Evelyn Godfrey Worsley – From Schoolmaster to the Somme

PortraitInscribed on a gravestone in France are the words “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This”. The gravestone belongs to a forgotten hero of Hillingdon, whose story has been barely told in the 100 years after his death. Using the local archives collection of documents as well as genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com, I turned a name and an inscription into a man with a family, a life and a history. Here is his story.

Evelyn Godfrey Worsley was born in 1885 in Hillingdon; he was educated at Oxford before returning to replace his father as headmaster of Evelyn’s School in Colham Green. Two years into World War 1 in 1916 Evelyn signed up to his younger brother’s battalion – 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. After one month, on the 17th September 1916, Evelyn died from wounds sustained at the battle of the Somme.  He is buried in a Commonwealth Grave in Corbie Cemetery, France. Tragically, a month after Evelyn’s death, his brother, fighting in the same battalion, died at the Somme.

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Lest we forget.

By Lewis (Work Experience from Vyners School).

My Week as an Archivist with Hillingdon Libraries

Local StudiesWhen I started my work experience at Hillingdon Local Studies, Archives and Museum Service, I was not sure what to expect, but in one week I got to experience what being an archivist is – by reading a year’s worth of local papers from 1942, cataloguing a local photo from 1914 and beginning to catalogue documents of a local volunteer regiment from World War 1.

As a year 12 student I am currently studying the Tudors and America in the second half of the 20th century, so I am used to dealing with textbooks and the internet, but before this week I had not been to the source of all that information. I had heard of archives and just pictured a massive warehouse full of old pieces just like in the movies; but when I first went into the archives I found a room full of objects, papers, photographs and maps dating back hundreds of years.

I got to discover how hard it is to retrieve the information from these documents – for example I was tasked with transcribing a local blacksmith’s accounts from 1790. Sounds simple, right? Well wrong – it’s not that simple. After you find where to start reading you then have to try and decipher the code from back then – for example three different spellings for the word pickaxe and not one of them being spelled p-i-c-k-a-x-e. I had to use various websites and online tools to translate the old English into modern English, which complicates the process as a majority were ‘slang’ from back then, with no translation known to modern English.

One of the most interesting jobs I got was to investigate a local soldier who died at the Battle of the Somme. For this I got to use Ancestry.com to search his family and service history, to try and create a picture of his life before the war, as well as what and who he left behind to fight for his country. It has been a real insight into the week of an archivist which has taught me many skills that will help me when it comes to researching and finding information for future learning.

 

By Lewis (Work Experience from Vyners School)

Review of A woman on the edge of time by Jeremy Gavron

a woman on the edge of timeIt’s difficult to classify this book, it is part biography, part auto-biography, part investigative memoir and part mystery novel – no matter what category it falls under, it’s riveting and breathtaking.

Jeremy Gavron didn’t know his Mother, she committed suicide when he was four years old. Two years after Sylvia Plath, barely two blocks away, Hannah Gavron gassed herself at her friend’s flat, leaving behind a husband, two children, a yet to be published book and a bright future.

The family didn’t discuss Hannah after her death, Gavron’s Father attempted to remove any trace of Hannah’s existence, forcing him to search outside of the family for information about his Mother.  As Gavron finds and meets more and more people from Hannah’s life, he learns about her intelligence, her winning smile, her captivating presence and her ambition. However, mixed in with her better traits he learns about some of her more questionable relationships, her impetuosity and her selfishness.

In Hannah we discover, with Gavron, a person who you are curious to know, intimidated by and, knowing the end of the story, so confused about how she chose to meet her end.

Not only is this a moving and absorbing read about a family’s pain, it is a fascinating look at pre second wave feminism society for a woman who is ambitious, intelligent and progressive. Carving her way through a decidedly male profession, Hannah gains her PhD in Sociology and writes a book called A Captive Wife, based on her original thesis, denied by her doctorate supervisor and continually not taken seriously.

As I read Jeremy Gavron’s final pages, in this moving dedication to his Mother, I was sat in a cafe, tears streaming down my face, touched by his devotion and love, by his determination to hear her story and to share her life with the world. This book is a son’s ultimate catharsis for a mother he lost, loved and learned from, even after her death.

 

By Amanda

Something Inside (Doctor Who Audio Drama) Review

 

We are currently in a Doctor Who-less year. There is a Christmas special to look forward to but sadly no full series. Thankfully there are full cast Doctor Who audio plays to download and listen to through the online library resource OneClickdigital.  

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Paul McGann’s eighth Doctor is famous for his relative lack of screen time. He appeared in a TV movie in 1996 and then vanished from our screens until 2013 when he returned for the mini-episode The Night of the Doctor. But Paul McGann has continued to play The Doctor, appearing in plenty of stories for the radio drama production company Big Finish.  

Something Inside is one such story. While some of the Doctor Who audio plays have taken advantage of the format to tell stories that would be overly extravagant for television, Something Inside feels like a classic base under siege story. The Doctor and his companions find themselves trapped in a mysterious cube with a monster called the “brain worm.” They meet discriminated members of a society (psychics) who are also trapped. These prisoners were humans whose psychic abilities were amplified to fight a war. The process was irreversible. And now that the war has concluded these same super soldiers are considered dangerous criminals. While investigating the mysterious prison The Doctor suddenly finds himself separated from his friends and being tortured. Then there’s the inevitable running down dark corridors.  

This time, however, the Doctor is suffering from amnesia. Whatever torture he undergoes is to some extent, irrelevant. He can’t answer any questions because he simply doesn’t remember. This isn’t anything new in Doctor Who, the eighth Doctor’s first televised story starts with him suffering from amnesia, but it does allow for an investigation into the true essence of the long running hero. He doesn’t recognise his companion C’rizz but he knows he will say anything to stop anyone being tortured. He doesn’t remember all the times he’s saved the day but he’s still able to use his intelligence to outsmart his enemies, and he still has a strong moral code even if he doesn’t remember everything that helped him form it.  

Paul McGann is delightful in Something Inside. He makes the most of the interesting lines he’s given, whether that’s reminiscing about the 2005 Liverpool vs. AC Milan 2005 Champions League Final and how it stands as a testament to how you should never give up, or him goading an enemy with the phrase “come on then, if you think you’re hard enough” said in a way that only an 800-year-old alien could say it.  

Something Inside is neither the most adventurous nor comedic Doctor Who audio play Big Finish have ever produced. This a dark fast paced fast paced base under siege adventure, with trappings of classic Doctor Who and a few probing questions about the way soldiers are treated by society.

 

To download free eBooks and eAudiobooks from Oneclickdigital using your library card visit http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/30243/eBooks-and-eAudiobooks-from-OneClickdigital

 

By Mark Ulrich

An Interview with Linwood Barclay

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In a small preview of Linwood Barclay’s upcoming author talk on Monday 18th July we had an opportunity to ask the best-selling crime writer a few questions about his Promise Falls trilogy and writing crime fiction.

Linwood Barclay is the author of 17 books. Originally born in the United States Linwood grew up in Canada, graduating with an English Literature degree from Trent University. The internationally best selling author cut his teeth in journalism before entering the murky world of crime fiction.

 

Your ‘Promise Fall’s trilogy takes place in a fictional town in New York. Did you consider using a real town? Why New York?

When you are going to do the kinds of things I wanted to do to the poor folks of Promise Falls, I thought it made more sense to use a fictional locale. It gives you more freedom, I think to do whatever you want when it’s not a real place. As for upstate New York, it’s close enough to New York city if I need to pull that into the story, but far enough away to be its own little microcosm.

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One of the mysteries running throughout the Promise Falls trilogy is the prevalence of the number 23. What was the inspiration behind using a mysterious number as an overarching plot?

Whoever is doing all these nasty, mysterious things to the town, I wanted that person to have a signature. And that signature needed to have something to do with the plot, which the number 23 does, but you won’t find out what that it is until the final book in the trilogy, The Twenty-Three, coming this Autumn.

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Your latest novel, Far From True, features the Private Investigator Cal Weaver. When we first meet Cal, in A Tap on the Window, he is just two months removed from his son committing suicide. Do you think a tragic backstory is essential to a good detective?

It’s not essential.  Detective Barry Duckworth does not have a tragic back story, and i think he performs well in my stories. But Cal’s back story WAS the story of A Tap on the Window. It was what drove the entire novel. I suppose it’s more incidental that it is now a back story for him in the more recent novels. The tragic back story for a main character can also become something of a cliche. They ALL see to have them.

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Your novels often start with a striking opening (I’m thinking especially of A Tap on the Window). When does the first page (of the finished version) come into existence? Do they exist from the beginning or are they written some time later?

Although not every novel I have done has been the same for me in the creation of it, most times the opening of the first draft is still the opening in the final draft. I call that my hook, and it’s the hook that is often the first thing that comes to me when I  start a new book. With A Tap on the Window, I started thinking about the familiar storyline of picking up a hitchhiker. How could I make that different?

Is there a different preparation when writing a series as opposed to a stand alone novel? Did you have a series outline in your head to begin with and did it change at all?

With a series, you have a head start. You know all the characters and what they are like. You have your setting. So that helps. With a standalone you really are starting from scratch, so it’s a bit harder. But the flip side is, how do you keep a series fresh? With a standalone, you can do whatever you want with these characters. With a series, you may feel more constrained.

How do you go about pacing your thrillers? Are the peaks and twists structured in advance or do they come about intuitively when writing?

I think it’s more intuitive. I have no formula. I just have to keep myself from getting bored while writing it. As  I reach the end of a chapter I am thinking, what’s the most likely way for this to end? And is there a way I can make that NOT happen, and make something else happen.NEVER_SAW_UK

You’ve said in the past that one of the things that inspired you to be a writer was actually television, namely watching shows like Men from Uncle or Mission: Impossible. Do you still have a desire to write for television?

Not really, although in the last few months I have written a screenplay based on my novel Never Saw it Coming, which a Canadian producer/director is determined to make into a movie. It was a fun process.

I’ve read a discussion with you in which you were asked what aspects make a novel Canadian. In it you said that it’s the writer’s sensibilities that make a novel Canadian rather than a location. Do you think there are Canadian sensibilities to crime fiction? If so, what are they?

I like to say that the killers are more polite. When they stab you through the heart, they say, “sorry.” We’re a very apologetic nation.

You were born American but grew up in Canada, do you think that shapes your perception of the U.S. in your writing?

Probably. I’m very interested, for example, in US politics (especially this year) Given that I have lived in Canada since the age of 3, and have dual citizenship, I feel about 70 per cent Canadian. I think I am more aware of the stereotypes of both countries, and how overly simplistic they can be. As for the writing itself, I think other factors have had much more to do with how I write — 30 years in newspapers  being the biggest.

 

Linwood Barclay will be appearing at The Great Barn, Ruislip on Monday 18th July 7.30pm. Tickets cost £6 and include a copy of Broken Promise, the first book in the Promise Falls trilogy. For more information and to book tickets please visit http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/31019/An-evening-with-Linwood-Barclay

 

By Mark Ulrich

Literary Challenge #6 A Book You Can Read in a Day

 

Hillingdon Libraries staff sixth literary challenge of 2016 was to read a book that you can complete in a day. Now this may vary depending on your reading speed, time and energy but 10 of us completed this task with (relative) ease and are here to tell you all about our “shorter” stories.

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1. The Anniversary by Veronica Henry

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This is a collection of short stories by contemporary authors to celebrate 10 years of the ‘Quick Read’ publications. Quick Reads are short accessible novels, great for a lunchtime read and a way to get into new authors. There are some heartwarming and poignant stories here, written by popular authors including Jenny Colgan and Andy McNab. Stories from Elvis and Marilyn Impersonators to an old married couple reliving how they met. To top it all there are some recipes from the hairy dieters too! . I loved all the stories, all very different, but with a theme of anniversary to them all. If you’re finding it difficult to tackle a novel or just suffering from reader’s block quick reads are the way to go.

4 out of 5 stars

Marie Louise – Hayes End Library

 

2.Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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This is by far my favourite book! One of the first books I read as a child, I fell in love with the nonsensical world of Wonderland and all its beloved characters. I could read this book all day every day! Lewis Carroll, brilliant mathematician and astounding author. This 192 page full of magic and wonder as you follow Alice through the rabbit hole. I’m just happy that after Alice in Wonderland there’s also Alice’s Adventure through the looking glass and even the original story of Alice’s adventure underground. For anyone wanting to rekindle with their childhood and feel the wonders of Wonderland, this book is a quick fix!

5+ out of 5 stars

Alison – Library Relief

 

3. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

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Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this short novel. I was able to finish it in a couple of hours, the only downside was I didn’t want it to finish. I had never read a novel written in this style before, with no main character, but I found it beautifully written. The story was told as a collective experience of Japanese women who travelled to America in the early 1900’s to marry men they had never met before and start a new, supposedly better, life in the states.

Written in fairly short snappy sentences the author was really effective at telling the differing experiences of these women; their strength and determination. Starting with their boat journey and finishing with world war two. Although there were no detailed descriptions of the characters I felt I learnt a lot through reading this about these women’s lives. It was a part of history I had never been aware of before reading this book and I am now keen to read more about these women. I will definitely be reading Julie Otsuka’s other novel.

5 out of 5 stars

Siobhan – Uxbridge Library

 

4. Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti
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While many fairy tales have been softened over the centuries, Hansel and Gretel’s dark heart remains beating. It is a story of greed, despair and cannibalism. Coupled with the hauntingly dark illustrations of Lorenzo Mattotti, so dark and alien that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish character from background, this story revels in the dark heart of the story.

While Gaiman might be most known for his more fantastical tales, Hansel and Gretel feels remarkably grounded and realistic. The parent’s decision to leave Hansel and Gretel in the woods is made out of hunger and desperation, the old woman in the forest who tricks Hansel and Gretel is not a witch but a very human, very greedy old woman. This is a bleak tale of the desperation of humanity. But it also a story where even the smallest are able to overcome the darkness through wits and courage.

5 out of 5 stars

Mark – Uxbridge Library

 

5. Skellig by David Almond

1341147You’ll generally find this book in the Young Adult section, but like so many great books it’s hard to categorise. 10-year-old Michael is dealing with a lot – a very sick baby sister, distracted parents and a house move. In the garage at the new house, he finds amid the clutter a strange man who calls himself Skellig, who lives on brown ale and Chinese takeaways. Michael and his new friend Mina start to consider than Skellig is not merely a homeless man, and that there might be something magical about him. There’s also something magical about this book, with David Almond not over explaining so that even as the novel wraps up into an emotional, uplifting and satisfying conclusion, you can’t really say what happened and what didn’t, and whether Skellig is an angel, a birdman, a missing link… whatever he is, he’s an irascible and believable character and he does wonderful things. This is a book worth cherishing.

5 out of 5 stars

Darren – Uxbridge Library

 

6. The Double Clue by Agatha Christie

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The Double Clue is a selection of four Agatha Christie stories, featuring Hercule Poirot, but introduced by Sophie Hannah and John Curran. These quick reads are well put together and despite having read the full stories before, I thoroughly enjoyed these shorter versions. In this selection, Hercule Poirot, solves the mystery of a missing banker; travels to Egypt, finds a man shot in a locked room and solves the disappearance of missing rubies and emeralds. The book provides the perfect introduction to Hercule Poirot’s brilliance and skill.

 

5 out of 5 stars

Franka – Hayes End Library

 

7. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

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I’m not sure if I’ve violated the terms and conditions by not reading this in a day. However, it certainly could be, and it’s the perfect length for essentially the depiction of one crucial turning point in two lives. Flashbacks fill in the respective back-stories of the two virgins whose sexual ignorance and failures of communication lead to a disastrous wedding night. It is, surely deliberately, set in 1962, the last period in the UK when this situation would be at all likely. To discuss further would give too much away, but the author’s customary stylistic distancing here ensures the thought-provoking theme is handled with memorable restraint and authority.

4 out of 5 stars

Mike – Eastcote Library

 

8. Venus in Furs by Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch

cvr9781476705576_9781476705576_hrAt 150 pages only, this work from 1870 is a novella, & easily readable in a day; or even a ‘sitting’ of your choice of duration! The author, Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, unconsciously gave his name to later C19 psychologists to label the phenomenon of ‘masochism’; & this idea perhaps needs little elaboration by me here in the light of its early C21 vogueishness in this hedonistic paradise of ours!?!

The tale itself is a classic of framed narrative, romantic obsessiveness, which is by turns poignant, absurdly funny, lurid, yet always desperately true to a type of male, heterosexual libido. It is also a quite meta-literary text, in that it accesses quotations & concepts from multiple historical perspectives.In addition, however, there is a grounding of common sense wisdom which cuts through pretension, & which ironises any implicit seriousness which may be developing regarding ‘masochism’ as a viable way of life & interpersonal, amorous relationship. I will say no more, & leave you to discover the joys of this playful & unusual story. The author found out the hard way, i.e. by experience; the gentle reader can indulge vicariousness, perhaps!

5 out of 5 stars

Len – Harefield Library

 

9. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

51Be-zEhd7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Creepy. Twisty-turny. Ghosts. Weird kids. Unreliable, possibly insane narrator. Henry James, even in novella form you are a genius.

On the surface, this story is perfect to curl up by the fire with on a cold winter’s night. Which is exactly how the book is framed, as a story told in front of a fireside on a cold evening. It’s short, it reads quickly, and is open to pretty much whatever you want to make of it. James lets you decide what’s truth and what’s imaginary, what’s good and what’s evil. His governess main character doesn’t know herself, and we read first person from her mind. It’s a fascinating way to make the whole story about the way it is told, and illustrate the flaws of it at the same time (the first person narrative, that is) to put it in first person and make her crazy, which seems likely to me, but you make your own judgments about that. Very enjoyable read and perfect for an evening of creepy reading.

4 out of 5 stars

Lara – Virtual Library Assistant

 

10. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

wm_rc_wm_34782b9caf3342b7996058ae7128f83f93ff0942_1369082555Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is only 100 pages long but is one of those books that stays with you years after you have read it. I first came across the story in Francis Ford Coppola’s famous film adaptation, Apocalypse Now (1979), which follows a US army officer down the Mekong River in Vietnam in a bid to find and bring back the rogue American, Kurtz who has set up camp somewhere vaguely upstream. The film is a sort of dream journey in which the horrors and atrocities of the Vietnam War fade in and out of the landscape like phantoms.

The original book, published in 1902, tells the same story – only the infamous Kurtz is an ivory trader who has set up a mini empire in the depths of the Congo river. Marlowe is the man sent to retrieve him, and his voyage through the heartland of Africa brings him face to face with the effects of Belgian colonialism and the darkest recesses of the human psyche. Like the film, the whole novel is a surreal journey – from the opening pages on the River Thames at night, through the shadowy corridors of officialdom in Europe, to the various encounters Marlow makes on his long boat trip through the jungle. Heart of Darkness is not a novel with a beginning, middle and end. It is an exploration of a great river, moving at the river’s leisurely pace, but filled with a sense of impending threat that will keep you gripped to the end.

4 out of 5 stars

Paul – Uxbridge Library

 

Try any of these short stories today from a Hillingdon Library near you!

Thanks for reading.