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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Far to go

Hannah Rowan Hollier born at 00.14 the morning of Thursday 24th February (photo: Richard Baddeley)

After the excitement on Thursday I went to London for the afternoon - Birmingham Snow Hill to Marylebone ... dawdling for my 10.14 train to London, I decided to photo myself alongside the statue between the platforms. A professor of dentistry with a classy camera asked to take a picture of me taking a selfie. He emailed it to me and but edited it with eyes askance in B & W on his Flickr stream.
With John McKenna's Commuter at Snow Hill Station (photo: Damien Walmsley).
From Marylebone I cycled north towards Hornsey to see Francis Niemczyk. I wanted a touch-look-talk at his place - to view the kit he's using to synchronise the ageing 16mm film and 1/4" reel-to-reel tape from my stepfather's archive of Out of Town programmes. Round Regents Park it was still sunny but humid. The forecast rain clouds were gathering. Kentish Town Road, Fortress Road, Junction Road to Archway, and urban heat brought the overcast to breaking point. There was lightning and thunder and on Hornsey Rise - a downpour; rivulets riding down the gutters; vehicles fecklessly throwing up sheets of drenching spray I dodged by walking the pavements until I could shelter below a petrol station canopy; dispense myself a milky coffee and choc cookie, before free-wheeling down Crouch End Hill, through the Broadway and along Park Road to Francis' side street. He's on night shift these days, sleeping from about 8.00am to 4.00pm. I followed him through the house to his garden shed so's I could see the kit he's using on the film and tape [links to the back story - the material and my journey to collect it from the West Country in April 2010)

The process of restoring the material I inherited from my stepfather is taking time. It's nearly a year since the first synchronisation (actually the second, as the restored episode that gave me the original idea of what might be done, was completed in May 2010 by Roger Charlesworth at SWFTA). Although we now have a list of the tapes that go with the films and Lin and I, in June 2013, duct taped a dozen pairs of tapes and film, based on the numbers pasted on them at SWFTA, and had five of these pairs taken to London for Francis to work on, only one pair has yet been synchronised. This sample, just over for four minutes, has been done perfectly, and gives an idea of what's involved.

The restoration process is nothing if not tricky, painstaking; even tedious.
"The atmos sound's not a problem but the spot sounds - like a hammer blow or a gate shutting - are"said Francis. He's lots of other film work, hitches with his machines, and he needs to work nights ... We discussed the possibility that after he's synchronised the next two pairs of sound tapes and film over the next fortnight, he focus on digitising sound tape and film and leaves the synchronisation for the moment. Then I suggested we see if it's possible to enlist additional helpers - people who might not have the technology or the skills to transfer the delicate 16mm film and the reel-to-reel sound tapes to DVDs, but do have the craft and perseverance required to work on synchronising the digitised sound to the digitised image on the archive material if provided with pairs of DVDs for each episode. One volunteer has described this in an email to Francis:
Hello Francis. My name is ***. I live in Maryland and became acquainted with Simon Baddeley and his efforts to rescue heretofore neglected and forgotten Out of Town material through his group on Facebook
One of the obvious problems Simon faces is the enormous amount of time and potential expense of stitching back together Stan Bréhaut’s MOS material with Jack’s extant recorded narratives. While Simon has made us aware of some of the technical challenges (e.g. sometimes having to time compress or dilate the narrative to match the flow of the picture), much of the effort appears to be the grunt work of cleaning up noise and persistently fiddling with the timing to get a good match.
Several of us in the circle of Jack’s fans have the digital tools and experience to be able to help with this on a volunteer basis, once the original digitalizations  are made. I suggested to Simon that he might farm out some of this raw material to us to accomplish some of the tedium. The would be little risk in trying this as all that would be passed to us are working copies of the original rips – and they can easily be passed to and worked on anywhere in the world. 
For myself, I was involved with website production for about 15 years which did involve a fair bit of video and sound editing & have use of a fairly powerful machine and the complete Adobe CS6 suite of software. For sound I move back & forth between Sony & Adobe, depending on the tools needed.
You are the one in the position to digitalize the precious originals and to judge which pieces require your technical expertise and which can be passed on to patient and reasonably capable enthusiasts. 
I am suggesting the following process for yours and Simon’s comment and discussion:
1. Proceed with mass digitalization of material before getting involved with the editing of individual pieces.
2. Do whatever tape to picture pairing can be done or identify a range of possibilities.
3. Provide reasonably detailed technical specifications for the finished product,
4. Send out pairs of rips to potential volunteers & let us do an “apprentice pieces” to see if further cooperation with this or that volunteer has potential.
Perhaps this will free you up to do the most challenging work and let the project progress in a more timely and economical way.
Thanks for your attention & I look forward to your reply. If you think it a go, we can arrange a telephone chat. Cheers, ***
From Hornsey I cycled south - knowing I can never get lost in London - ending up on the Holloway Road, then Camden Road where the rain returned more persistently and I had to shelter in a bus stop where I continued reading my Harris on Dreyfus, pondering the character of George Piquard, the author's interesting narrator,  as successive buses loaded and unloaded wet passengers until a let up... the rain allowed me to continue into Friday evening Camden Town where the one way system fooled me into nearly cycling north again towards Chalk Farm and no-one I asked knew the way south
Passing through Camden Town on Friday evening
I had a sweet supper with family just off the Edgware Road and later cycled fast - the conversation difficult to break off - to Euston to catch a fast train back to New Street.
*** ***
I had a bizarre exchange about a hair-split on the difference between a primary and a secondary source. A didact let fly on a letter copied me by Richard Pine that he''d received from Seamus Heaney. The dialogue on a Wiki Talk page, its owner insisting the letter be removed at once. I disagreed - suggesting the letter was in the public domain permitted by the Heaney estate, quoted by Pine's publisher. This editor replied:

You asked for my suggestions; I replied. If you don't want the facts don't ask for them. Obviously, you are way out of your depth. I find it sad that someone whom claims to have degrees resorts to a website to publish their thoughts. If you can't contribute according to our norms, take your ball and go home. Chris Troutman (talk) 23:44, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Chris, Such an intemperate and, frankly rude response is unacceptable. You owe Simon an apology. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to AndyAndy's edits 13:38, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Chris, you have a reputation for speaking bluntly, but I have not seen you behave rudely before. I ask you to consider your words to Simon and make proper overtures to him regarding them and your behaviour in this thread. Even when we have a strongly held opinion we may not express it rudely. Fiddle Faddle 13:56, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
@Pigsonthewing: @Timtrent: So you two have been called upon because my "rather didactic advice" offends someone? Here's some more didactic advice for everyone: WP:PRIMARY and WP:SPS describe this letter as a primary source of questionable verifiability. Without provenance, I think the letter is problematic at best. My degree is in history. The study of history teaches us that a letter written contemporaneously to the subject period is a primary source. Primary sources are not to be used in tertiary sources because they require secondary source analysis, which is meant for qualified individuals, not hobbyists.
On wiki all editors are hobbyists; no one here is an expert even if they really are. Wikipedia is not set up with "verified" accounts; therefore, editors cannot argue from a position of authority. I don't take the word of anyone online, anyway. On Wikipedia we argue the facts independent of users.
Sibadd came to my talk page and asked for my advice. I provided it. That user chose to then argue with me about same and complain when my response was brusque. I didn't nominate anything for deletion or threaten to interfere. I didn't even raise an issue on the article's talk page. I registered an opinion and I wasn't degrading, demeaning, or hostile when doing so (in my opinion). And yes, Timtrent, I will be just as vehement in person; I find such intimation otherwise to be insulting. Sibadd's argument about the letter holds no water with me and I don't understand why a user that's been registered since 2006 doesn't understand these policies, guidelines, and essays or my reaction to their argument. While I have been trying to attract academics to Wikipedia as a Campus Ambassador, I reinforce the clear understanding that Wikipedia is functionally different. I don't care if you hold the Lucasian chair, you're just another editor cobbling together secondary sources on wiki. I do find it sad when academics mistake Wikipedia as an alternative. Adrianne Wadewitz never did that; she contributed encyclopedic knowledge and adhered to our rules, as we all should.
I am disappointed that for the amount of time I take considering how to respond, toning-down my initial response, and assuming good faith that I'm still perceived as some kind of reckless bomb-thrower. So, if my response doesn't meet your needs, take it to a noticeboard. I'd be content with an IBAN from all interested parties.Chris Troutman (talk) 02:22, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
I had not expected a rationale for rudeness to be attempted. I have no issue with your opinion being held strongly, nor with that opinion being expressed assertively. I have an issue with your rudeness to the editor. You can be as blunt as you wish up to but not passing the point of rudeness. I don't care one fig for anyone's degrees. I don't care whether the letter is out or in. I don't care about the article, though I care about articles. I do care about the way people behave towards others. I very much doubt I will say more on the matter in a timely manner, I am travelling today and tomorrow. After that the matter will have cooled and not be helped by being re-raised, so I think any further response form me will be unwarranted. I simply express my surprise and distaste for your behaviour, and for your reinforcing it. It is not your message I quarrel with; it is one you are entitled to deliver. It is your mode of delivery. Fiddle Faddle 05:05, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
Good to find out about Adrianne Wadewitz, and I'm glad other Wikipedia editors responded, reminding me of Jimmy Wales' and Andrea Wekerle's 2009 article on 'keeping a civil cybertongue...
...we need to create an online culture in which every person can participate in an open and rational exchange of ideas and information without fear of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment or lies. 
*** *** ***
Ah! The troubles of the bourgeoisie in peaceful Britain, as fire rains on Palestine, we are in the absurd situation of having such a backlog at Birmingham Registry Office that Guy and Amy cannot register the birth of Hannah Rowan, our grand-daughter, within the legal time limit for registering a new birth. The first available appointment is 28th August - a date Guy found after finally finding an unengaged phone slot on Monday morning - constantly ringing and ringing for nearly 40 minutes - will not allow time to get Hannah her compulsory passport, an application for which a birth certificate is essential. So will Amy be able to stay with us in Greece in September or even October?  I've written - via Facebook - to our MP, Khalid Mahmood, who's replied swiftly asking for details and saying he's on the case.
These delays on papers, the trickiness of proving you exist in the matrix...reminds me of Richard Pine's response on reading the wikipedia editors' exchanges about the letter from Seamus Heaney (SH):
Simon - not clear who the authors are, but obviously Chris Trouthead is a nasty person.
The stuff about the letter is BOLLOX - it's tantamount to saying the latter is a forgery, or never existed in the first place. Especially since SH is no longer with us to verify it.... What pathetic small-minded hypocrisy. RP
Now that's interesting. Is Richard's incivility, in a private email, that I've made public in a blog, a tertiary, secondary or primary source?  Is it possible I faked the letter and this email?  Is Seamus Heaney a real person? (continued on p.94)
**** **** ****
Lin and I went round to inspect a garden in Stamford Road that seems a fair candidate for Handsworth Helping Hand's assistance. There's been flytipping into the end of the garden from premises on Putney Road. We need to see if we can stop that, as well as contacting the Housing Agency responsible for the garden next door - get that tidied at the same time if possible.

*** *** ***
I'm as entranced as anyone by some stories in which animals are made like people - The Wind in the Willows especially - but I'm vexed by endless smiles and animals that look nothing like animals.

When I was six, Jack, who'd just started living with us, gave me a Christmas present laced with a treasury of illustration - Richard Lydekker's Royal Natural History in 6 volumes, published in 1896.

Now and then I've immersed myself, and my children and now my grandson in this magical bestiary in which the animals don't speak human, don't smile cheerfully and are, irrefutably, denizens of a feral universe...

Oliver's hardly two and half, for goodness sake, but I wanted some imprinting of images to compete with patronised animals, animated cars and Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, for all my tender spot for railways and steam trains; indeed any trains.
Lightning McQueen

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