Ian Thomas and Allison Symes At Hampshire Writers’ Society

The evening’s proceedings began with the formalities of the Society’s Annual General Meeting to attend to. Due to the intense interest and anticipation brought about by the evening’s speakers, it came as a pleasant surprise when the AGM proved to a brief affair comprising mainly of the presentation of the Society’s financial position to date.

Treasurer of this past 7 years, Crispin Drummond, used the image of a steady ship to describe the financial position to date. Year on year the organisation operates at either a small profit (as in this year gone) or a small debt, no upheavals or dramatic fluctuations have occurred or are anticipated. The report was proposed as an accurate reflection of the Society’s current status by Peter Hitchen and this was seconded by Angela Chadwick. Gary Farnell made copies of the Annual Report available to interested parties whilst simultaneously asking if the were any questions, or if any clarifications were needed.  There were neither and the AGM concluded in a timely fashion.

Main Speaker, Ian Thomas

 

 

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Ian Thomas, partner and founder of Talespinners

 

Ian is a partner and founder of the games writing company, Talespinners and it quickly became apparent that if there was any aspect of writing for games of which he was unaware it probably wasn’t worth knowing. Such was the depth and detail of Ian’s presentation that he could easily have taken the whole of the evening and more besides to offer his insider’s view of the industry (worth an estimated £2.4b pounds to the UK’s economy alone).

The pace and detail of Ian’s presentation was such that it would take a far better reporter (and note -taker!) than I to do his slot justice. With that in mind, for those who want to get a more comprehensive insight into games writing and Ian’s professional creativity please visit the following links here and here.  However, needs must, so what follows really is a broad brush rendering of Ian’s presentation.

We began on generally familiar territory when Ian explained that narratives are just as crucial to success in computer games as they are in general fiction. It seemed that the audience was made up of what can be described as natives (those born and brought up with computers/games) and immigrants (those arriving in the tech-world after computers and gaming was already well established). That gaming is particularly popular amongst certain demographics may have accounted for the unusually large number of very welcome younger listeners in the audience.

A recurring theme in Ian’s presentation was the importance of the concept that games players must believe that they possess a locus of control over what they are doing.  Of course, given the nature of predetermination, that’s inbuilt into computer games, the possession of locus of control is always an illusion but an illusion that, in the most successful game’s platforms, remains undiscerned by the players. This illusion of control can be bolstered in several ways and one of the ways is to enhance the players’ perception that the game’s characters actually care for them.  The idea of ‘call-back’ helps in this regard.  When used intelligently a simple thing like a programme remembering a player’s breakfast choice and then much later in the game recalling that choice (‘would you like your favourite breakfast cereal – Frosties wasn’t it?’) can really convince a player that the game ‘understands’ their wants and needs and in so doing enhance the perception of the locus of control.

The level of collaboration needed for success within a games writing company and the level of outreach into the wider profession is really staggering. Writers, animators, actors CGI experts, voice actors, artists, coders, editors to mention just a few all come together in order to produce a game product. Luckily, for those starting out in games writing access to the ‘tools’ needed is very cheap (and nowadays often free) compared to even a short time ago. There are careers to be forged and fortunes to be made by people who have the willingness to learn and the talent to put that knowledge into original and creative use.

Special Guest, Allison Symes

 

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Allison Symes, flash fiction author.

 

Allison writes novels, short stories and scripts and describes her writing as ‘fairytales with bite’. Amongst her favourite authors are Austen, P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett and her work can be found online at Alfie Dog Fiction, Cafe Lit and Shortbread Short Stories.

Allison Symes is a flash fiction author par excellence and throughout her presentation offered valuable advice and insight honed from long personal experience about how to write successfully in this genre. Commonly flash fiction is a story that is told in 1k words or fewer. Allison has found herself writing drabbles (stories of 100 words exactly) and she explained that notwithstanding this level of brevity the story must still comprise a beginning a middle and an end and that flash fiction, in general, must be character-led and be short sharp and shocking.

The fast turnaround afforded to those who submit to flash fiction outlets allow writers to generate a portfolio of publications. This can be undertaken alongside that grand opus that seems to be taking forever to complete. Simultaneously the discipline needed to write flash fiction enhances a writer’s editorial skills and this then feeds into all aspects of a writer’s output. In short (!) write flash fiction to exercise your writing muscles, a little bit every day is better than a big splurge once a month.

Finally, on a more personal note, I’d like to finish by expressing my thanks to Barbara Large, Dr Gary Farnell, Hampshire Writers’ Society committee and its members at large for the opportunity to contribute these monthly reports which I hope have been informative and sometimes even a little entertaining. Alas, I must now put the top back on my reporter’s pen and stick my notebook back in its drawer but happy in the knowledge that my successor will do an even better job than I.

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October 2018 Competition Results: Adjudicated by Ian Thomas

The October competition was judged by this month’s speaker, Ian Thomas, who runs Talespinners, a story-for-games company.

The brief was: Write a 300 word pitch/story outline for a computer game.  

And the winners were:

First Place: Abyss Diver by Jordan Ezekude

Second Place: The Mortician’s Cruise by Alex Carter

Third Place: Draw Nine by Damon Wakes  

As there were slightly fewer entries this month, no ‘highly commended’ prizes were awarded.  

October winners
This month’s winners: Damon Wakes (left) with Ian Thomas, Jordan Ezekude and Alex Carter.
Photo by David Eadsforth

 

First Place: Abyss Diver by Jordan Ezekude  

 ‘This is a pitch which could easily exist as a current game.  It shows a good understanding of game mechanics, player choice, setting and advertising copy.’

Intense side-scrolling demon-slaying adventure awaits in Abyss Diver, a new roguelike dungeon-crawling platformer starring the angel of vengeance Kushiel! Scorned by Heaven, feared by Hell and stalked by Death, guide the relentless angel through the nine circles of the abyss and save the Earth or die trying! In Abyss Diver, you control Kushiel, a rebel from Heaven on a personal mission to free the Earth from the Seven Sins by diving into the abyss and slaying its infernal masters, from the lazy Belphegor to the boastful Lucifer. Whether he succeeds or fails depends entirely on how you play! When the world enters a dark age in which its people are overwhelmed by violence, selfishness, hatred, fear and despair, the Heavens begin to lose the faith which they earned over the centuries. Bound by divine law, the angels above are forbidden to directly intervene with the crumbling human world. Unwilling to sit back and watch as human society loses control and falls apart, the short-tempered but caring Kushiel runs away from the Kingdom of God and prepares to infiltrate the Nine Circles of Hell and destroy their evil influences on the world as we know it. Kushiel’s dive into the abyss will be faced with tremendous peril and hostility, crawling with hordes of blood-thirsty demons and wretched traps. Armed with only his blade, bow, arrows and wits, he will need every treasure and weapon he can get his hands on, each with their own unique traits. He will also encounter the souls of mortal prisoners, each with their own blessings and curses, which Kushiel may either redeem or punish. Remember this: who you redeem and who you punish will determine how the story ends.  Now brace yourself for a holy dive to remember in Abyss Diver!

 

Second Place: The Mortician’s Cruise by Alex Carter   

 An intriguing outline which makes you want to play the game to soak up the style and setting, as well as find out what happens next.  This wouldn’t be out of place as a pitch for a successful indie game.’

The year is 1933. You are the servant to a wealthy British family, travelling on an ocean liner to their new home in New York. Also on the liner is a mummy’s sarcophagus and specimens of dead animals, bound for the Museum of Natural History. But they won’t stay dead for long…

Lost on an errand, you stumble upon the ship’s morgue, home to three corpses. The Mortician is up to something, some kind of voodoo-inspired ritual. Of course, your employers don’t believe you, but soon strange things start happening. Those once dead are re-animated. Amid the chaos spread by the newly undead, you ally with a Professor who’d been travelling with the museum artefacts, before they came back to life. He thinks there’s a way out of this. When he’s set upon by the re-animated mummy from his own collection, the Professor reaches to hand you his folder of papers, but they get caught in the wind, scattering throughout the ship.

The crew are soon overpowered and the ship stops moving, so your best hope is to evade the undead: only fighting, with makeshift tools, when there’s no other way. There’s no escape by lifeboat: the waters surrounding the ship teem with undead sea creatures brought back by the Mortician’s curse. Exploring the ship, you discover a sleepwalker in the ballroom, accompanied by a Frankensteinian hoax mermaid that’s part-monkey, part-fish, and has returned to life. The sleepwalker is a sideshow Somnambulist and fortune-teller, who the undead won’t touch. Together you commandeer a cabin, where it’s safe to store things you find around the ship, although the undead still come knocking.

Each night, you dream of your childhood, a life of crime and poverty in Edwardian London. You’ve already survived that – can you survive this, too? It’s up to you, and the Somnambulist, to find the clues in the Professor’s scattered papers, discover keys to restricted areas of the ship, and put a stop to the vampiric Mortician’s voodoo enchantment.

 

Third Place: Draw Nine by Damon Wakes

‘This pitch explains in detail how the game is played and has a framework the player can easily grasp.  It would very much suit a mobile game.’

 Draw Nine sees the player take on the role of a student of magic facing their final test. Leaving the isolated tower that has so far been their home, they must set off on a journey with nothing but nine magic cards in three suits: the Steed, which is helpful; the Serpent, which is destructive; and the Spider, which may be either helpful or destructive (its effects are lesser, but random). The initial selection is random, but will always include at least one of each.

At regular intervals along the journey, the player is offered a choice of two places to go. Whichever they choose, they will encounter a situation which demands they use a card, destroying it in the process. The card chosen dictates whether the outcome of the event is good or bad: Steed cards can be used to help those in need, Serpent cards can be used to destroy enemies, and Spider cards offer an opportunity to hedge one’s bets when it’s unclear which is which. To do the greatest possible good (or evil), the player must try to choose locations suited to the cards they hold.

At the final location, with only one card remaining, the player comes to the end of their test: they are greeted by the previous student to leave the tower, who has been watching their progress through a crystal ball. This previous student has not used any of their cards, instead choosing to hoard them. After a brief conversation, during which the effects of the player’s decisions are appraised, the player is offered one final choice: to use their last remaining card on the previous student or to walk away.

 

HWS Society Chair, Barbara Large, launches new book

Having battled with the myeloma (cancer of the blood) for a year, Barbara was keen for her experience to benefit others. Barbara has written about the ups and downs of life with cancer and has collated these anecdotes together with recipes shared with her by neighbours and friends who sought to support her during this time, to form a book. What began as a germ of an idea at her kitchen table is now Scrumptious Recipes Shared with a Pampered Patient: Supporting a family member, friend or neighbour as they cope with illness

In this unique recipe book, Barbara Large shares an honest and witty account of the highs and lows after being diagnosed with Myeloma in October 2017. Inspired by meals which friends prepared to support Barbara as she battled with this illness, the book offers a guide to appetising lunches, suppers and tasty desserts that will delight a neighbour, friend or family member who is unable to shop or cook for themselves.

Discover how the simple act of sharing a meal can brighten someone’s day!

The book is a testament to friendship and community support as neighbours, students, friends, and colleagues rallied round Barbara when she became ill by providing meals daily and offering much-needed company.

Excerpt:
‘Barbara Large is not your ordinary senior citizen. Long recognised as an extraordinary superwoman, she also had the good luck to live in one of the most supportive villages in Hampshire. Phone calls and group emails asking for help flew around, resulting in a core contingent of 29 friends who were duly christened “Barbara’s Group”. The Rota was born.’
Published by North Oak Press, the book will be released on 15th October, 2018 and stocked at P&G Wells bookshop, 11 College Street, Winchester. SO23 9LZ but is available to pre-order now.  Please visit http://anne-wan.com/shop/ 
Selling for £6.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Nick Jonas cancer treatment ward at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester.
BarbaraLargerecipecover
Excerpt:
‘My name is Barbara and yes… I am a very pampered patient, loved, cherished, sustained and supported by a magnificent group of friends, neighbours, teaching colleagues and students who came together as a team, some meeting each other online for the first time as they offered help. I couldn’t believe it.
But it did occur to me that this magnificent generosity of spirit could be an encouragement to others if, on good days, I could gradually collate episodes from my experience, along with some helpful information and the scrumptious recipes that were shared with me.’

Tracey Corderoy and Barry Timms At Hampshire Writers’ Society

An evening spent with Hampshire Writers’ Society is often a serendipitous, informative and enjoyable affair, the curtain-raiser to the 2018/19 season was all three and more besides. From a request for ghostwriters (see below) to a mix of speakers engaged in an eclectic range of topics including a writer’s self-publishing journey and an in-depth explanation of what it takes to produce a child’s picture book from concept to completion, September’s meeting had it all.

If any member would like to be involved in a ghostwriting project and is specifically interested and able to render some forgotten but important aspects of British history (channel your inner Walter Scott) then please do get in touch with the Society via the usual routes.

Main Speakers: Tracey Corderoy and Barry Timms

Tracey-Corderoy-IMG_4249-e1436984118470Barry_pic

Children’s Author, Tracey Corderoy and the editor of Little Tiger Press, Barry Timms shared the platform to offer a detailed and highly informative account of what it takes to get a new children’s picture book on to the shelves in an ever increasingly difficult market.

To give some idea of the scale of Barry’s annual endeavours it’s not uncommon to see him working on 30 separate projects per year whilst simultaneously managing output and direction from multiple authors on behalf of Little Tiger. Given the extent of his involvement with the creative output of diverse writers, it is important for him to gauge author sensitivities and in so doing manage people as individuals in order to support them and help them produce work of the highest standards. With this last in mind, Tracey pointed out that their own author/editor relationship is founded on trust and mutual respect. With a production time of 18 months from a project’s acquirement to the finished book appearing on the shelves, managing relationships must be an important co-skill.

Over time, Tracey has developed a thick author’s skin and has come to see that many of the editorial decisions that might at first seem out of kilter end up being for the best both in terms of artistic quality and commercial success. On average, we were told, a picture book requires 7 re-writes with some requiring many more than that. Manuscript development goes through 3 main phases starting with a structural edit followed by a line edit and finally a copy edit/proofread. Unlike most books aimed at adults, children’s picture books have the all-important aspect of illustrations to consider. The illustrator has a pivotal role in blending the narrative and close cooperation between all the production team is indispensable as the book’s artwork develops. This is a process, Barry explained, that is undertaken in 4 phases with character creation, thumbnail production, working on the text/image interaction and then the final artwork.

Many will have struggled to produce a ‘blurb’ to support their own work let alone a synopsis but these are two elements that are just as important when trying to market children’s books to an interested publisher. The two main children’s Book Fairs are held in Bologna and Frankfurt and Little Toller’s commercial year revolves around these two events. Tracy and Barry finished off their presentation by agreeing that memorable characters often represented by animals involved in twisting plots or favourite themes are perhaps the best places for any would-be children’s author to start from.

Special Guest: Brenda Sedgwick

Copy of P1100086

Brenda has been a long-time member of Hampshire Writers’ Society and has taught within the adult education sector with a specific focus on creative writing for many years. Latterly, she has lived and worked in Sri Lanka where she pursues her twin passions of teaching and writing. With an already enviable publishing track record, she wanted to extend her output to include a ‘proper’ novel, a goal that she has now achieved with the appearance of her debut, A Marriage, A Journey and A Dog  http://bhsbooks.com 

It is a work that plots the story of Natalie, an ordinary woman of humble means, who undergoes transformative experiences when she undertakes a journey through Europe.  Brenda writes stories that she herself would want to read with narratives underscored by humour and believable characters (we all know a Natalie) that carry the reader along briskly. With a virtual clean sweep of 5star reviews, we should all look forward to Brenda’s future work.

All images © Lexica Films

 

September 2018 Competition Results: Tracey Corderoy and Barry Timms – Adjudicators

The September competition was judged by children’s author, Tracey Corderoy, in conjunction with Barry Timms from Little Tiger Press.

The brief for this month’s competition was: Write a 300 word story for under-fives featuring a dinosaur, a tea-cup and a football. 

And the winners were:

First Place: The Little Green Lump by Mary Prior

Second Place: Reggie Steggie’s Baby Sister by Lynn Clement

Third Place: Eggscapade by Summer Quigley 

Highly Commended: Dilys, Don’t be a Dodo! by Kristin Tridimas

Highly Commended: When I’m Big by Kim Howard 

September Competition
Third Place Winner, Summer Quigley (centre), with Highly Commended Winners Kristin Tridimas (left) and Kim Howard (right) – photo by Alex Carter, LexicaFilms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Place: The Little Green Lump by Mary Prior  

 ‘The rhymes were accessible and appropriate and the overall scansion was good.  The story had an evocative atmosphere and a strong visual sense.’

In the kitchen cupboard, tucked safely away

lives a teeny tiny dino who longs to play.

So he creeps out quietly late at night

from his bright yellow egg, so round and bright.

The house is silent, no-one around

He’s looking for a friend but none can be found.

So he climbs on the table, really, really high,

and gazes out the window at the starry sky.

When a shooting star comes whizzing, fizzling down.

Dino jumps then falls backwards, just like a clown,

right into a teacup that wobbles and rocks

before crashing off the table. The worst of shocks!

“Oh dear,” says a voice, which makes Dino jump

‘A cup’s fallen down and here’s a little green lump!’

Dino is cross and his bottom is sore.

He opens his mouth and he tries to roar.

All that happens is a funny little squeak.

“I’m a dinosaur not a lump and you’ve got a cheek!”

A hand picks him up with very great care

And places him gently on a kitchen chair.

‘Yes, you are quite right, you’re a baby T. Rex.

Goodness gracious me, whatever next!

My name is Sam, I’m a boy of nearly five

and I didn’t think T. Rexes were still alive?

“Of course I’m alive, ‘cos I’m talking to you

I haven’t been here long and I think I’m new.

I’ve got no dad and I’ve got no mum,

I’m feeling all alone and very, very glum.”

“Come and live with me,” said Sam with a smile.

I’m bored with my football, you can stay for a while.”

And they lived together and became best friends

And this is where my story ends.

Second Place: Reggie Steggie’s Baby Sister by Lynn Clement  

 ‘A strong theme where the main character goes on a satisfying emotional journey.’

Reggie Steggie’s mum was having a baby. The baby was inside an egg and Reggie couldn’t wait for it to hatch.

‘Can I look at the egg Mum,’ he’d say to his mother every morning before breakfast.

‘Yes, but be gentle,’ said his mum.

Reggie liked to put his nose against the egg and say, ’hello baby.’

‘She can’t hear you,’ said his dad one day.

Reggie stood up straight. ‘She?’ he said.

‘Yes Reggie, our new baby is a girl,’ said his dad.

Reggie stomped out of the bedroom and into the garden. He picked up his football and began kicking it hard against the fence.

‘Hey Reggie,’ said his neighbour Rosie Raptor,’ that’s loud.’

Reggie kicked the ball hard one more time, then stopped.

‘What’s the matter Reggie?’ she asked. ‘You look upset.’

‘My new baby is a girl!’ said Reggie pulling his tongue out.

‘So what’s wrong with that?’ asked Rosie.

‘Girls can’t play football!’ said Reggie.

‘Oh really?’ said Rosie climbing over the fence. ‘Want a game?’

Rosie went in goal and Reggie took penalty shots at her. Rosie saved every single one.

‘Humph,’ said Reggie with his hands on his hips. ‘My turn in goal.’

Rosie took five penalties against Reggie and scored them all.

‘Humph,’ said Reggie.

Reggie’s dad came into the garden. ‘Bye Rosie,’ he said as she climbed back over the fence.

Reggie’s dad put his arm around him. ‘Are you excited to meet your new sister?’ he asked.

‘Maybe,’ said Reggie, ‘as long as she doesn’t play football as good as Rosie does!’

Mr Steggie laughed, ‘well it’s time now,’ he said taking Reggie into the house.

‘I’ve just made your mum a cup of tea in her favourite tea-cup; would you like to help me with the tray?’

Reggie helped his dad take the tea-tray into the bedroom.

‘Skwark,’ said his baby sister.

‘Wow,’ said Reggie, ‘she’s cool.’

Third Place: Eggscapade by Summer Quigley

‘An action-packed plot with a fun premise and a heart-warming resolution.’ 

T-Rex Tereza and the family Bear Dog, Brian, sat, chins resting on the table-rock.  They stared at the egg and Tereza tapped her claws. “Eggsitting is boring. When will you hatch baby so we can play together?”

“I know, I’ll paint a beautiful pattern on your shell – the pattern of my most favourite thing in the world!” Soon the egg was covered in black and white hexagons. Tereza left it on the table to dry.

Daddy noticed the football egg on the table and threw it in the garden, “Tereza, keep your footballs outside!”

Tereza and Bear Dog chased the flying egg out the back door, “Daddy, that was our baby!”

Daddy and Mummy dashed after the football egg too, which now bounced down the hill in the back garden and rolled under the gate.

Tereza attempted a sliding tackle to stop it but – DOINK – it hit a tree root instead. A small crack appeared, but it bowled onwards.

Brian picked it up in his mouth, playing with it like his favourite ball. “Brian, don’t do that.  My little brother or sister is in there!”   Brian dropped the egg.

“OOOOF!” Tereza dived to the floor to save it but the egg slipped through her fingers, and lying on her tummy, she watched as it rushed through the grass and bumped into a rock.

CRACK! The egg broke into two, flipped in the air and landed like a saucer holding its tea cup. Tereza rushed to the egg, to see two big eyes blinking keenly, and two big hands reaching. “You’re OK,” she sighed, collapsing on the floor beside him.

“Mummy, Daddy, I’ve got a baby brother! I’ve nicknamed him T-Cup.”

Suddenly, an acorn fell from the tree. T-Cup, sprung from his shell and caught it in his oversized hands.

Tereza scooped him up in her arms, beaming at him with pride, “You’re going to be the best goalkeeping brother a striker sister could ever have!”

Highly Commended: Dilys, Don’t be a Dodo! by Kristin Tridimas

‘Written in good, child-appropriate language with an enjoyable and really humorous twist!’ 

Spread 1 (p.3 right side)

In a wild part of the woods where the whitebeams grow, Dilys the dinosaur lays an egg.

Spread 2 (p.4 &p.5)

Dilys loves her egg.  She buries it in the sand and sings it to sleep.  The egg is beautiful and big and blue.  “I’m going to call you Phyllis,” sings Dilys.

Spread 3 (p.6 left side)

The next day is Monday.  Dilys decides that Phyllis needs a brother.  So she kisses her and sets off to find one.

(p.7 right side)

“Look!  What a splendidly spotted egg.”  So Dilys picks up the egg and takes it home.

Spread 4 (p.8 & p.9)

Dilys loves her new egg.  She buries it in the sand and sings it to sleep.  “I’m going to call you Douglas,” sings Dilys.

Spread 5 (p.10 left side)

On Tuesday, Dilys decides Phyllis and Douglas need a sister.  So she kisses them both and sets off to find one.

(p.11 right side)

“Look!  What a delicate, dainty egg.”  So Dilys picks up the egg and takes it home.

Spread 6 (p.12 & p.13)

Dilys loves her new egg.  She buries it in the sand and sings it to sleep.  “I’m going to call you Betty,” sings Dilys.

Spread 7 (p. 14 left side)

On Wednesday, Wise Old Pterodactyl swoops down.  “What are you doing there, Dilys?” he asks.

(p.15 right side)

Dilys puffs up with pride.  She shows him her wonderful family of eggs.  Pterodactyl shakes his head and laughs.  “I’ll be back,” he says and soars up into the sky.

Spread 8 (p.16 &p.17)

On Thursday, Douglas is flat and empty.  Dilys feels flat and empty too.  “My splendid egg!” she wails.

Spread 9 (p.18 &p.19)

On Friday, Betty is squashed and broken.  Dilys feels squashed and broken too.  “My darling egg!” she wails.

Spread 10 (p.20 & p.21)

On Saturday, Dilys is very sad.  But then, the first egg begins to crack …   (one blurry claw visible)

and break …   (blurry clawed hand and nose)

POP!   (blurry, tiny dinosaur head)

Spread 11 (p.22 & p.23)

Suddenly, Wise Old Pterodactyl swoops down and drops something at her feet.

“Dilys, don’t be a dodo!  PUT YOUR GLASSES ON.”

Spread 12 (p.24 &25)  No text.

Picture instructions:  until now, everything has been like an impressionist painting, with the eggs extra blurry – their colours and shapes are visible but that is all.  Now the picture is extra clear, more like a photograph, with in the centre a broken, shiny blue egg with a tiny dinosaur poking out the top.  The two other eggs are revealed as a football (now deflated) and an upside down teacup missing its handle (now broken into several large but recognisable pieces).

Page 26 (overleaf left hand side only)

Picture of Dilys wearing her glasses, smiling, her baby dinosaur in her arms.

Highly Commended: When I’m Big by Kim Howard  

‘A nice steady rhythm with a memorable voice.  Good sense of observation with a lovely ending.’ 

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever have porridge for breakfast.

I’ll have an egg and dippy soldiers.  But not a little egg – I want a big egg, a huge egg, a dinosaur egg.

It will be too big to have in an egg cup, or a tea-cup, or any sort of cup.  I’ll rest it in a mixing bowl and eat up every bit.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever stay home with Gran.

I’ll spend all day at the zoo.  But not just wandering round – I want to play with all the animals.

I’ll go climbing with the monkeys, swimming with the penguins and running with the zebra.  We’ll play until we’re tired and then stare at the people watching us.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever spend a day at the shops.

I’ll go to a field.  But not just any field – I want to go to a proper football field.

I’ll kick from the spot and run down the wing.  I’ll pass and I’ll tackle and block.  I’ll strike the football a perfect kick and score from the penalty spot.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever let Mum cut my hair.

I’ll let my hair grow.  But not just a little bit – I want it past my shoulders and down to the floor.

I’ll make a long plait when it gets in the way or tie it in a heap on top.  I’ll use it as a skipping rope, a whip or a lasso.  I’ll undo it when I’m tired and it’ll make the snuggliest blanket.

When I’m big and can choose what I like, I won’t ever stop hugging my Mum.

Her hugs are better than eggs the size of footballs or monkeys with long hair.

Her hugs are the best thing in the world and show how much she cares.

 

The Men from Hyde – Herbert Frederick Collins

Herbert Frederick Collins was born in Winkfield (a village between Bracknell and Windsor in Berkshire), at the end of 1897, the son of Edwin James Collins and his wife Sarah.  His father Edwin was born in Newmarket, Cambs, and worked as a domestic gardener throughout East Anglia. The family were living in Winchester by 1907, since their youngest son Ernest died that year in Winchester aged 6.

In the 1911 census, the family is living at The Nursery, Park Road, Winchester where Edwin is now a nurseryman, employing others to run the nursery, including his son Bernard William, aged 18.

In November 1914, at the age of 17, Herbert enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment as a Trooper, with the army number 33443.  He served with the Pioneers, the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment.  The 11th Battalion was formed in Winchester in September 1914, and their main function was the repair of trenches, maintenance of roadways and tracks, bringing up coils of barbed wire and picket posts.  When the need arose, they would convert to full fighting troops.

The Battalion moved to Ireland and Aldershot to train, before being mobilised for war on 18th December 1915.  They landed at Le Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.

By mid-February 1918, the Germans had moved many divisions from the now collapsed Eastern front to the West.  The Allies had been expecting an attack in March, and it came as a massive onslaught of the Kaiserschlacht (Emperor’s Battle), a series of assaults on the Allied lines that was supposed to bring the Germans victory in the West after the defeat of Russia in the East in 1917.  Thus began the First Battles of the Somme which took place from 21st March – 5th April 1918. The first phase was the Battle of St Quentin (21st -23rd March) and Herbert was Killed in Action on 22nd March 1918.  He was 20 years old.

The Battle diary of the 11th Battalion begins the entry for 21st March 1918 with “German barrage put down on the Front Line and back area very heavily shelled –  gas and High Explosive shells”.  The Battalion had to retreat though “stampede was avoided and transport removed without casualties”.  On the

morning of 22nd March, “Enemy commenced his attack at 10:30am in a heavy mist … The right flank of the ST EMILIE position being now completely turned, the withdrawal continued to VILLERS FAUCON, Battalion suffering several casualties during the withdrawal.  Successive positions were taken up on the railway embankment and on the high ground.”

Herbert was buried at Pozieres Cemetery which is some way to the west of the site of the action on 22nd March.  Some idea of the scale of the fighting on the Western Front at this stage of the war is given by the sheer number of burials in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Pozieres: the total number of Commonwealth troops buried here is 14,708 – and this is just one cemetery. By May 1918, the Battalion had lost so many men that it had been reduced to becoming a training cadre.

Herbert’s older brother, Bernard William, enlisted in the army much earlier, in 1912, aged 18 or 19, as a Private in the Hampshire Regiment.  He served in India, Mesopotamia (Iraq), and Persia.  He survived the war and married May Louisa Munt in 1922 in Winchester.

The Men from Hyde – Thomas Bernard Loader

Thomas Bernard Loader was born in 1887 in the Winchester registration district.

His parents, Edward Loader and Emily (nee Roberts), had married in Shoreditch at the end of 1873 when Emily was only 21.  In the 1881 census they can be found at 9, Clement Street. Edward is aged 33, a grocer’s porter, born in Colden Common; Emily is 29.  They have 4 children: Kate (9), Edward (6), Mary (3), and Teresa (1). Emily and her children were all born in Winchester.

In the 1891 census, the family is living at 17, Hyde Close.  Edward, 44, is a porter. There are now four more children: Albert (8), James (7), Thomas (4) and Margaret (2).

In the 1901 census, the family is living at 16, Hyde Close (is the address of 17, Hyde Close in 1891 a mistake? Or did they move next door?).  Edward is still a grocer’s porter and two of his sons have followed him in the trade: James, 16, is a draper’s porter, and Thomas, 14, a grocer’s porter.  The older five siblings have left home (Albert had enlisted in the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday).  Since the last census, two more daughters have been born: Emily (8), and Florence (6).

In the 1911 census, Edward, 63, is now a porter for a wine and spirit merchant. Emily states that she has been married for 39 years and has had 11 children, two of which have died.  Only Florence, aged 16, is now living with them at 16, Hyde Close.

Where was Thomas?  He was by then aged 23 and working as a stable lad for racing horses in Chilcomb (just outside Winchester).

Thomas’ father Edward died in 1914, aged 69.

Thomas’ brother Albert was lost at sea when his ship Alcantara sank in February 1916.  The following month Thomas enlisted in the 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment and was given the regimental number 22302, but later attached to the 14th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment in the Machine Gun Corps.  The Winchester War Register states that he was wounded three times: in August 1916, and in July and December 1917 in Flanders.  He did not recover from his wounds and died on 2nd February 1918, aged 31, almost exactly two years after his brother Albert was lost at sea.

Thomas is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.  During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek (20 miles south-west of Dunkirk) was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields.  Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations.  The cemetery contains 9,901 First World War Commonwealth burials.

Albert’s widowed mother Emily died in the September quarter of 1918 aged 66, only months after Thomas’ death.

It is not known if Edward and James, brothers of Thomas and Albert, served in WW1.

The Men from Hyde – ‘Harry’ Haviland White

Harry White was born Haviland White in 1880 in Holdenhurst, Bournemouth, the son of William and Eliza White.  He appears to have used both names, calling himself Harry Haviland White.

In the 1881 census, the year after Harry was born, he is living at the ‘Three Elms Inn’ at Holdenhurst where his father is the landlord.  William and Eliza (both 32 years old) have three children: Catherine (9), Henry (6, registered in 1875 as Harry White), and Haviland (1). The whole family was born in Holdenhurst.

By 1891, the family had moved to Winchester where they are living at 64, Canon Street.  William (42) is now working as a builder.  As well as Henry (15), Catherine (13), and Haviland (10), there are 3 further children: Eva (9), Lot (7), and Sydney (5).

In the 1901 census, the family is living at 3, King Alfred Place.  Only two of the siblings are now living at home: Lot (17) is working as a carpenter’s apprentice, and Sidney (14) is a bricklayer’s assistant.  Haviland cannot be traced in the census.

However, by the 1911 census, Haviland had returned to his parents at 3, King Alfred Place.  He is now 30 and working as a carter. His sister Eva (29) is at home, also his brother Sidney (24) who is a carpenter.  His mother Eliza states that she has had 6 children, one of whom has died: Lot had died in 1907 aged 23.

In 1912, Haviland married Ellen May Dumper in Winchester.  Ellen had been born in Winchester in 1887 and went on to have two children with Haviland: Doris (born 1913) and Harry (born 1916).

Haviland enlisted in the Royal Navy in August 1914 as a stoker, with service number 283351.  He served with HMS Venus, a light cruiser with a crew of 450.

HMS Venus

Venus had left Portsmouth in July 1914 to patrol the Irish waters, and a year later sailed for Gibraltar and then Aden.  It is not known at what point Haviland joined the ship.  In February 1916, Venus sailed on to Sri Lanka, in May to Singapore, then the Philippines, and in August 1916 to Hong Kong.  After several months in the area, Venus left for Singapore in March 1917 and then on to Sri Lanka in June 1917.

The log book for HMS Venus gives the numbers of sick men: in early August 1918 in Aden there were up to 45 each day, and Haviland may well have been one of these.  Haviland, by this time a Leading Stoker, was sent to Portsmouth to HMS Victory.  This ship was based in Portsmouth as a training school, though by 1906 the school had been moved to the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth, retaining the name of Victory as another name for the Barracks.

Haviland died at the Royal Navy Barracks on Thursday 19th September 1918 from illness, though this is not specified.  He was buried at Winchester (West Hill) Old Cemetery.

Haviland’s children were aged 5 and 2. His widow Ellen remained in Winchester until her death in 1957, aged 69.

The Men from Hyde – Frederick George Woods

Frederick George Woods was born on 17th November, 1899 at the Shorncliffe Army Base near Folkestone, Kent.  His parents were William Henry and Annie Elizabeth (nee Martin) Woods, who had married on 10th December 1891 on Portsea Island, Portsmouth.

Frederick and his siblings were born and brought up in different parts of the world as their father served in the army for many years as a musician. Fortunately, the army records of Frederick’s father are available and give much information on the family.

In 1881, William Henry Woods enlisted in the army in Roorkee, a town in the far north of India, at the age of “14 years and 2 months”!  As he was already in India, it can be assumed that his father was also in the army. He served in the Dorset Regiment, then the Hampshire Regiment, in India, Aden, Malta and Britain.  He became a Bandsman at the age of 16, rising to becoming a Bandmaster.

William’s army records give detailed information on his children:

Beatrice Annie  born August 1893 in Belfast

William Charles  born April 1895 in Belfast

John Thomas Martin  born October 1897 in Malta

Frederick George  born November 1899 at Shorncliffe

Godfrey James  born July 1906 in Dorchester

By the time William left the army in 1908 he had served for almost 27 years. He then enlisted in the Territorial Force of the Hampshire Regiment in 1909 for a further 4 years as a musician, serving ‘at home’ in Britain.  When WW1 began, William was sent to India in October 1914, not being demobilized until February 1919.  He left the army with long service and good conduct medals.

However, William returned to the army in 1920 and was accepted as a Bandmaster in the Territorials at the age of 53. He finally left the army in 1923.

1914 Wife Annie living at 6 Wilson Rd, Portsmouth

Home address 26 Nuns Rd 21.3.19

Died 11 June 1944 at 26 Nuns Rd aged 77

Informant: B G Marcham, 26 Nuns Rd

His parents were living in 26, Nuns Road when the war broke out.  He was enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment.  By this stage in the war, there was not much link between where a man enlisted and the territory linked to the name of his new regiment.  Serving soldiers were frequently attached to different regiments as the war progressed.  He was allocated to the 2nd Garrison Battalion of the Bedfordshires.  They were based in India, and that is where Frederick spent the war, with no record of his unit being in combat.  He died of Malaria on 6th December 1918.

The Men from Hyde – William Frank Leach

William Frank Leach, known to all as Billy, was the son of William and Alice Mary Leach (nee Sawkins).  He was born in 1888 in Alderbury, near Salisbury. His parents had married in London in 1883 and went on to have seven children, only one of which was a son; William.

In the 1891 census, the family is living over a grocer’s shop at 41 Castle Street, Salisbury.  William Snr is a grocer and wine merchant.  He and Alice are both 35 years old. With them are their children Maud Sarah (7), Alice Winifred (6), Dorothy (4), William Frank (2), and Margery (under 1 month).  William Snr’s sister Sarah Leach is visiting.  The whole of the family was born in Salisbury.  William’s business appears to be thriving as he has two live-in nurses and a general servant.

In the 1901 census, the family is leaving in Bemerton, Wiltshire.  William Snr is described as a grocer’s traveller.  Maud is now 17 and a Pupil Teacher at an elementary school.  Another daughter has arrived since the last census: Mary, aged 3.  William is 12 years old.

According to the Winchester War Register, William enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment in 1906 at the age of 17.  This was probably a part-time role as in the 1911 census William Frank is 22 years old and a schoolmaster at an elementary school.  He is boarding with George Wheeler and his wife at 2, Alswitha Terrace, Winchester.  George Wheeler is probably a friend of William Leach as they were both born in Salisbury and George is described as a ‘Traveller grocer and provisions, wine and spirits’ like William Leach Snr.

William joined the Hampshire Regiment as a private, but rose to the post of Colour Sergeant Major, the highest rank open to a non-commissioned officer. He was sent to India with the 1/4th Hampshire Regiment, embarking at Southampton on 9th October 1914 and in March 1915 moved to Mesopotamia (Iraq), landing at Basra.  He was taken prisoner by the Turks, captured after the surrender of Kut al Amara on 29th April 1916.  By then William had been Mentioned in Despatches and had earned rapid promotion to the rank of Regimental Serjeant Major.

The capture of the British and Indian forces at Kut in central Iraq led to great hardship and many deaths; in particular the other ranks.  Ottoman central control was weak and haphazard, and as the Allies resumed their advance in the Middle East under, among others, General Allenby, the Ottomans marched prisoners away from their retreating front line to camps in the interior of their Empire.

William died on 2nd May 1918 of typhoid at the age of 30, caught, it was claimed, by those who were there, as he looked after British and Indian prisoners in the PoW camp at Nuseybin to the north west of Mosul.

There are several items belonging to William in the Royal Hampshire Museum.  One is a letter from a British officer who had been with him at his death.  The address from where it written is Afyon KaraHisar; William died at Nuseybin; he is commemorated in a very sensitive part of modern Baghdad, near the University.  The three places are separated by 850 miles.

Another letter from a British PoW who knew Billy says that he was “one of the few unfortunates who have died in this country who have received a decent burial”.  The inscription on his headstone says: “He did his duty”.

William Snr died in either 1919 or 1929 in Salisbury.  Alice Mary died in Romford, Essex in 1938 aged 83.