There was a crazy man in the train from Guildford to Aldershot this afternoon. I thought he was talking to someone on a phone. After hearing him saying “three three three” quite a few times I listened a little more carefully.
He was talking about a mass of invisible armies and socialist ideals. He wasn’t loud but seemed educated and literate. He didn’t have a phone or earplugs. He also seemed quite mad. He left the train at Ash and the carriage sighed with relief.
There wasn’t any crazy people on the train to Portsmouth this morning. Or none that I noticed anyway. Actually it was quite misty today and, uncommonly, the train from Aldershot pulled into the same platform that my train to Portsmouth was leaving from. Of course I paid for this in the afternoon when they changed the platform for my train home twice.
Today was mostly about Naval signalling. Books abound regarding the subject of how to communicate with ships and shore and how to distinguish between friend and foe. Actually, a couple of them claimed that they were filling an empty niche. I can testify to this niche being far from empty.
As well as the signalling books, I also had cause to catalogue a few volumes regarding the naming of ships (far more interesting than signalling). Two of them were written by the Prince of Battenburg but the third, by far the most interesting, was written by Francis George Crofton in 1877.
Francis George (1838-1900) was a commander in the Royal Navy who decided this lovely little volume was needed by anyone with an interest in the art of the naming of things.
While I handle and deal with a lot of books of which I have little (read none) interest in, this is one I would dearly love. Apart from the fact that the information is invaluable, the book itself is lovely.
You can’t really see it from the photo but the edges of the covers, rather than being at right angles like any ordinary book, are bevelled at about 45 degrees. This gives it an air of the box, the lid and base protecting something precious. The jewels inside are safe and sound within.
It is, however, not a book I’ll be getting any time soon. I just looked it up on Abebooks and the cheapest volume is £98. Of course I could always get a reprint for about £7 but it’s just not the same is it?
Another wonderful item this week was the discovery of two German World War II code books. It took a while for me to translate what they were but soon the columns of meaningless collections of characters started to make sense. One of the books even had some type written pages in English, translated, one imagines, by the code breakers.
Sometimes the books I find have loose bits of paper in them. These can be reviews of the book or articles written by the author or even random notes. Like this one.
The SMY Meteor IV was the royal yacht of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Captain Begas was the captain. The Kaiser rather enjoyed sailing though this wasn’t one of those little racing yachts. No, this was a yacht like the Britannia. It was a luxury marine vessel.
I wondered about the piece of paper and when I turned it over, wondered even more.
I don’t know what happened to the rest of the note but I can only assume that the scalp wound was on his scalp.
But mysteries aside, today was mostly about signalling which, naturally, involves lots and lots of flags. Nelson at Trafalgar was mentioned a few times with one entire book written about his use of the flags that he did use. Not a best seller I’m thinking.
Flags for boats, flags for warships, flags for merchant marines, many, many flags.
By the end of the day I’d flagged and was ready to go home.