Battles on the high seas

Mirinda went into London today. She had to have a face to face with her Exec. She was picked up at 06:15 and didn’t get home until after 10pm. It was a long day but exciting. My day, though, wasn’t. Which is good, really.

I did get to take the girls to the park rather than go shopping. It’s been ages since I’ve taken the Flika-stik© and Emma for an exhausting bout of chase the tennis ball and we both enjoyed it very much.

Freya, naturally, thoroughly enjoyed finding squirrels and giving them some exercise across the grass. Mind you, at one point she became very confused.

She always gets to the park first (she walks faster than me) and, today, she spotted a squirrel almost instantly and was off, after it. When I arrived at the park, I flicked the ball for Emma and headed towards where it had landed because she’d missed seeing it land.

Meanwhile, Freya was looking for me. I could see her, turning her head back and forth, desperately searching. Eventually, a man with a dog the same colour and size as Emma (not as beautiful, obviously) appeared around a corner behind Freya. She immediately headed for them, clearly mistaking the dog for Emma.

Imagine Freya’s surprise when the Emma look-a-like turned out not to be Emma – it was, in fact, male – and the man wasn’t me. I let her fret for a bit before calling her to me. She immediately turned towards me, her tail started furiously wagging. Then she looked back, almost in a double take.

When she reached me, I’m sure she wanted to tell me what had happened, but I assured her, I knew.

Back at home, my day was basically about housework and admin until 6:30pm when it was time for my first Society for Nautical Research live lecture.

Each year, the society awards the Anderson Medal for the best maritime publication. The medal is ceremoniously handed over at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, followed by a lecture by the author. The lecture is about the creation of the publication. I attended one a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I’m sure the author did as well.

Since the pandemic, SNR has gone virtual, and so the 2019 Anderson Medal winner was invited to give his lecture online rather than in-house. And, given Mirinda was going to be out and I didn’t have to make dinner, I ordered a ticket and joined the room, ready to hear the wise words of Professor Evan Mawdsley.

His book, The War for the Seas: A Maritime History of World War II, is his take on, you guessed it, the Second World War naval history. The prof is an authority on Russian military history and has a very short Wikipedia entry.

I found the process, as he described it, very interesting. The way he broke the war down into various periods, which made up the structure of the book into parts. He explained his reasoning behind each section, succinctly, I thought. Given I claim to be a writer (of sorts) I was very interested in how he planned the structure, and then, wrote the book.

It was interesting contrasting this lecture with the WFA webinars I sort of regularly attend. Of course, the WFA has been doing them a lot longer so you expect them to be a bit slicker but, even so, I thought the SNR did a good job.

Sadly, there were only 51 people attending, which dropped off to 40 by the Q&A session. Speaking of which, I actually asked a question, something I rarely do.

My WWI knowledge is so meagre that I can never think of a question during the WFA webinars and the people that do ask (there’s many of them) are almost as informative as the lecturer and make for some lively discussion.

Not that I claim to know very much about the maritime aspects of WWII but, I did read a book about the Russian submarine that torpedoed a liner full of refugees and, given the prof was an expert in Russian history, I thought I’d ask about how important the Russian submarines were in the Baltic.

The answer was simple: they weren’t.

Essentially, while Russia had the largest submarine force in 1941, it was mostly a coastal force and didn’t stray far from home. The prof gave a clear and concise answer. And I felt quite proud of myself.

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