Saturday, 25 October 2008

Poppies and Remembrance Day

I've noticed that poppies are on the counters in shops once again. I feel that it used to be they were only on sale/available the week before remembrance day but it is a few weeks ahead of that now. I can understand the desire to ensure as many donations as possible. It has been a long lasting British tradition that still maintains popularity and success. We continue to have British soldiers killed and damaged on behalf of our country who need or will need extra support through this charity. In recent years I've noticed alternative white poppies available. I haven't quite worked out their point. Is is about pacifism? Not supporting war? Wearing of red poppies doesn't signify a support of war but a support of people who need help. Perhaps a way of thanking those who fight on behalf of their country but remembrance is not really about thanks is it? It's about remembering. Remembering lives shattered, torn for example. where does the money go for white poppies?

The most famous peom that mentions Flander's red poppies was written by John McCrae, a Canadian. The first verse is

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row

That mark our lace; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing fly

scarce heard amongst the guns below.

It's interesting how strong and long lasting the words of the war poets are. It's a shame that we often come across them in school where being taught how to read poetry seems to ruin anyone's desire to read it ever again. Today reporting of war is all pictures, sanitised CNN. War, and the horrors of war are rarely communicated as powerfully as was done during the first world war. Have a read of some of them at this time of year and feel the power. Siegfried Sassoon is my particular favourite

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Moleskine Monthly Pocket Diary 2009

I always find it a bit depressing when I am writing in several meetings into next year's diary and it's only September/October time. The clocks haven't even gone back yet! So at this time I use a temporary measure before my A5 page a day diary arrives. As I'm always trying to minimise weight in my bag I don't want to carry two A5 diaries about for 3 months.

This year I've chosen the pocket Moleskine monthly planner. It actually has space for 2010 too so I'm hoping it will last for two years as my Autumn temporary diary, so that's a saving. Moleskines themselves are not inexpensive and I am still unconvinced with the quality of the paper. Some people seem to love it and rave about it but sometimes I wonder if it's just the name they fall for. Clairefontaine paper blows Moleskine out the water as does many Oxford notebooks. Still I've gone for it this year. It is small and lightweight which is what I want. I'm interested in any positive or negative opinions on Moleskine diaries.............

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Notebook Have a Look - C.Over

I've had this C.Over (see over) Cover for a while now but not really used it. It's one of those quite good ideas that probably wont ever be promoted enough and will die a death. The covers come in a range from gel to fabric to leather. Mine is fabric weave. Inside the cover are 3 elastic strands that fix separate notebooks into the cover. It means you can have a notebook for work, addresses, diary personal items, fitness, shopping. Whatever and interchange them so that your planner may be all work one day and all play the next or a mixture. It's a neat size (16cm x 9cm) thats about 3 3/4 x 61/2 inches for empiricals amongst you. As well as coming with a 2 section diary you get a plastic insert that has a smaller notebook, address book section and a mini pen.

I have ordered some refill notebooks and some spare elastics on the basis that I dont think they will be around very long. Greenwitch is an Italian company which has been around a while but getting these covers in the UK might be a different matter. The Journal Shop and Retro51 are the only places I've found and Retro51 say they will stop keeping them (Note January2009-Retro51 still have various C.Over items on their website).

Because of this I was having a wee play about with it and a Moleskine Cahier pocket will fit in the cover. Slightly wider than would be perfect but a decent alternative. Luckily they come in packs of three anyway, although I'm not greatly keen on the paper within. Probably plenty of other options for refilling the cover so I have another excuse (as if I needed one) to search through notebooks in shops once more. It may be a goner already this C.Over idea but I do think the cover can be used in a few different ways if you like doing a bit of hacking.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


It's been ages since I did a post and I do think it might always be this way. Haphazard. To fill my free time or rather to refill non free time with something different I am going to have a go at NaNoWriMo. This is an annual event every November where individuals are encouraged to write a 50000 word novel in a month. No mean feat! Of course the output is rarely going to be a novel you would get someone else to read I think but the aim is to just write. get the words down instead of staring at a blank page. All you win is the satisfaction of writing 50000 words but the challenge itself seems enough. There are forums to discuss plots and characters and even local meets (Edinburgh and Glasgow both have a region amazingly).

I hope to use time on the train between Glasgow and Edinburgh and maybe a bit at lunchtime (if I have time) to write as much as I can. Unlikely I'll have time in the evenings so it might be pretty much impossible to do (over 3 full A4 pages a day). Anyway I hope to just do what I often avoid and that's write something.
Why dont you do it too?