Steer for the deep waters only

Robert Day's thoughts on his photography, his writing and his business

Life lessons

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The talk about moving retirement ages here in the UK has concentrated on combatting the “work till you drop” fear that, given the attitude of too many employers, is fairly widespread here. This article from the Harvard Business Review gives a different perspective from (admittedly) the top end of corporate America.

https://hbr.org/cover-story/2018/11/when-no-one-retires

(One major difference between the UK and the USA is that age discrimination is unlawful in the UK, though actually proving it is a different matter. I know I’ve experienced it in my last two bouts of unemployment.)

I relate to some of the positive stuff in the article; I work with a predominantly millennial team myself. I find it really very exciting; I’ve learnt more about testing in the past two years than I ever did in the previous twenty! At the same time, I’m passing on my experience about the daft things users do, the sort of problems that systems have and the way businesses in the outside world operate; most of these experiences may be years old, but human reactions to systems are often timeless.

At the same time, I have to suggest that my employers may be in the minority in their positive attitudes. Also, I am looking at my future finances and thinking that I may well have to carry on doing some sort of work after retirement because the small pension I already have from the Civil Service is not going to cut it. After all, it’s all very well having a final salary pension, but that rather relies on your final salary being in any way adequate. In the rank-and-file Civil Service, it was anything but.

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Written by robertday154

November 13, 2018 at 3:17 pm

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The Dignity of Labour

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(Note: this post is not about any current issues affecting the UK Labour Party. Now read on.)

Yesterday, as is my wont, I walked down the road from the office to get a sandwich for lunch. I work on a modern business park, adjacent to Warwick University (which isn’t in Warwick, but on the Warwick side of Coventry. Seeing as there wasn’t a Coventry University when Warwick was set up, it does make you imagine some sort of marketing input to the naming process. But I digress). The business park was built some ten to fifteen years ago, with units in a variety of sizes to suit different tenants. Obviously, from time to time units come empty, awaiting new tenants; and one quite large office unit, No.1 The Oaks, came empty earlier this year.

Given the number of IT companies and other enterprises active in the digital economy, I fairly reasonably imagined that some other company would take the building on in due course. So I was surprised, when I walked down the road yesterday, to hear a crash from the Oaks site, and to see a rampaging excavator demolishing the building. Today, I’m working from home. I expect the site will have been levelled by the time I go in to the office tomorrrow. According to the Internet, the site is being cleared to make way for student accommodation. Obviously, this pays more than commercial properties these days. Interestingly, the picture I grabbed from the business park’s website is named “bottom_barclays”. Barclays Bank has a large office complex on the business park, but they have consolidated a number of their staff to another site in Northampton this year and made others redundant. As the building is well away from the main Barclays site, I can quite imagine how it might get the nickname “bottom office” (though “lower office” might have been a bit more genteel).

bottom_barclays

The Oaks (picture from http://www.westwoodbusinesspark.co.uk)

Now, that’s hardly a great piece of architecture. But I’ve touched on these sort of issues before, in my post The Sacred Workplace. People designed that building; people built it; and people worked in it. It probably wasn’t really there long enough to have gathered any sort of workplace community about itself; people in future are unlikely to be starting websites looking for former colleagues who worked at No.1 The Oaks. But it filled the working lives of a diverse group of people for a number of years, and that deserves some sort of recognition, otherwise we begin to get a sort of social amnesia about our pasts.

I was mulling these things over when I had an e-mail this lunchtime about an online petition. I normally don’t do these things, because there are so many of them and you can easily end up with campaign fatigue if you’re not careful. But this one struck home a little bit with me. Not too far from where I live, there used to be a place called Snibston Discovery Park. It included a numbher of exhibits about Leicestershire’s industrial past, and was based around the old Snibston Colliery. The UK coal industry has disappeared; yet it was the basis for our industrial development and played a massive part in our social and economic history. But after the 2008 economic crisis, Snibston Discovery Park became one of the early victims of austerity, as the local county council closed it down in some degree of haste, using the excuse of poor visitor numbers in recent years.

But mining communities have a great sense of identity, even when there’s no more mining going on: and so this petition has appeared:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-snibston-colliery?

Leicestershire seems very fond of rubbishing projects that might promote growth and inward income streams, whether they be attractions or improvements to transport or amenities. Things that cater to the educational needs of people, to their intellectual or artistic development, are left to the voluntary sector or only done where the accountants say they can turn in a clear balance sheet profit on that one location, rather than contributing to the overall wealth of the community. Their attitude often seems to be “We’re fed up of telling people there’s no demand for this sort of thing.” Attracting visitors to an attraction or a service is a matter of promoting it properly; and as austerity has dragged on, more and more people are finding a need to explore their own localities rather than going miles afield for their leisure. This trend is going to continue for some time to come, or so all the pointers suggest.

Celebrating our industrial heritage is an important part of maintaining the dignity of labour – something that modern capitalism seems determined to ignore, preferring us to be nothing more than simply units of consumption or production with no role other than the economic. But our lives are in no small part shaped by our work experiences; when you have self-respect because of your job, you are a better person because of it. Instead, many people attach no importance to their jobs and so have to find validation elsewhere. Sometimes, that’s not positive validation. The bottom strata of the so-called “gig economy” has provided many examples of this in recent years.

The fightback for dignity in work has to take place on a number of different fronts.

This is one of them.

Written by robertday154

September 18, 2018 at 4:28 pm

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The Computer says “You’re fired”.

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(Cross-posted from my IT testing blog, Probe probare.)

There’s been some little kerfuffle online over this story from the wonderful world of corporate HR systems:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44561838

And here’s the guy’s story in his own words:

https://idiallo.com/blog/when-a-machine-fired-me

Although it’s an example from the USA, it has relevance here in the UK even though employment law is rather different on this side of the water. (This post is written specifically from a UK perspective.) The problem was perhaps not so much the procedure itself (though I shall return to that later); it was the fact that various people tried to unwind that procedure but the system wouldn’t permit it. And there was no good reason for the original supervisor not to renew the contract (though it does suggest an area where the company’s HR policies were not aligned with business needs).

The OP makes the point that what eventually happened was that he was dismissed and then eventually re-hired after the termination process was completed. Nonetheless, that really shouldn’t have happened under those circumstances; it left the OP out of pocket and also involved him in reputational damage. The system design was based on 1) an assumption that any decision to terminate is automatically correct and unchallengeable, and 2) in any termination process, there are a series of steps to be taken that have to be taken without any option for challenge at the operational level – i.e. the security team were under a three-line whip from the system to escort the OP off the premises, even though they had had conversations with other managers and knew that there was an issue with the process that the management team were trying to reverse.

This, of course, is a real-life illustration of the Milgram experiment, where any instruction from an authority figure is complied with, no matter how unreasonable. It’s funny how often that seems to be borne out in experience.

Someone commented to me that perhaps there was an underlying issue with the OP’s attitude and the possibility of their posting rude blogs online. Personally, I think Ibrahim Diallo’s blog was completely fair and justified, and at no point does he name the company where this occurred (though some who commented accurately identified them based on their own experience). Interestingly, the risk of disparaging blogs doesn’t seem to have been considered in system design as there was no provision made to generate a non-disclosure agreement on contractor exit!

The use of the words “fired” and “job” reflect common usage rather than strict legal definitions, though it also has some bearing on the long-running debate on the status of workers in the gig economy going all the way back (for us in the UK) to the Inland Revenue’s original implementation of IR35. The thing is that there is little indication that the process would be any different for a contracted employee. The omission of a renewal action by a disgruntled supervisor would never be an admissible reason for dismissal – it certainly wouldn’t come under the heading of “some other substantial reason” for dismissal which is the catch-all reason in UK employment law which is automatically assumed to be fair. And if such a system caused such a “cascade dismissal” of a contracted employee, it might render the company liable for action, not only in an Employment Tribunal, but also in a civil court for consequential loss for putting in place a system which actually circumvented accepted procedures (although the ACAS code of practice on discipline leading to dismissal isn’t statutory, I doubt a court would take a favourable view of a system that ignored established custom and practice in such a well-established legal area).

From a system testing point of view, this entire incident illustrates areas where testers should have had greater involvement at the design stage, in challenging issues such as “is it possible to back out of the process once it has been initiated?” or “Does this actually comply with employment law?” (and hence the underlying question, “What’s the worst that can happen to us – the company – if this goes badly wrong?”). There certainly seems to have been a distinct lack of risk analysis when this system was being defined and designed; and any concerns raised by testers that may have been raised seem to have been ignored. And that’s a valid challenge to make, irrespective of variations of legal practice in different jurisdictions.

Written by robertday154

June 27, 2018 at 12:09 pm

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Loud and clear

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I’ve worn spectacles since the age of six; so regular visits to the opticians have been part of my life for many years. Over time, this has become a more and more expensive business as my optical prescription has become more and more extreme. Discount opticians – Specsavers, Vision Express and similar – can’t help me because they make their money out of the 80% of cases who present with fairly straightforward prescriptions. Just to be difficult, I’m in the 20%. To be fair, I did try a discount optician when they first appeared on the High Street. It turned out that my prescription required lenses that they had to order in specially, so their price and order turnaround promises didn’t apply. This is what you get for being different.

Of course, I could have spectacles through the National Health Service – but the range of frames is limited  and there would be no option over the type of lens I could have. I really need two different prescriptions, so I have varifocals – two lens types in one optic. I’ve never asked, but I suspect that varifocals aren’t available on the NHS, meaning that I’d have to have two pairs of spectacles and keep swapping them over for different situations. Also, given the extreme nature of my prescription, my lenses are pretty thick – so I have top-end “thin” branded lenses, which I also doubt are available through the NHS. Even with the hi-tech thin lenses, mine resemble the bottom of a beer bottle in thickness, so again I dread to think what the NHS equivalents are like.

Last year, the opthamologist said that I needed a new pair of spectacles because of a change in ‘prism’ – the way that my eyes work together to  deliver stereoscopic vision (or in my case, not). The technology of opthamology is improving all the time, and there have been new tests introduced for prism in the past couple of years which give a far more accurate evaluation of the patient’s needs. However, I have one “lazy” eye – it works fine, but contributes very little to my overall vision field. So my stereoscopic vision is pretty poor – one reason why I was never much good at ball games when I was in school – and the tests for prism are actually measuring something which I hardly find myself experiencing in everyday life. So I had a new pair of spectacles last year that I found made almost no difference to my everyday vision. I was not impressed.

And then, as if I don’t give my opticians enough trade, the last time I went in, I was offered a free hearing check. Now, I’ve fallen foul of this before. It’s administered in the normal shop, and if there’s a lot of external noise, or other customers in the shop, the result is going to be pretty poor. Added to that, I have tinnitus, so the quieter tones in the hearing test require me to concentrate very hard to pick them out from amongst the continuous “noise” that the tinnitus gives me. This concentration can easily be broken if there are distractions such as other customers and conversations. So I ended up seeing the audiometrist at the beginning of the year as well as having my annual vision test.

The vision test, I’m pleased to say, resulted in no significant change in my prescription, though I was told that I have the beginnings of a cataract in one eye (though that won’t become a problem, all being well, for a good five to ten years). The audiometry was something else. I first had a full audiometric examination two years ago, when I was told that I have the beginnings of age-related hearing loss at the upper end of the hearing register. This came as no surprise to me. In my varied past, I spent five years working for the Social Security Industrial Injuries Unit in Birmingham. The area I covered included parts of the Werst Midlands where there had been a lot of engineering works, and so a lot of industrial deafness cases. Part of my job involved commissioning consultant audiometrists’ reports, having those reports interpreted by the department’s Regional Medical Officers, and sometimes dealing with appeals against the decisions on those industrial deafness claims, including writing the Secretary of State’s submission to the appeal tribunal. So I know a reasonable amount about audiograms, and I could broadly interpret the results as easily as the audiometrist. I had no cause to doubt the diagnosis.

Last year, the initial in-shop screening told me nothing I didn’t already know, but was administered on a good day when I was able to give good responses to the test. But this year, it was not a good day. So I ended up seeing the audiometrist again; and this time, the verdict was a lot of hearing loss at the 4 kHz level, almost to the stage of being defined, she said, as “profound”. The audiogram correspondingly showed a dramatic plunge of the trace to bear this out. Almost immediately, she was saying “We really strongly recommend that you consider being fitted for a hearing aid – or even two, so we can balance out the effect properly.”

The hearing aids on offer start at £450 each, these being the type that fits behind the ear. Once you start looking at types that fit partially or fully in the ear canal, the prices go up accordingly until you are looking at £1250 or more per ear. Other suppliers can also supply hearing aids at a range of costs – I have even heard tghe figure of £3000 per device mentioned!

It was the audiometrist’s eagerness to set me down the road to more and more expenditure that made me hesitate. Even £450 isn’t money that I can put together at the drop of a hat; and I found her enthusiasm rather off-putting, especially as the loss is in the sort of range where I would only really be missing top-end harmonics. I hadn’t noticed that I was missing conversations, altthough I do find the television often difficult to hear (mainly because the speakers on flat screens are on the back of the set and face the wall), and I have missed the odd conversation in the office (mainly because I sit with my back to everyone else and the test manager does tend to sometimes speak from behind his desk screens without standing up). But I consider that I still have hearing that is perfectly good for everyday purposes. So I thought I’d get a second, less biased opinion, and so I went to see my doctor, who in turn referred me to the local hospital hearing centre.

I went a couple of weeks ago. It was quite illuminating. I was shownb into a proper consulkting room whoch was properly soundproofed and away from the main circulating areas of the hospital. the audiometrist explaiuned the test, and i let her, though I did have to warn her to expect some false positives becasue of the masking effdect of tinnitus. She t hen proceed to administer not only the normal audiometric tests, but also did something I’d not had done before, tests using a bone conduction headset – sound waves transmitted through the skeleton, especially the skull, play a surprising part in our hearing sense. The software the hospital had access to was able to integrate all the results including the bone conduction. They confirmed the diagnosis, as I expected them  to. But the audiogram I was shown was drawn up with a far shallower vertical axis, so the amount of loss at the top end didn’t look so dramatic. Also, the NHS audiometrist’s interpretation of how far up the graph the boundaries between “moderate” and “profound” hearing loss occur was rather different to the private one.

She then proceeded to offer me a behind-the-ear aid for each ear. Completely free of charge. And looking pretty well identical to the £450 base model that my opticians wanted me to shell out for.

My sister, who is older than I am, has also had hearing aids prescribed, though she doesn’t wear them all the time. She made the excellent point that if I bought a private hearing aid, I would have to buy all my batteries; whereas with the NHS aid, the batteries are also supplied free of charge. And if I used the aid full-time, the batteries would last about a week.

I’ve decided that I don’t want to have hearing aids just yet. I shall take advice from other friends I know who have them, and I shall take up any offer of further hearing screening tests to keep an eye on my ears. And if I do have an NHS aid fitted, I can always upgrade in future years if I find I’ve got more money than I know what to do with. (Ha!) In any case; I’ve paid tax into the system all my working life. Why should I go out and pay for something I’ve paid in for already?

They say that getting old is a full-time job, given the number of appointments and arrangements that have to be made for health reasons. Thinking of last year’s brush with prostate problems, I thought then that I was in the best place to have these problems assessed without having to worry about the bill – especially as if the results of all those invasive tests I had had not been so favourable, I would have been fast-tracked for treatment – again, no questions asked, no form-filling, no waiting for an insurance decision on whether the claim was allowable. My experience of the insurance industry over the past few years makes me relectant to have them involved in anything as important as my healthcare and treatment. This experience over my hearing, where I was able to directly compare public and private provision, has not changed my opinion.

Written by robertday154

June 14, 2018 at 10:51 pm

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Lord of the Files

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The political scene in the UK this week has been rather taken aback by the treatment of “Windrush children”, West Indians who came to the UK at the government’s request to help full post-war labour shortages but who are now at risk of deportation because after a change in the law in 2012, they are required to be able to produce documentary evidence of their right to reside in the UK or of their continuous residence in the UK since their arrival – evidence which was never pointed out to them that they would need, and which the government never provided them with in then first place.

The government has said that this is an unfortunate and unintended consequence of circumstances, that the “Windrush generation” made an invaluable contribution to the post-war regeneration of Britain and is of course fully entitled to reside in the UK, and that they will take the necessary steps to assist anyone in navigating their way through Home Office bureaucracy in establishing their right of residency.

I’m not going to get involved in this argument directly; I think the rights and wrongs of the case are too obvious to need pointing out by me. However, in the course of political argument, it emerged that the Home Office destroyed a large quantity of immigration landing cards from that era in 2010 as a general administrative clearout of obsolete files. At first, the government countered that these would not have proved right of residency (though they would have acted as the starting point for any potential paper trail of evidence); and then the Prime Minister, at PMQs, responded to criticism from Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, that the destruction was ordered in 2009 by the then Labour Government.

Things are getting badly obscured by the smoke of battle here. The fact was that the Labour government in 2009 set in motion the process by which government departments should start disposing of old and unneeded documents; they did not specify which documents were to be destroyed and which retained; instead, there was a process set out by the Cabinet Office (who have responsibility for these things) that Departments should follow in reviewing documents and files for disposal. It certainly seems to me that this was not being followed in the Home Office by October 2010 when the Windrush-era landing cards came up for consideration.

I took part in this exercise in the Government department I worked in at that time. The aim of the exercise was to economise on storage costs and to exploit digital scanning to keep as many documents as possible in electronic format. All files and/or documents that were considered for destruction had to be considered for scanning or retention if there was any anticipated need for them in future. And they had to be signed off by a manager individually.

I gather that the destruction of landing cards in the Home Office was opposed by caseworkers who understood their importance. My suspicion is that they were overruled, not by members of the political class, but by middle or senior managers of the sort who were parachuted into the civil service in quantity in the 1990s and 2000s from the private sector to introduce new, efficient ways of working and shake up those lazy, incompetent civil servants. Of course, these efficiencies take no account of legal requirements, precedent or best practice. Anything a “career” civil servant said to them was wrong, just because of who they were. These were the people who sent unencrypted data discs through the ordinary post because it was cheaper and quicker and it was an order they gave that had to be done right away and no argument or delay because dammit, I’m the boss. On the occasions when that went badly wrong and personal data was lost, the managers who had ordered those particular corners cut tried to blame the junior officer who had actually done the work, despite their having instructed that junior to bypass the standing instructions on encryption. That sort of manager considered such instructions to be “pointless bureaucracy”.

This all really goes back to the drive to take executive functions away from Government departments and put them in the hands of Executive Agencies in the Thatcher era. And that was done so that Ministers could continue to take the credit for good stuff that happens but weren’t responsible when things went wrong. Deputy heads could roll. It’s incompetence disguised as sound governance by people who have no idea how to run anything. (And Tony Blair’s New Labour fell for it too.) That’s Britain in 2018.

Written by robertday154

April 19, 2018 at 11:23 pm

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This IS about testing!

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Following on from my recent excursions into blogging about testing and sharing those blogs via the Ministry of Testing blog feed, I have now created a new blog for any testing blogs. The blog is named for my first post on the subject, Probe probare – to properly test, and it can be found by following the link.

Written by robertday154

April 19, 2018 at 12:59 pm

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My life in books

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It’s said that I started reading at an early age because I was impatient with my bedtime stories and wanted to know how they finished. Be that as it may, it seems that I had a reading age of 12 at the age of six and rapidly outstripped the school and local junior libraries.

When I got unrestricted access to the adult library, what I found there amazed me. In those seemingly distant, pre-Internet days, there in an unremarkable mill town in Derbyshire was a building which contained, more or less, something of the whole gamut of human knowledge and intellectual endeavour, open to all. Almost inevitably, I gravitated towards working in libraries – only partly because I fancied one of the library counter staff.

Of course, working in a library soon turned out to be far harder work than I ever imagined. As a Saturday assistant, I was in the library on their busiest day, reshelving returned books. Paper in bulk is heavy! After all, it is dead tree.

Meanwhile, what was I reading? School English lessons took care of the literature, in its limited way. For pleasure, I was reading science fiction and books relating to my hobbies. The science fiction started with my exposure to the television shows of my youth, Doctor Who and the early Gerry Anderson Supermarionation shows, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray. Then I graduated to comics, such as the Eagle with Dan Dare. The odd paperback came my way from the age of 11 or so; but it was when my father accidentally brought home Brian Aldiss’ Report on Probability A instead of a Mills & Boon romance for my mother because its pre-Raphaelite cover fooled him, and he gave it to me instead, that I became hooked. Report… is unlikely material for a new reader; it is a highly experimental, non-linear novel, and I have to admit that at the age of 13 or 14, I barely understood any of it! But I found its entire off-the-walledness very exciting, and I immediately started looking for more of the same. And found it, though it’s not often that I come across anything quite as radical as that first encounter with Brian Aldiss.

This fuelled my career choice, and so at the age of 18 I went to Newcastle upon Tyne to study Librarianship. The course covered classification, bibliographic tools and principles of management, plus an introduction to computing (or the state of the computing art as it stood in the late 1970s); and, to cater for those who wanted to become librarians in education, the first two years of a teacher training course and some grounding in sociological studies. Those of us who wanted to go into technical librarianship did a course on the history of technology; and we generally covered a range of topics on the fringes of all these subjects. Indeed, the first year of the core course “Organisation of Knowledge” was actually teaching us the philosophical underpinnings of knowledge itself.

Meanwhile, out of college I had discovered science fiction fandom – the North East was one of the centres of British SF fandom at the time. This in turn meant that I came into contact with other fans, with fanzines, and writing, and conventions; which meant that I also started meeting authors, editors, publishers and agents. Spending time drinking with authors influenced the sort of books I was reading, and increasingly the books I was buying. Partly this was down to wanting to keep my author friends in beer money; partly this was also down to libraries beginning to cut back on the variety of their stocks as Government spending cuts began to take hold. This also influenced my acquisition of non-fiction, as one of the early casualties of the cuts was the Inter-Library Lending Scheme, so specialist books now had to be sought out for purchase rather than borrowed.

Time moved on; I graduated, but could not find permanent librarianship work, libraries having been targeted for cuts in the first Thatcher government, and commercial or business libraries in the private sector became early casualties of the recession. (And just to rub that in, at about this time some irresponsible fool was thinking about concepts that led to the Internet…) I ended up in the Civil Service, initially in a fairly minor role, but following water privatisation in 1989, I transferred across to the regulator’s office and found myself working at a much higher level with a range of highly intelligent people, including our first Director General who was the ex-husband of a Booker Prize-winning novelist.

My interests were expanding; meanwhile, my fannish friends were writing about “mainstream” novels and I was beginning to rebuild my acquaintance with “proper” literature, left mainly fallow since school. (Indeed, my sister recently accused me of “only reading SF”, until I counted up the number of non-genre novels I possessed and found over 200!)

An additional task at work led to my becoming a trade union representative, a role I held for twenty years, and that meant that I was exposed to another area of fascination, left-wing politics and history – and a canon of literature not usually explored by many mainstream libraries and bookshops.

Then, in the middle 1990s, I “discovered” Europe, visiting Austria and Germany to chase vintage electric locomotives and the remaining pockets of working steam as Eastern Europe opened up. This meant that I started acquiring books in other languages; more recently, more German literature has begun to appear in translation (I find I can cope with written German on technical subjects, with pictures and diagrams to help provide visual cues and as a quick crib for some terms; but the more abstract a text gets, the harder I find it to read until I find fiction in German to be a tough proposition).

In 2009, I answered a speculative social media post from a specialist publisher looking for potential new titles with an idea for a book of photographs of classic railway infrastructure – station buildings, signal boxes and the like – which I had taken in the 1970s and early 1980s. This became The Lost Railway – the Midlands, published in 2012, which could have been the start of a series of anything up to eight titles but which ended up as a lone publication, partly because it was a bit unusual even for a railway book (having very few pictures of actual trains in it), partly because the publisher switched editor half-way through the publication process, and as this wasn’t one of “his” projects, he didn’t have the same enthusiasm for it as the guy who commissioned it; and partly because the publisher’s  technical team didn’t make a great job out of reproducing the photographs. I still have a number of ideas for books, but they are most probably projects for my retirement years, all being well.

0613_The Lost Railway-The Midlands_jkt vis

Keep an eye out; there are still copies out there if you know where to look…

I did have a little excursion into self-publishing, putting together a photo-book of the best pictures I took during 2011. I sold very few copies of this, as the pricing structure meant that it cost the same as a top-end coffee table book but the content was a bit too eclectic for most railway enthusiasts (looking at the Polish engine on the front cover, one potential punter dismissed it with “Huh. Not enough Great Western in it.” What can you do?). The trouble was that I never did enough really outstanding stuff in 2012 to get very far with the successor volume, though the title remains in my mind as a masthead for future projects…

The Soul of the Machine 2011

The Soul of the Machine 2011

In recent years, the growth of the second-hand book market has been a boon, first through the charity sector putting a random selection of books of all sorts onto High Streets up and down the country; and secondly, the growth of the “destination” second-hand shops becoming a major draw, up to events like the Hay Festival. And this is what has pushed my library size up to pass the magic mark of 6,000 volumes in the main collection by the first quarter of 2018. Looking back over what I’ve written, perhaps the main theme is that of leaving the mainstream, of following the path less travelled, because that’s where the discoveries can still be made.

Written by robertday154

April 11, 2018 at 2:53 pm

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