Monday, July 19, 2010

Bringing the Heat and Bringing the Meat

As I sit here pecking away, I'm listening to the drumming beat of hammers on the house and roof. When we returned from Michigan, we were confronted by a leak at the top of the wall over the fireplace. There had been a great deal of rain while we were gone, and it's taken a while to figure all of this out.

The barrage of entries that I've posted lately have been while I've waited for people to return my phone calls, waited for people to show up to look at the situation, and finally around my first trip up onto a roof in many years. Although we live in a "ranch" style house, the ground looked very far away from up there, and I discovered that the only place hotter than the ground here in Florida on a sunny day is up on a roof. I'm glad I wore gloves up there because the roof was seriously HOT. I didn't have a thermometer with me, but it was likely nearly as hot as the surface of the sun. Or at least it felt like it…

As some workers pound in their last nails and fit the soffits and gutters back in place around the newly-sided chimney, I find myself still catching up!

Here's word from Barry McAleenan, weighing in on a number of recent posts. The first is regarding one involving misspellings on, and in the transcriptions of, census forms:

Apparently, the UK government decided to subcontract the transcription of one census to the Prison Service. It was only when 'prison officer' was found to be routinely transcribed as 'screw' that the checkers realised that the inmates were having 'a bit of a larf'. The routine use of 'do' (as an abbreviation for ditto) meaning 'as above', lead to a lot of grief when search results were sorted after transcribing. The enumerators would also have refined their abbreviations as the data was accumulated. The contract was diverted to Bombay for half the price and a quantum leap in accuracy.

From your latest blog:

PHONE NUMBERS It's possible that the phone books were reference office copies, which were annotated with changes for next year's edition; 22/6 and 27/7 were date references; R120 and Kx were correspondence references. Actually, Kx may just be a messy Tx, implying sent or transmitted in line with Rx for receiver and Tx for transmitter, which I have always assumed was 'jargonised texting' which evolved fairly rapidly for telegrams using Morse telegraphy from decades earlier. Abbreviations would have been commonplace and only needed to be read by colleagues.

You said:
'The person taking the message was told the flowers were from "Mrs. Barton, Agnes, and Violet Mills," but mistakenly heard "Misses Barbara, Agnes, and Violet Mills," and wrote the latter on the card.'
This is a challenging speculation.

Another guess may be:

The person taking the message was told the flowers were from "Mrs Barton and THE Misses Agnes and Violet Mills," but carelessly logged, "Misses Barbara, Misses Agnes, and Violet Mills," and whoever wrote the card decided that the message was nonsense. I'm sure Mrs Barton Mills would have known precisely what she expected to be written on the card.

Thanks, as always, Barry! Now that I look at those notations again, I'm sure it the note in the phone directiory reads "Tx."

In another useful e-mail, Barry weighs in on Lieutenant Terence Hadow, a former schoolboy who had been a friend of George Mills:

May I speculate that Lt Hadow was KIA during Orde Wingate's Chindit 'Operation Longcloth' into Burma in Feb-April 1943. This may explain why he was in the Infantry when he died. Wikipedia gives dates and casualties.

Reading the Wikipedia entries about the campiagn and its leader is somewhat disturbing. While it's written academically, one can easily imagine the absolute nightmare in the jungle that 'Operation Longcloth' apparently quickly became. A couple of sentences in the article above jump out.

First: "On many occasions, the Chindits could not take their wounded with them; some were left behind in villages. Wingate had in fact issued specific orders to leave behind all wounded, but these orders were not strictly followed."

A second frightening sentence: "Of the 3,000 men that had begun the operation, a third (818 men) had been killed, taken prisoner or died of disease, and of the 2,182 men who returned, about 600 were too debilitated from their wounds or disease to return to active service."

Those sentences don't even begin to encompass the lack of drinking water, the dearth of cleared paths, forcing men to
"clear their own with machetes and kukris (and on one occasion, a commandeered elephant)," and the constant ambushes by the Japanese that forced the beleaguered Chindits "into a progressively smaller 'box.'"

Reading about 'Operation Longcloth' and its commander, Brigadier Wingate, is quite unsettling, but one can't help but admire the heroism and steadfastness shown by the troops. Here's to them all!

And, as always, Barry Mc was 'bringing the meat' [Is that current colloquial compliment known in the U. K.?] to a table I'd only set with hors d'œuvre. Many thanks…

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