Books, Books, and More Books

Ever since I started this blog, I have noticed quite a few things. One of those is that lots of people blog about books. And I mean LOTS!

They review books, they blog about books they are reading, and they blog about books they have read before. They list their Goodreads selections, and how many books they have already read that year. Many mention their TBR (To be read) piles, often wondering if they can ever possibly get to the end of them. I soon realised that where books are concerned, I am a very small fish, in a crowded ocean of literary sea lions.

Well done to them all. I love that people are still reading. It doesn’t matter whether they are using an electronic device, or turning the pages of a huge hardback. It has to be better than watching TV all day, or playing video games.

Another thing I noticed was that many bloggers are also published authors. Some of them are contracted to big publishing houses, some self-published, and many more just starting out. They use their blogs to advertise and sell their books, and usually promote the books of other bloggers too. That’s great. People want to write. They want to see their name on a cover, and have something to show for all that imagination, and hard work. Well done to them too. Keep at it!

Many of my readers have kindly suggested that I should write a book. Perhaps a non-fiction account of my long service as an EMT, or a compilation of some of my most popular short stories. The extended fiction serials that I frequently post are usually long enough to qualify as a novella, so I could go down that route, possibly.

With all this in mind, I did some research.

Amazon currently lists 33,000,000 books, worldwide. And that’s just on one company’s website. I will write that number another way. 33 MILLION.

Many books now boast the words ‘Best Seller’ on their covers. I wonder how many copies have to be sold, before that claim is valid? I found out. To make one of the ‘Best-Seller’ lists in a prestigious journal such as The New York Times, a well-known or established author has to sell more than 5,000 copies. Even then, selling that number of copies doesn’t guarantee you will appear on the list at all. That is decided by an ‘Editorial Panel’. If you are a new author and it is your first book, that number has to reach 10,000 copies, before you will even be considered.

Amazon can rightly claim to dominate the market in book sales in 2019. Their version of what constitutes a best seller is very different. Established authors publishing on Amazon only have to sell in excess of 1,000 copies, before their latest book receives the ‘Best Seller’ accolade on the cover. Unknown authors have to sell more than 5,000 copies to get the same recognition.

So if you are planning to publish your book, don’t be too disappointed if it gets lost in the crowd. And don’t expect it to make the Best Seller lists.
Not yet, anyway.

Meanwhile, keep reading, and keep writing about reading. And if you want to, keep writing that book too. 🙂

19th Century Child Labour: Photos

Following the Industrial Revolution almost a century earlier, the use of child labour reached it’s peak in the Victorian Era. Children as young as four worked up to 80 hours a week, in all kinds of dangerous and difficult jobs.
The photos (except one) were taken between 1860 and 1890.

Cotton Mills employed children at just 10% of the adult wage. Families were so large at the time, that they needed the income from all the children, as soon as they were old enough to work.

Young boys were especially valued down coal mines. They were small enough to crawl through the narowest tunnels, those where the adults were too big to enter.
The smallest boys without the strength to pull a cart or wield a pick were employed sorting coal at the surface. They received around 20% of an adult wage, for the same work.

This happened all around the world, not just in Britain. And the jobs were not just in heavy industry.
This girl is employed as a child-minder for the toddler. This was in America, around 1880.

Selling newspapers or matches on the streets was a common job for young children.
As you can see, this boy has no shoes.

Children who had to depend on living in a workhouse were sent out to do a day’s labour to compensate for bed and board.

With every house still using coal fires, slim boys were prized as chimney sweeps. They could actually climb inside the chimneys, to ensure a thorough clean.
This reality was a long way from ‘Mary Poppins’.
(The photo is a recent one, to show what it would have been like)

victorian style chimney sweep, a child chimney sweep,
hulton pic
05/09/2003

Sometimes, families worked together at home.
This mother and her children are folding boxes, probably to contain matches.
They received a pittance for every 100 boxes completed.

Something to remember, the next time your kids complain about having to tidy their room.

Time For A Trim? : Long hair in Victorian Times

During the Victorian Era in Europe (1837-1901) it was very unusual for ladies to cut their hair. In fact, many women never had their hair cut at all during their lifetime.

Hairdressers as we know them today didn’t exist, and those wealthy enough would have a ladies’ maid to assist with arranging their coiffure.

Of course, they would never been seen out on the street looking like this, or even when entertaining at home. The hair would be piled up, suitably arranged, and then a hat would be put on top of it.

It was usual for the split ends to be trimmed occasionally, or even singed off with a flame, using a wax taper.

But this crowning glory of women of some substance was never cut during their lives, as a rule.

Some of the ladies were happy to pose for such photographs to show off their flowing locks, proud of that feminine asset.
As you can see from the photographer’s address on this photo, it was also common in America at the time.

And others would also dress up for the occasion, to symbolise a romantic heroine.

Of course, women who had to work in hard or dangerous jobs had to be more careful of getting their hair trapped, so they adopted shorter styles.

And it wasn’t unknown for some poor working class women to sell their long hair, which was used in wig-making.

So the next time you are having a ‘bad hair day’, remember this post. 🙂

Bad Taste? : Wedding Photos

Yesterday, I posted some old wedding photos taken during the 1920s. That prompted me to compare them with some of the awful wedding dresses popular around the world today.
As I had hoped, that post, and my opinion, generated some debate.

So out of interest, here is a short selection of some bad taste wedding outfits taken during the last few years. I know which brides I prefer.

To me, this just looks wrong.

Some of us may indeed like to see your huge boobs. (Yes, me included)
But not on your wedding day, please.

As above, but even bigger boobs!

‘Tacky’ is the word that springs to mind.
(The same bride from the top photo, but a better view of the dress)

Oh dear. What was she thinking?

Maybe I am just old-fashioned, (yes, I am ) but I would hate to be the groom standing next to a bride dressed like these.
And what will their descendants think, when they look back over the photos of the ‘Big Day’?

Or maybe they won’t care? Times change.

Roman Britain

Following my recent post about Roman London, here are some more sites to explore, in other parts of Britain.

Roman Baths. Bath, Avon.
The famous hot baths and use of the natural spring gave this attractive city its name. Extensively restored, they are now part of a visitor centre in this city in the west of England.
There is a charge for tickets and tours. https://www.romanbaths.co.uk/

Hadrians Wall, northern England.
Built as a defence against the warlike Scottish tribes, this famous wall extended over 73 miles, from east to west.
Most of it is free to explore, with charges for some exhibitions, and special events. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall/
It is significantly lower than when it was built of course, as most of the stones were reused when the Romans left.

Toilets provided for the soldiers.

A substantial fort just south of the wall, at Vindolanda.

St Albans, Hertfordshire.
This was formerly known as Verulanium, and was one of the largest Roman cities in Britain. Just 25 miles north of London, it is easy to get to, and full of interesting history.
Exploring Verulamium, the Roman city of St Albans (UK)
The open air theatre, which was said to have had perfect acoustics.

Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire.
A lovely example of the house of a rich Roman, now run by the National Trust. There is a charge for entry.
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth-roman-villa

Carleon Fort and baths, south Wales.
An example of how far west Roman occupation extended. There is a charge for entry.
https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/caerleon-roman-fortress-and-baths

Wroxeter Roman City, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
Another western site, known by the Romans as Viroconium Cornoviorum. This was the fourth largest city in Roman Britain, and has been extensively excavated. There is a charge for entry.
https://www.culture24.org.uk/wm000116

As you can see, the Romans left their mark all over Britain, and I recommend you try to see some of these amazing historical sites if you visit this country.

What Dogs Don’t Care About

Dogs don’t care…

If you haven’t mowed the lawn

If you haven’t had a bath

If they haven’t had a bath

If there’s a really good film on TV

If you haven’t changed the blanket on their bed

If you are wearing the same shirt you had on yesterday

If they smell bad

If you smell bad

If they have slobber all round their face

If you haven’t had your dinner yet

If your car doesn’t start

If the roof gutters need clearing

If you had that extra glass of wine

If you didn’t get round to vacuuming the carpet

If their fur falls out all over the house

If another dog sniffs their butt

If Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister

If Donald Trump is President of America

If Kim Jong-Un has a bad haircut

If you didn’t manage to go on holiday

If you have put on a lot of weight

If your clothes are so ‘last year’

They don’t actually care about much at all.
We could learn something from them

Green London: London Parks

Although London is a very crowded city, beset by traffic problems, and streets clogged with pedestrians, it has many parks that offer a break from the hustle and bustle.

The following parks are all completely free to enter and enjoy. They are also mostly surprisingly close to the main tourist attractions, though a few require an easy short journey outside the centre.

Green Park.
Just off Piccadilly, and close to The Ritz Hotel, this smaller London Park is a nice break from the nearby traffic.

St James’s Park.

Close to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Buckingham Palace, this lovely park is home to London’s famous Pelicans.

Parks St James's

Hyde Park.
This large park has its own river, The Serpentine, and offers many ways to relax close to the traffic-clogged thoroughfares of Park Lane, and Bayswater Road.

Kensington Gardens.
A little further west, and you can find the delightful park, close to Kensington Palace.

Regent’s Park.
A little further North, and also home to London Zoo, this lovely park has a boating lake, and rose gardens too.

Holland Park.
Not far from Kensington High Street, this beautiful London park has a Japanese garden, and a famous Orangery.

Greenwich Park.
Take a train, river-boat, or bus from the centre, to visit this wonderful park in south London.
There is also The Maritime Museum, The Cutty Sark, and The Royal Observatory. A full day out, in a lovely setting.

Crystal Palace Park.
Rarely seen by tourists, a short train or bus journey south will take you to this unusual park.
It is famous for its stone sculptures of dinosaurs.

Victoria Park.
Hackney in east London is not a typical tourist destination.
However, this inner-city district boasts a wonderful park.

Richmond Park.
Take a train west to Richmond, on the banks of the River Thames.
There you will discover this huge Royal Park, famous for its herds of deer.
It is hard to believe that you are still in London.
You can combine this with a trip to nearby Hampton Court Palace.