Of Talks and Technology

Today was the annual conference of the Isle of Wight Family History Society of which I have the honour to be a vice-president. I got the day off this time and could listen to others speak. I did have my turn at the front earlier in the week, addressing my local WI who were hosting their group meeting. I was regaling them with memories of 1946-1969 an activity that was not without attendant problems. It is very rare that I use notes for my talks but this one involves reading passages from Remember Then: women’s memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own, so I have the relevant passages ready typed in one hand. I have my remote control for moving on my slides in the other hand and in my other hand I have my X-factor style mic. The observant amongst you will have spotted the first problem here. The theme of the afternoon was the 1960s, complete with appropriate dress. Having found a 1990s outfit that paid homage to the 1960s, I then stupidly decided to wear hand-me-up high heeled boots that originated with Martha. My strange shaped feet rarely fit in to normal shaped footwear and this was no exception. Having successfully cut off all circulation to my toes I hobbled away from my audience smiling bravely.

Anyway, back to today. As always a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends. We managed to work out that some of us first met 29 years ago when they attended my family history classes. In fact still others go back 32 years to when I first joined Isle of Wight Family History Society, when I returned to live there after three years on the mainland. It was a very good day, with two interesting tales of families who left the island. These were great illustrations of how you can weave a story from your research findings. The day finished with Richard Smout’s excellent talk about early years and childhood on the Isle of Wight.

Today also a strange encounter with “an online worldwide e-commerce marketplace connecting millions of subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services in more than 28 countries.” Whilst attempting a purchase I am instructed to ‘Enter your house number here’. My address is numberless. I enter my house name. ‘Your house number must not exceed 7 characters’. That’s tough it has 13. Instead, I enter the house name in the street box, along with the village name that has to be substituted for the road name I also don’t have. I now have a 29 character street name. ‘Your street name must not exceed 19 characters’. Great. Given that I have to provide a postcode, I can risk leaving out the village name and just put the house name under street. ‘You must enter a house number.’ Lacking the seemingly essential house number I try putting a full stop in this box. Eureka! Whether the parcel will arrive is another matter. I know I have an unconventional address but I can’t be the only person whose house name exceeds 7 characters. I fire off a complaining Tweet to the appropriate e-commerce marketplace, which makes me feel better.

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