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23 Jun 2017

Two Sides of Town

Picture the scene, a pretty town where a river runs through it.  Much bevisited by Americans keen to note down their heritage whilst swans and fresh cygnets queue up to enter.  A park, a castle, a group of youth; a theatre, some pubs, an ugly dual carriageway.  A reality star popping in to try some baby yoga.

In one corner of the town, up on the hill, is an ugly pub.  Squat, flat, squeezed into the estate, with cheap doubles whenever you want and locals escaping the grime for an hour or two's oblivion.  Karaoke blasts out across the estate as the bladdered locals slash up against the wall.  Gerald Phipps (not his real name) scratches a tattoo as he greets the new arrivals from behind the bar.

Let's go back down to the centre of town, and steeply ascend a hill facing the other way.  Broad open fields greet us and a happy cow winks approvingly at the cut of our jib.  Surprisingly quickly open country hits, and then a very posh school - fields and yawning tennis courts roll out in front of us.  Cynthia Claydon (almost her real name) rolls down her starched white tennis pleats and adjusts her ponytail as her friend Charlie's Merc peels off into the distance.  She finished her sixth-form here a few years ago, and is back, purely for artistic licence, and doesn't have anything to actually do, except look great.

As you've guessed, Gerald and Cynthia are cousins.  Well not exactly, Gerald just got one of Cynthia's 4th cousins pregnant, and is the babyfather.  The point is Cynthia descends from Miss Sophy Smith of South Lopham, Norfolk; whilst Gerald's pregnant ex-missus descends from Arthur Smith of South Lopham, Norfolk. They are both siblings of Miss Ellen Smith of South Lopham, Norfolk, who is my Granny's fearsome granny, Granny Smith.

Sophy quickly married in the upward direction, selecting a young accountant who rapidly turned his family into drapers, and the daughter was soon engaged to an auctioneer, and the next generation were farmers in Sussex and before you know it, it's time for a posh school for the daughter.

Arthur decides to head down the social ladder,  starting having a lot of children before he is really ready, and the wedding bells ring midway through a pregnancy, and then he turns 21 as the next one arrives and then it's time to quit his job and act as a blackleg and remarry (not in that order) before finally at 50 he wraps it up and heads to Australia.  Leaving 3 generations in straightened circumstances.  His grandson kicks cans around the place in WW2 digging up scrap age 12 to help the family get by.  To be fair, the family did good, but they did end up on the other side of town in this case.  No question.

I'll stay in the middle.  I'm not climbing a hill to sing karaoke, and I have no idea what a tennis pleat is, or if it even exists.

Thank you Ellen for weaving a happy medium between Arthur's chaos and Sophy's money.  I'll take your side of town on this occasion.

22 Jun 2017

1940s Google Map

Introducing a Google Map to show where people lived at the time of their death in the 1930s and 40s - based on the probate index of England/Wales from this time period.  It does include addresses worldwide and is well worth a browse.

Questions, comments, via the homepage...

2 Jun 2017

Love is...

Love is... A Powerful Text Editor! When you have, as I do, 508 million wonderfully tender pieces of data, the laptop is going to cough and splutter a bit.

After a frustrating 24hrs where I couldn't get the data sorted at all, came salvation.

EditPadPro. This handy gadget was hastily downloaded at Swindon station before the WiFi conked out. It can insert carriage returns wherever you'd like in a long line of data. I wished this to occur every 30,000 characters in order to be re-imported into Excel cells, which have a maximum capacity.

Until I demo'd EditPad I'd not considered that my problem was essentially one of word wrapping. Word wrapping is fiendishly complex, similar to those bucket measuring or optimal grain storage problems from Egypt and Greece. Once you have too much text for a line, we automatically go on to the next line, making decisions about where the words should break. I needed the same approach for my string of values.

The data all lined itself up to be processed like innocent lambs through a sheep wash. It all trotted through and is back sitting pretty in my spreadsheet.

Very hairy moment successfully navigated. Will I finally get the wretched project up and running this weekend? We'll see.