHUTE
Janic Geelen of New Zealand who is working on a history of the de Havilland Aircraft Company writes:
I checked through the web page and found that some folk in your organisation have done research on Airspeed. Since this comes into the de Havilland Aircraft story it will be included in the two volumes that cover the 1940-1975 period. I have experienced a lot of problems trying to integrate the Airspeed side into the overall de Havilland story and would appreciate help from anybody who was working for the factory at Portsmouth or Christchurch.
Editor's Comment: I have replied to Janic offering assistance. I also eagerly asked about the photo of Tiltman as photos of him are as rare as hen's teeth. I will keep you all posted.
My wife and I have just finished listening (again) to Recorded Books' In
The Wet, one of our favorites, which we've read a number of times in the
Editor's Comment: I have also always wondered. I doubt there is a publicised list of The Queen's bedside reading but does anyone know?
AIRCRAFT CARRIER GOLDMINE
The last newsletter carried an item about Andy Banta's call for assistance
researching 1930s British aircraft carriers but I forgot to attach Andy
Banta's email address.
Grady Jensen also assisted with a comprehensive website he found at http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/carriers1.htm
I still can't believe that some mutt, an unknown hack like Dickens, gets 10
Blue Plaques and Shute gets none! They'll be handing them out to
Still another note from your Web Lackey:
As the rest of the world knows, we Yanks cannot seem to get in step with the rest of the world and use the metric system. My personal opinion is that the problem is partially caused by a need to relate metric units to the Other (dare I say British?) system, and the confusion caused by constantly converting back and forth.
That completes this month's newsletter.
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