Rubbing Shoulders with Authors and some Technological Challenges

DSCF2644.JPGTo commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (allegedly) and also World Book Day, I spent an afternoon in our local independent book shop, Walter Henry’s of Bideford, in the company of other local authors. Putting an author in a bookshop really does need some kind of government health warning, especially as they also sell rather lovely wooden toys. I just wanted to rush out and buy copies of everything all the other authors had written. You can see the one I did buy in the picture alongside some of my own but there are several more on my wanted list.  It was lovely to see our books on display. Thanks to fellow author Ruth Downie for the honourable mention in her blog about the afternoon. This week I have been in author mode, working on my forthcoming online ‘writing up your family history’ course for Pharos Tutors and putting the finishing touches to my booklet about how to inspire young people to get involved in family and local history. You would not believe how many historical novels there are for children and I could only include a selection.

I have also, possibly, been inspired by my fiction writing colleagues to branch into the world of novel writing. It was either write a book or do an MA in experimental archaeology. I decided the latter may have to wait as it a) costs money and b) might be too restricting a time commitment. So research has begun, watch this space but probably not for a very long time.

Then there have been some technological challenges. I was invited to make a short video for World Book Day and to mark the launch of Libraries Unlimited. This was a bit of a performance, not least because I was in seventeenth century clothing and wanted a background that lacked things like light switches. I was born in the wrong decade for video taking to be an everyday occurrence and I don’t have a mobile phone. That’s a lie, I have an ‘emergency phone’ that does just that, makes phone calls and inevitably is never about my person in an emergency. It is pay as you go and I think I have put £15 of credit on it since I moved 10 years ago. Anyway lacking a phone or tablet, I enlisted my partner in crime to take the video using my camera. The first take was quite good but we had turned the camera sideways and I had no idea how to turn the resulting video back the right way round (I later learned that this can be done). Not wanting to give my adoring public cricks in the neck we did take 2. Not quite a good as take 1 but take 2 it had to be as by then I was near the deadline and I still had to work out how to send it to the person who was collating them. That took two attempts too.

Then finally finding the frustration of my internet dropping out at vital moments (which it has been doing for the past few months) I telephoned my provider and spent half an hour allegedly ‘fixing’ this. This involved a great deal of turning the router on and off, watching for lights on the router and reporting back to the person on the other end of the phone. Imagine the scenario, no mobile phone remember so I am on the landline in bedroom one. ‘Please turn off your router’, I am asked. I leap off the bed run along the landing corridor, launch myself at the spare bed in bedroom three. Stand on my head to get under the bed (which is heavily populated by my book stock), turn off said router, rush back down the corridor to report that mission is accomplished. ‘Have the lights gone out?’. Back down the corridor, launch self at bed, stand on head, etc. etc. This scenario was repeated numerous time over the course of the next half hour. At the end, some improvement in internet consistency but it has been decided that I need a new ‘super fast’ (that will be a relative term) router so the whole procedure was a waste of time.

Who Do I Think I Am? and other genealocial bits

Like many other family historians I am in ‘recovering from ‘Who Do You Think You Are? Live’ mode. This year for the first time I was involved in set-up Wednesday. What magic to see an empty, cavernous space transformed with the fastest blue carpet laying team in the world. Can you believe that every show has its own carpet, which is thrown away afterwards? I did try to think of a use for many square metres of very thin blue carpet but failed. This year I spent a short time on the Pharos Tutors stand. I am really looking forward to tutoring my forthcoming courses, first Maps and Mapping and later in the year a Writing up Your Family History course. In preparation for this I am a Pharos student and I chose to participate in Chris Paton’s  Scottish Research Online course. That would work well if I had any Scottish ancestry. I have borrowed the ancestors of my children and grandchildren for this and it was great fun starting from scratch, in one case with a birth in the 1980s. On Saturday I was helping on the Methodist Heritage stand. Do check out their family of websites if you have Methodist ancestry (or even if you don’t).

13012661_10154167130690972_8930781838012254071_nThere was debate this year about the wisdom of charging for the talks on the day. Previously, you could pay in advance if you wanted to ensure a seat but spare seats were available at no charge on the day. A number of the speakers I spoke to (who are not paid to speak) were concerned about the impact on their audiences and many sessions did seem to have depleted numbers. Several said they would not offer to speak again but I suspect that when the call for papers comes out they will have forgotten their indignation. I was pleased to have a healthy turn out, despite being scheduled at the end of the day. My (or rather Mistress Agnes’) Life of the Tudor Housewife session was very well received. Thanks to Debbie Kennett for the photographic evidence. Master Christopher was also operating this year.

Along with others, I somehow felt that this year’s show lacked its usual buzz, maybe because I was worn out before I started, pictures taken on the weekend certainly make me look every year of my newly achieved decadal landmark age. Even my sessions on the ‘experts’ desk failed to lead to any eureka moments, with most of my enquiries resulting in ‘you’ve tried all the right things’ type comments – maybe this is because this year’s punters were better informed.

As always, the best part of the event was meeting friends and networking. Lovely to catch up with John Reid, his was one talk I might have paid to hear but annoyingly it was scheduled at the same time as mine, although I did catch most of his Richard III DNA talk, I don’t know what I did to deserve it but this year I had a coveted (well maybe) invitation to the FindmyPast reception – I did honest – I have the email to prove it. So off I went to the champagne reception on the Thursday. A slightly embarrassing moment when my name didn’t appear on the magic list – maybe my acceptance didn’t reach them. Fortunately I was recognised by Myko Clelland (it isn’t what you know) and I was in. Was it wise to consume champagne when I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I rarely drink? Probably not. I wasn’t much tempted to soak it up with the seriously strange ‘canapés’. Still, very pleased to have been invited and please can I come again next year? Announcements about forthcoming additions to FindmyPast suggested that there would soon be a significant Australian record set online.

CoverI was chuffed to find that Remember Then: women’s memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own had been made book of the month by the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies. I also acquired a copy of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, where it was the lead review and very complimentary it was too. I promise no money changed hands. I also delivered my first talk of the book to a small but very appreciate audience at one of my favourite nearby local history groups and nearly 50% of the audience bought copies.

As a legacy from last year’s car accident, I underwent what is know as a ‘procedure’ this week. I will spare you the gory details but it began something like this. ‘I am afraid your last blood test was 11 days too long ago, we need to take blood.’ The nurse then had to go off duty with a back spasm. Her parting shot to her colleague – ‘Can you take blood?’ ‘Err, well I haven’t done for years.’ I don’t think he was joking. Not exactly inspiring confidence!

Must just mention the fascinating outings to The Black Country Living Museum and Sarehole Mill which bridged the gap between the Guild of One Name Studies conference and Who Do You Think You Are? Live. Every family historian should visit living history museums. I am just compiling a short worldwide list for a forthcoming booklet – suggestions welcome. At my newly acquired great age no wonder I am shattered, although I did manage loose 4lb (to add to the 6 I’d already lost this month) over the course of the proceedings.

Badges, Pikachu and other Conference Musings

I am currently in what passes for a lull between the Guild of One-Name Studies’ Annual Conference and Who Do You Think You Are? Live, where I am being an ‘expert’, helping on stands and in the guise of Mistress Agnes, presenting. The best part of these events is of course meeting up with old friends, making new contacts and generally catching up on what is new in the genealogical world. All this comes hot on the heels of extended birthday celebrations, with 26 people staying and other day visitors. Wonderful of course and thank you everyone but hardly great preparation for a very hectic week.

First the Guild conference where somehow I ended up in an organising role, not sure how that happened! An initial problem was when the delegates’ badges mysteriously disappeared between the neighbouring county and my home, despite being posted, at huge expense, using guaranteed next day delivery. We set off for Birmingham minus the badges and our poor badge-making volunteer made a duplicate set and left home on an earlier train in order to get them to us on time. Once at the venue, it transpired that we were one of three conferences on site for the weekend. The Unitarian church were inconspicuous but it was immediately clear that we should be wearing furry ears or other outrageous garb in order to fit in with the UK Anime and Geek Culture Convention Kitacon Carnival (probably best not to ask) whose presence added a rather different dimension. Their event seemed to involve a great deal of posing for photographs and late night revelry. It is very hard to keep a straight face whilst speaking to Pikachou.

Having already replaced one of the speakers due to ill health, sadly another substitute was needed following a car accident. Trying to find alternatives for 25% of your conference speakers, especially when you have called in favours to create the programme in the first place, is not easy but wonderful people came forward and that was solved. So, grateful thanks to those who stepped in and best wishes to the incapacitated speakers. At 11pm on Friday night we ran the gauntlet of the audience escaping from an Adele concert and returned to the caravan. On returning to the venue at 7.30am the next day, we found that our registration desk, complete with conference packs and badges for our day delegates had disappeared into thin air. Frantic searching by the staff, including examining CCTV and raiding the bins failed to locate the material. In the end it took 24 hours to discover that the night staff had ‘helpfully’ donated our items to the Unitarians. You would have thought that the fact that the bags were emblazoned ‘Guild of One-Name Studies’ might have been sufficient clue as to which conference party the stuff belonged to but no.

The food was actually good but the first lunch, a buffet, was served without tables being made available. Buffet, in this instance, should not be translated as sausage rolls and sandwiches but a proper meal, with things like curry on offer. A tad tricky to consume whilst standing, especially for those with mobility problems. We solved this by moving to an adjoining room. In the end though, the two key conference elements, the presentations and the interaction with fellow delegates, scored highly, with several people saying it was one of the best programmes ever and there was a marked reluctance for people to leave the conference dinner table for over an hour after the meal had ended.

Hitting the Radio Waves and Dealing with Bureaucracy

The last few weeks have seen me wrangling with officialdom on a not infrequent basis. First there was that sinking feeling when I checked my bank account to find that I had allegedly purchased a very expensive bathroom from an outlet in Hull. Credit to the bank who had the money back in my account by the same afternoon but I did find it more than a little odd that I was asked if I was sure that I hadn’t forgotten about this purchase. Like I spend a fortune on a bathroom every day of the week. Whoever hacked my account must have lacked forethought as this was an online purchase and they presumably had to give their address for delivery!

I now have a lovely new-to-me car that is ridiculously smart and I hardly dare use it. In fact I nearly couldn’t use it as it proved almost impossible to tax and insure. Firstly, transferring my old insurance to the new car. The first person I spoke to claimed that she couldn’t identify the new car and requested more specification details than I could provide. Having ascertained that there were no more specification details, I tried again and this time got the holder of the insurance office brain cell. They could identify the car with no problem but then there was the usual hiatus because none of my occupations appear on their magic list. As I do several jobs I was asked how many hours I spent on each one – do I have any idea?! I am now down as an interpreter – my skill at languages is barely above zero. Hurrah though, there is nothing additional to pay for the remaining insurance period. Imagine my horror when the two days later I get a bill for £194 as the excess required for two months insurance – you must be joking was the polite version of my reaction. Another phone call to the insurance company. I should explain that each of these calls necessitates the caller in listening to how important their call is for a full fifteen minutes. “Our call lines are open 24/7” – no, they so aren’t. It, fortunately, transpired that the bill was a mistake but what a performance.

Then car tax. As a new owner I needed a vital part of the log book in order to tax the car online. This would be the vital part that the garage had inadvertently lost. The necessary twelve digit number was a mystery. Allegedly, it would cost £25 and take five weeks to replace the missing piece of paper. I am standing in the garage trying to collect a car that I am unable to tax and therefore, dear overseas readers, unable to drive legally. The garage receptionist sifts through the paperwork. She finds an eleven digit number. Using the mobile phone of a random fellow customer (my emergency phone is ten years old – it make phone calls – period) we go online and try the eleven digit number prefixed by a zero – eureka I have a taxed car. It still seems far too posh. It has a radio that changes colour as you drive along. Actually this is highly irritating and despite pushing, pulling and twisting every available knob and button, it does not seem to turn off but I am learning to ignore it as it blends from pink to yellow to blue.

We also had a car park incident – we really aren’t fit to be let out. We’d collected our ticket on entry to a multi-story car park and were queuing to pay on exit when the car two in front of us caused chaos by apparently losing their ticket. I’ll not lie, during the ten minute wait my driver was more than scathing. It is our turn to exit, we can‘t seem to see the slot for putting our money in. It turns out that we should have paid and validated our ticket at a machine two floors away before joining the queue. Guess who was dispatched at a run to accomplish this task. The fifteen people in the queue behind us barely hooted their horns.

My success at naming the Mutant Hero Ninja Turtles during my last outing to a local quiz went before me and I was asked to make up a team again. Did my alleged prowess at history stand me in good stead this time? No. My claim to fame on this occasion was to provide the name of a member of Take That!

Last week I had an invitation to be interviewed about my books on Radio Wolverhampton. Did I want to come into the studio, I was asked, or be interviewed on the telephone? No brainer that one. So tonight at 8.10pm I will be interviewed by Philip Solomon. His email told me that past interviewees include Noddy Holder, Chas & Dave, P J Proby, Alvin Stardust, Uri Geller, Neil Morrisey, Ken Dodd, Leo Sayer and errrr now me. I expect it will be a blink and you miss it occasion but if you are really short of things to do tonight you can it seems listen online if you have downloaded the appropriate thingy.

A Post for Peter

DSCF2572When Peter’s sister, Lucy, was born, I wrote about her direct maternal line. Four months later and her cousin Edward’s post was about grandparenthood. Now it is Peter’s turn. When I learned what his name was to be my immediate reaction was that it was a new name for our family but actually it isn’t. I can only comment on his maternal ancestry but there are six Peters amongst his known direct ancestors on this side of the family. What follows is their story; young Peter needs to be aware that he can’t choose his ancestors!

Three of the Peters are members of the Elford family, grandfather, father and son; baby Peter’s 12, 11 and 10 x great grandfathers. The eldest of these is one of our earliest known ancestors and very little is known about him. Peter Elford senior was baptised in Mary Tavy, Devon in 1584, the son of William and Joan Elford née Cudlipe. At this time, Queen Elizabeth I was still on the throne and Walter Raleigh found Roanoke Island in North America. Mary Tavy, four miles north of Tavistock, on the edge of Dartmoor, was in the nineteenth century home to the world’s largest copper mine. It is likely however that the Elfords were yeoman farmers. Peter senior married Jane Bowden in 1606, the year Guy Fawkes was executed and Macbeth and King Lear were first performed. They had eight children. One of their daughters, Joanna, is a strong candidate for the Joanna Elford who was indicted for witchcraft in 1671. The youngest child, Peter, was baptised in 1622. In 1641, two Peter Elfords signed the Protestation Return in Mary Tavy; probably Peter senior and his son. Peter senior died in 1650.

The second Peter Elford married Katheren Wills in 1646, just as the first phase of the English civil war was coming to an end. Peter served as parish constable and churchwarden for Mary Tavy. A lease dated 1669/70 shows that Peter was a yeoman of Peeke’s Tenement in Mary Tavy. Peter and Katheren had five children. Their son, the youngest Peter Elford, was baptised in 1647. He married Margery Spiller in 1676, just as Christopher Wren was putting the finishing touches to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. They too had five children.

A pair of Peter Geachs, father and son, are young Peter’s 10 and 9 x great grandfathers. Peter Geach senior married Frances Addams in St. Mellion, Cornwall in 1674. He leased a property called Forse Field, Viverdon Common in St. Mellion and was described as a husbandman. Only two children have been found for Peter and Frances. Peter Geach junior was baptised in 1675. He and his wife, Anne née White, moved from St. Mellion to nearby St. Dominick, where they had four children.

Norham village green


The most recent Peter is Peter Eadington, young Peter’s 6 x great grandfather. Edington and its rarer variant, Eadington, is a surname found predominantly in Northumberland. It is a locational name, taken from the hamlet of Edington (Ida’s town), which is three miles south west of Morpeth. Peter Eadington arrives in the family history as the father of Isabella E(a)dington who was baptised at St. Cuthbert’s, Norham, Northumberland on the 29th of June 1789 to Peter Eadington and Isabella Mather. Baptisms in the area do sometimes give mothers’ maiden names but the entry suggests that Peter and Isabella Mather were not married. This is borne out by the existence of a bastardy bond citing Peter Edington, a miller of Norham, as the father of Isabella Mather’s unborn illegitimate child. There are other baptisms in Norham for children of Peter E(a)dington around this time. He appears to have had four children by Alice, to whom it seems he was married and another illegitimate child by Mary Brown in 1794.

Norham is right on the Scottish border and it has been difficult to identify the site of the mill. Local folklore suggests that it was on the site of what is now Tower Cottages and the adjacent ‘vennel’, or alley, is known as The Mill Opening. A painting of 1907 depicts what might be a sail-less windmill. Ordnance survey maps however suggest that this structure was a dovecot. The deeds of 14 Castle Street, next to Tower Cottages, confirm that a miller lived there but there is no certainty that the mill was next door. The Tithe Map and schedule site a mill on the opposite side of the village green however there were no male Eadingtons in the parish at that date. This building is near a tributary of the River Tweed and would almost certainly have been a water mill. There was no building on the site of this mill by 1898. Even if the site of the mill could be identified, there is no proof that this was the mill worked by Peter Eadington. Call Books listing freeholders for the manor of Norham Town do not list Petter {sic} Eadington until 1795 and he sells his freehold to principal landowner Sir Francis Blake in 1805. The land tax for 1798 mentions a mill in the hamlet of Twizel in Norham so it may be that Peter worked here before moving in to the centre of the village.

So, just tiny fragments of Peter’s ancestry and rather a mixed bunch but all part of the rich tapestry that is our family’s history.

Book Upload Scandal, Mothers’ Day Gift Idea, Presentations, a Rather Soggy Encounter and other Historical Randomness

Those of you who know that my recent blogging silence has been due to the arrival of my latest and very precious grandchild (hello Peter Robert) might wonder why he doesn’t feature in the lengthy title of this post. He, like his sister and cousin, will rate a post all of his own but that needs to be carefully crafted and will be for a later date.

So, what else has been happening? Much of my time this week has been spent fighting (not literally but I wouldn’t rule it out and we have swords) a truly despicable person who has illegally uploaded one of my books, along with others from respected history book publishers, to a site where subscribers can download it for free and I assume, the uploader gets a payment for each download. To say I am furious would be an understatement of immense proportions. Needless to say, these sites do not make their contact details easy to find but find them I did and I did not mince my words. To be fair, the site did take down the initial link very quickly but it was still available via another link. A few days later the same set of 70 or so books appeared again, allegedly uploaded by someone different. I am heading for setting a record for the number of desist notices one can send in a short space of time. I just hope that it took whoever this thief is a VERY long time to scan every page.

Two warnings to take away from this. When you download a ‘free’ book, are you sure it is being made available legally? Here is a hint, if you can buy a new copy on Amazon (other booksellers are available) the answer is almost certainly No. It may be tempting to go for the free option but unless they are J K Rowling, authors make little enough out of their work as it is – think pence not pounds per copy. Books take many, many hours to write. A little like craft workers, very few of us achieve anything like the minimum wage for the time we put in. We are familiar with the scandals of illegal music and film downloads but spare a thought for beleaguered authors too. Secondly, if you are an author, I strongly suggest that you do an internet search for your titles, perhaps together with the word ‘free’, on a regular basis. I only discovered my book had been stolen because it is new and I was searching to see if it had been reviewed.

CoverSupport a struggling author – buy a book. What about a gift for Mothers’ Day (UK) in a couple of weeks time? Of course it would be great if it was one of my books, the latest is particularly appropriate (email me for details) but any book would be great. Having said email me, my emails have been very erratic lately, so please keep trying. Pretty much, if I haven’t replied within 48 hours I haven’t received your message.

I am now officially inducted as a tutor for Pharos Tutors and will be leading online genealogy related courses for them along with a great band of fellow tutors. Look out for my first course on Maps and Surveys, due to start in August. This is one I am picking up from a previous tutor but I will have courses of my own devising in the not too distant future. As part of my training I am taking an existing course and have chosen one on Scottish Ancestry by Chris Paton. This would work well if I had any Scottish ancestry but my ancestors never got further north than Northumberland. Fortunately, my children do have some Scottish forebears that I can ‘borrow’, as do my grandchildren, so I am all set. I will report on my progress in April.

I spent a great day at the recent Guild of One-Name Studies Twentieth Century Seminar, where I was one of the presenters. The proceedings included a convivial meal in a restaurant that was not going to win any awards for fast service. Given that said meal began after my bedtime, by the time the dessert arrived at gone 10pm I was ready to attack it with gusto. The only cutlery available was a fork. Ever tried eating a sundae with a fork? Another ten minutes and spoons were in evidence – like I am going to sit looking at a gently melting sundae for ten minutes.

The seminar itself was very interesting but due to one of the speakers being taken ill, we were ‘treated’ to an truly excruciating ‘video’ (whose pictures did not work) of a webinar on a similar subject. I tried very hard to be respectful. I failed. It did rate highly for its entertainment value though, or as an exercise on how not to present. The remaining presentations were excellent. Firstly was Nigel Lutt, a former archivist who gave a thought provoking presentation in a dryly humorous style, highlighting why twentieth century archives are not likely  to stand the test of time as well as those from earlier eras. The sheer volume of material results in weeding, modern inventions such as paper clips and sellotape do damage, data protection leads to deletion of records and the move to electronic records, such as school admissions’ registers, will leave us the poorer. Ian Waller spoke about adoption and divorce records and the day finished with Gill Blanchard encouraging us to write our family’s story. As ever the best part of the day was catching up with so many old friends and meeting new ones too.

Along with many people who have UK ancestry I was there on 16th, ready and waiting to take advantage of the 1939 Register being made available as part of my FindmyPast world subscription. Up until then I had managed to restrain myself and had not ventured past the indexes to the point where I had to part with hard earned cash. I am getting very mixed results and have submitted a host of transcription error reports, once I had discovered the not very obvious way that this could be done that is. The company is claiming an 85% transcription accuracy; are my relatives really so atypical (don’t answer that!)? The tally so far, for 13 searches:- 5 (38%) were problem free. 2 had christian name mis-transcriptions. 2 had the address transcribed incorrectly, 1 had both the address and the birth year wrong, 1 had the birth year, initial and address wrong, 1 had the occupation from the next entry incorrectly ascribed to my relative, although it was clearly on the next line and one person is not transcribed or indexed with his household (or any other) at all, although he is there when you search via his wife. I stress that these were all transcription errors, not errors with the original record. So sorry, great resource but still ‘could do better.’

And the soggy encounter you ask? I accidentally (obviously) got a pint of water rather too close to the nearly new laptop. A swift move and I upended the laptop so water could pour (well, drip steadily) from the keyboard. At first all seemed fine but then it quietly died without so much as a wimper. I tried not to panic and dried it by the woodburner for a while. I was then in danger of adding a degree of meltedness to the soggyness but managed to avoid this. Still no signs of meaningful life. I removed the battery and shook the drips off it – battery replaced and whoo hoo it turned on …… and then promptly turned itself off. A few attempts at this and I seemed (everything crossed please) to have achieved a partial recovery. Ongoing issues are a rather strange opening screen when I first turn on (that I can live with), randomly, the clock losing 45 minutes and having to be reset (solved) and then there is the problem with the second letter of the alphabet. Either it does not work at all (all the bs in this post have been achieved by cutting and pasting) or, on the rare occasions when it does work, you get rows and rows of bs. I am hoping this will right itself, although it is good for me to try to think of alternative ways of expressing myself, ones which do not involve words containing the errant letter (try it, it is surprisingly difficult).

Time Travelling

This week I was scheduled to give two talks on the same day. Not, fortunately, at the same time – sadly I have not quite yet perfected the art of being in two places at once. One was a virtual webinar for Ontario Genealogical Society, the other was a Mistress Agnes gig for a local women’s group. When the webinar was first booked I had worked out that it was due to begin at 3pm my time and began to prepare. Up came the little notice ‘this webinar has not yet started’. What passes for my brain began to whirr – Canada is behind us (in the nicest possible way) not ahead, a quick recalculation. I was due to start presenting at midnight! Midnight! In case you don’t know I just don’t do midnight, not ever, not even on New Year’s Eve; 10pm is a late night for me. Getting up at 5am, no problem at all but midnight! Had I not had the evening booking as Mistress Agnes I could have gone to sleep first but this was not going to be an option.

First then extolling the delights of seventeenth century living at a venue in a small village near me. I have to say the roads en route were realistically seventeenth century like but we made it there and back. Some of my incredulous friends had been made aware of my webinar time slot, ‘Are you really presenting at midnight?’ Well it looks like I am now. The one good thing about this sort of webinar is that it is audio only, so I only had to sound as if I was awake and it didn’t matter what I looked like. I was also competing against Rootstech sessions – the largest genealogical event in the world. Maybe I would be talking to myself anyway. It turned out that 174 people had applied for the 100 places participating in this webinar in real time and I think I manage to sound as if I was vaguely alert. The topic was ‘A to Z of less well known British sources’ and at the end my addled brain fielded diverse questions on such topics as Scottish cab drivers, non-conformists and Buckinghamshire quarter sessions records. It was fun in the end and I get to do it all again with another virtual webinar in December!