Friday, 30 March 2012

Captain Scott - March 30th 1912, Possibly The Day That He Died

According to Steve Parker in Scott's Last Expedition  
March 30th 1912 was probably the date that Scott, Wilson and Bowers died on their return from the South Pole, only eleven miles from salvation. However, as the last entry in his diary was on March 29th, that has been taken as the date that is considered to be correct. Therefore, a memorial service was held in St Paul's Cathedral yesterday, but it wasn't considered important enough to be on the six o'clock news.  Why was this?
The reason is probably that although Scott reached the Pole, he and his men perished on the way home. Much has been written about the mistakes that were made: unsuitable horses, experimental motor sledges, lack of food for the dogs and taking five men on the last push to the Pole, when there was only food and rations for four.
Nevertheless, I feel that Scott should be celebrated. No, they didn't return home, but the expedition was as risky as the Apollo missions over fifty years later: out of touch with civilization, like the astronauts, with no way of rescuing them. Today, there is a large scientific community at the South Pole with studies started by Scott and his expeditions, and  helicopters and snowmobiles to rescue any injured scientists or adventurers at the ready.
Today, I celebrated Scott, Oates and the rest of the polar expedition by visiting The Oates Collection at Gilbert White's House in Selborne, Hampshire, which tells the story of his tragic life and death. The highlights for me were the letters that he wrote to his mother, and the only book he took to read, a biography of Napoleon, his hero.
Also today, I finished Death On The Ice by Robert Ryan. This is a novel about Captain Scott, which also tells of the life of Captain Oates, and Tryggve Gran, the Norwegian skiing advisor in Scott's team. It was a great read, and I learned a lot about the expedition which helped me to understand the exhibition today. Some of the passages are as vivid as a Hollywood film, for example when they have to rescue the horses from the pack ice where they are being attacked by killer whales.
The search team erected a wooden cross in 1913 to Scott and his men, with an inscription from Tennyson's Ulysses:
'To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'
I think that Captain Scott and his polar expedition did that, don't you?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Wasted on the Way - Crosby, Stills and Nash

Here's Graham Nash and David Crosby at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, 2010.  Still great performers after all these years.
In the car yesterday, I heard their song, Wasted on the Way. (If you don't know it, it's here on YouTube.)
Listening to the lyrics, which they say are about the three of them regretting the time they wasted arguing with each other, I thought that there are lots of things in life that you can feel this way about.
I regret not taking writing more seriously when I was younger. I wonder what would have achieved if I'd chosen to study Creative Writing, but I had no idea that such a course existed. I wish that I had though, because I loved reading and writing, and if I wasn't doing one of them, I would be away in my world of imagination.
What would my life have been like if I'd started writing in my twenties? Perhaps I'd be a famous novelist by now with forty novels on the shelf, but I'll never know.
The song ends on an optimistic note as Crosby, Stills and Nash decide to make up the time that they've wasted, like I'm at last doing now with my writing.
Do you have any regrets because you wasted time on the way through your life instead of getting on and writing?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Captain Oates Night - March 16th 2012

Tonight is Captain Oates Night.
It is one hundred years since he took that self-sacrificing walk into the blizzard, telling Captain Scott on the return from the South Pole when they had been beaten by Amundsen and his Norwegian party, that he was just going outside and may be some time.
You may have read in my previous blog how much this affected me as a seven year old writing a diary in junior school to celebrate 50 years since Scott's expedition.
I have now been reading Death On The Ice by Robert Ryan. I thought at first that I was too late as Scott arrived at the pole on January 17th 1912, but of course, it took two months to get back to the point where Oates decided to leave the others because of his frostbite, and from then on Scott, Wilson and Bowers carried on for just two weeks more, dying on March 30th 1912.
It was such a sad end to an attempt to conquer one of the last remaining unmapped places on earth.
Oates body was never found, but a cairn of stones was erected with the inscription:
 'Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L. E. G. Oates, of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912, returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard, to try and save his comrades, beset by hardships.'

Friday, 9 March 2012

Good News! Article in Teignmouth Post A Success! Plus Liebster Blog Award!

I was just going to the shops yesterday when I had a phone call from Rhona at the  Quayside Bookshop in Teignmouth, wanting some more copies of Gipsy Moth. I'm really pleased that the article in the Teignmouth Post generated some sales! Wonderful! So I was able to parcel up some more copies and send them straight away. Jonathan Cainer in the Daily Mail said that I should look out for co-incidences and I suppose that it was a co-incidence that I was just going out and able to post the books at the same time.
Then today, the lovely Debs Carr awarded me the Liebster Blog Award. It's the second time that I've received it and I'm glad that you no longer have to find five others to award it to, but you do have to list five random facts about yourself, so here goes:

  1. My mother had a teacher who was related to Captain Scott who perished at the South Pole one hundred years ago.
  2. She left me outside the post office in my pram when I was six months old, queued up to post some parcels, came out out, and forgot I was hers!
  3. David Seaman smiled at me in the local supermarket the other week.
  4. I went to the loo at Ascot once and come out with my skirt tucked into my knickers! Thank goodness a friend spotted me before I got too far!
  5. I was made to stay in at break when I started school because some boys had taken my skipping rope. Perhaps I lashed out irrationally! 
I'm going to pass the award to Debbie White, the Bluestocking Mum, for her inspirational blog.

What are your random moments?

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Writing, Actually, Is All You Need!

Do you remember that I said for my New Year Resolution I would write at least 500 words a day so I could finish the novel I started in 2008?
Well - after two months, I've actually begun!
I must admit that I'd been nervous about beginning again, but I feel better now that by editing the first three chapters that I wrote four years ago (!), I'm now 4,500 words in. That's a good start.
To do this, I've read through and edited the character charts for each, well, character. It's enabled me to get to know them all again and think up some more scenarios for the story.
The novel is set in the First World War, and so I've read through a lot of the research that I did before, and will dip into it again as I need it.
Writing has actually helped me to see how things will develop. I already had a good idea of where I wanted the story to go, but I'm beginning to see new possibilities and a new character has introduced himself too!
I think that the longer that I put it off, the worse I felt, even though I have been promoting Gipsy Moth, and have managed to find lots of other distractions.
Have you picked up a novel and started again after a period of time?