Friday, 22 August 2014

Pride Goes Before a Fall

Every now and then we have to make important decisions. For both Marcia and me these are moments we tend to dread – we both have enough imagination to see all the things that can go wrong with whatever route is under consideration. In the end, of course, this leads to inertia: the 'do nothing' option becomes increasingly attractive. At these times we start talking about 'sins of omission and sins of commission'. Would one rather be found guilty of the former or the latter?

Once again - there are no photographs that belong in this blog so . . .
On Tuesdays there is a flower seller in Totnes market. It is one of two sisters who grow all the flowers themselves in a wonderful old walled garden. Marcia loves bunches of cut flowers and far prefers the simple ones in season to the exotic. Here she is treating herself to just such a bunch.
Before tackling that subject properly bear with me as I wander down a small by-way. Have you ever thought how odd it is that there is only one 'm' in omission but 2 in commission? It seems that omission comes through late Middle English from the Latin 'omissio'. Commission meanwhile comes to us via Middle Enrlish and Old French from the Latin 'commissio'. This is an entirely unsatisfactory answer but it does have one advantage: you can't blame the English – it was clearly the fault of the Romans.

Not very much to say about this one except it was taken in La Fourchette.
Back to the decisions we have taken not that long ago. As you may know I have been working on some books which deal with 'Marcia Willett's West Country'. The first of these, Marcia Willett's Dartmouth' is essentially finished but how to publish it has been up in the air for some time. Obviously the initial intention was to publish them as 'coffee-table' books with lots of pretty photographs and so on. The problem with that route is that the books would then be extremely expensive and neither of us felt over happy with that. So we decided to explore the ebook option. In part this has been driven by the number of people who we know now read ebooks – most of them on a Kindle. Having costed this out and come to the realisation that it would then be available at about the same price as a standard paperback, we decided to go for it with one important proviso: that I could master the required software and publishing requirements of a book which will still have quite a lot of pictures and a few maps.

At least once a year we have lunch at Turtley Corn Mill where there are a number of free range birds who add a certain something to the occasion. We have been here before, you and I, but I don't think I have put up a photograph of one of their peacocks. Why once a year? Well, we have a friend who lives nearby and we have got into the habit of lunching together in order to celebrate our various birthdays.
This is a major step up from publishing simple text books (books containing nothing than text – not textbooks which are something quite different) which art I have already mastered using a format known as epub..

Illustrated books of this sort are new in the ebook world and rely on a new format called epub3. The software arrived about a fortnight ago and I have been on an extremely steep and very muddy learning curve – the sort where sliding backwards is far easier than scrambling up with finger nails dragging in the ooze. Probably my fault, really. The very best software comes with a full range of support from the suppliers – come down the price range to something that is really just as good in technical terms and you soon find out why this is far cheaper. There is no meaningful technical support at all – you are on your own playing with this and that until it all falls into place and you finally hit that EUREKA moment.

You may remember that there were a lot of problems with the weather damage to the front wall of the medieval building in Totnes' High Street in which the shoe shop 'Conkers' is housed. I put up a picture of it shrouded in scaffolding and tarpaulins. The work is now finished and the result is very satisfactory. Note the gargoyles on the key stones over the windows - one of which appears below..
Thus it is with great pride that I can announce that I think I have cracked it (but won't be sure until the first book is finished, uploaded to Amazon and then downloaded again – keep all fingers crossed). Doesn't mean the book will be available tomorrow as it has to be properly formatted and so on but we are talking weeks and not months.

And then, on Wednesday, I fell down the stairs. No bones broken and nothing sprained but plenty of bruises and I was pretty groggy throughout Thursday. So there you have it – pride goes before a fall.

Meet Guinness. For those of you who do not live in the UK I should explain that Guinness is a drink which started life in Ireland (and the Irish are good at this sort of thing) and migrated to the UK. I have no idea whether it has arrived in the US or south of the equator and so I apologise if I am telling my grandmother how to suck eggs. Anyway, the thing is that Guinness is a very dark stout which has a very white head when poured. Thus the black and white theme runs through many Guinness advertising campaigns and this ten-year-old Tibetan Terrier when a puppy was pure black and white. Time, however, has brought some grey into the equation (as many of us know it does). He remains, however, a delightful character.