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A few years ago, when the BBC reran the radio dramatisation of The Worst Journey in the World which got me into this whole Scott thing, I made a small comic about the journey I've been on since being introduced to these amazing people and their story. A little while ago, a small gallery in Minneapolis with which I've had some dealings put out a call for art illustrating one's personal story and 'what makes you tick,' which seemed like the perfect excuse to bring the story up to the present and make something of it.

The continuation picks up in 2012, with the culmination of Centenary Fever, and the overseas trip which tipped the balance on my personal status quo:

... and goes three more pages through the changes both internal and external, my shift in perspective and priorities, and acceptance of a particular direction for my life.

Plus three more pages to bring it home, a small but hugely significant passage from Worst Journey (quoted with permission!), and a short suggested reading list should anyone have their curiosity piqued and be heedless of my warning that such material may change their life, too.

Said comic and text have been compiled into a small booklet, which is currently available from the gallery's shop should you wish to acquire one.* The site doesn't say so, but they are all signed!

This foray into self-publishing has been ... "an adventure" ... but I think I might be tempted to do a little more, if there's a market for it. It's strange to think anyone would smile on buying my artwork when I've been feeding the Internet for free lo these many years, but other people seem to manage it, so ...? Any advice on this, or suggestions for what sort of things you'd like to see, would be very gratefully received. With any luck I'll figure out something for North American distribution which will spare you paying through the nose for overseas shipping, something that couldn't get sorted out before the gallery show. (Sorry about that, but the profit margin is tiny on those little books, believe it or not.)

*Given that these booklets have had to cross the Atlantic once already, I'd advise Europeans to hold off for a few weeks and let those on the other side pick up the gallery copies – I aim to have some more local distribution set up in April or so.
tealin: (terranova)
Still no sign of Them rerunning the radio play which got me hooked, but the indulgent Beeb has two Scott programmes on offer this week:

A Father For My Son - The first of three readings based on a one-woman play about Kathleen Scott (Mrs R.F.), who was quite a character. Independent spirited sculptress and bohemian, she's a far cry from the demure little wifey of the period, and I have a bit of a soft spot for her. Episode 1 is about her childhood and going to art school in France; no mention of her friendship with Aleister Crowley unfortunately, but it gives you an idea of who she was ...

Scott's Legacy - The historiography surrounding the Terra Nova Expedition has mostly focused on the race to the pole and the tragedy, obsessing over the 'what if's. What has actually been the most lasting and important (though overlooked) thing is the science that was done, which did important groundwork in several major fields, and informed our modern understanding of climate and geology, among other things. The show goes to the exhibit currently running at the Natural History Museum and talks to all sorts of experts, and is a very good overview of the scientific side of things. Of course, it does, um, contain 'spoilers' for the next few weeks of OHYAT ... but it's all already happened, really ...
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The final part of Sara Wheeler's five-part series on the men of the Terra Nova is a subject close to my heart, and evidently close to hers as well, because she wrote his biography.

To Strive and Seek: Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Chronicler

Mentioned photos:
Setting out for Cape Crozier
Returning from Cape Crozier

The story of the Polar Party is very sad, indeed tragic, in every sense of the word, even (especially) the classical. The thing about tragedy, though (especially the classical), is that it carries with it an element of catharsis. When I tell people about this obsession of mine, if they know anything about it already they tend to roll their eyes a bit and go 'Oh gosh, that's so depressing...' While I do find it intensely sad, oddly I don't find it depressing at all. No, what is depressing is Cherry's post-Antarctic biography. Merely surviving to a ripe old age is not always the happy ending.

On a lighter note: I've managed to deal with it for the rest of the series, but it's just really weird to hear Cherry's words delivered by anyone but Matt Green, who played him in the radio play that introduced me to all of this, and in my opinion was brilliantly cast and note-perfect in his portrayal. One of the reasons I put off reading the book so long was that I didn't want it to have a different 'voice' than what was in the play, but it was exactly what Mr Green (and the writer and director) had led me to expect, and as a result I 'hear' Cherry's words in that voice whenever I encounter them. I really really hope that the signs of centenary interest visible on Radio 4's scheduling mean that they're going to rerun the radio play this year, so I can point everyone in its direction ...
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The next episode in Radio 4's series about the lesser-known members of Scott's expedition who didn't die with the Polar Party ... is about the second most famous man to die with the Polar Party, who left some of the most famous last words ever.

Mine is not to question why ...

To Strive and Seek: "Titus" Oates, Cavalry Officer

Mentioned photo:
Titus and ponies on the Terra Nova
Not-mentioned photo:
Titus (and some other guys) at the Pole

You might want to get a cocoa (or something stronger) before listening to this one ...
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Today's edition of Scott's team profiles takes us to the staggeringly dreadful unplanned winter of the Northern Party on Inexpressible Island. I was a little surprised they didn't use this quote in the show* so I provide it for you here:
The road to hell might be paved with good intentions, but it seemed probable that hell itself would be paved something after the style of Inexpressible Island.

– George Murray Levick (another member of the party)

To Strive and Seek: Raymond Priestley, Geologist

The obligatory visual aides:
The Parasitologist at his Bench - That would be E.L. 'Atch' Atkinson. His hand got frostbitten in this episode.
Three Men Dig an Ice Hole - According to the SPRI, it's Deb who's standing aside and Priestley is one of the diggers.
Return of the Northern Party

*It's possible it was in there after all and I missed it when I was looking up a photo, but I was listening for it!

Tom Crean

Jan. 10th, 2012 08:39 am
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The subject of today's installment of the Terra Nova crew portraits is, as far as I know, the only one who has a theme song.

To Strive and Seek: Tom Crean, Hardcore Hero

Unflappable, amazing, intensely competent, cheerful, and resilient, Tom Crean also loved puppies! It's a wonder he doesn't have a fandom all his own. (Or does he?)

This is the photo mentioned, of Tom Crean and P.O. Evans sewing sleeping bags. Crean is on the left.

The South Pole Inn, which he founded, is still in Annascaul and open for business – and even has a Facebook page! What a fascinating modern world we live in.

Also, in case you're curious, ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY the Polar Party left their first camp south of Shackleton's 'Furthest South,' which he had reached in 1909. They were treading virgin territory ... though it looked just like all the other territory, and the surface was dreadful for pulling a sledge. The Second Returning Party were trying to find their way back through fog and snow – more on that later – and the First Returning Party were going in circles when they couldn't find the tracks left by the dogs which had preceded them back. Adventure!
tealin: (4addict)
I have been considering for a while that I should post some short character synposes of the main players on the Terra Nova Expedition, because as things start to get exciting now it's probably better to have an idea of who's who, and to see the person behind the decision or the reaction ... and because, for all the epic epicness of the story, it's the people who got me so deeply into it.

This is, of course, the sort of thing one considers doing when one has far too many more important things to do ... Luckily, Radio 4 has chosen this week to express that it loves me back just a little bit, and is doing my work for me with five 15-minute bio pieces on less famous members of the crew. Here is the first:

To Strive and Seek: Herbert Ponting, Camera Artist

It's very nicely produced and contains actual facts that I have never encountered before, so my hopes are high for the rest of the week! If you're curious about the pictures mentioned, I list them below. The links take you to pages on the SPRI's gallery site; if you click on the image there you can see it a little bigger.
The Tenements (I'm pretty sure the nice lady in the show has Meares and Atkinson reversed; Meares is opposite Oates)
Meares and Oates at the Blubber Stove
The Geologist(s) at their table with books
The Cook in a wooly hat
Sketching Painting
The Darkroom
Mt Erebus and the Barne Glacier (and Anton)
And finally, Herbert Ponting himself
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It's been quite a long while since I've posted a 'One Hundred Years Ago Today,' but that's because not much of note has been happening at Cape Evans of late, or rather no single thing of enough significance to commemorate the anniversary. Even the return of the sun was drawn out over several days on account of a blizzard the day it was supposed to peep over the horizon.

But we're about to get back into centenary season pretty quickly here, so: a recap of what's been going on since the Crozier Party got back.

Ponies! And other stuff. )

Coincidentally, and of far lesser importance, some point this week marks three years since I completely fell for the radio play that started it all. Stef Penney, Kate McAll, and the cast and crew at BBC Wales: I cannot ever thank you enough.

Nose Nips

Jul. 1st, 2011 07:39 am
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[... W]e were harassed by a nasty little wind which blew in our faces. The temperature was -66°, and in such temperatures the effect of even the lightest airs is blighting, and immediately freezes any exposed part. But we all fitted the bits of wind-proof lined with fur which we had made in the hut, across our balaclavas in front of our noses, and these were of the greatest comfort. They formed other places upon which our breath could freeze, and the lower parts of our faces were soon covered with solid sheets of ice, which was in itself an additional protection. This was a normal and not uncomfortable condition during the journey: the hair on our faces kept the ice away from the skin, and for myself I would rather have the ice than be without it, until I want to get my balaclava off to drink my hoosh. We only made 2¼ miles, and it took 8 hours.

– Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World


Jun. 19th, 2011 12:17 am
tealin: (terranova)
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO roughly this past week or so –

Lieutenant E.R.G.R. "Teddy" Evans gave his installment of the wintertime lecture series, on the basics of surveying. When I read Scott's journal entry on it I thought it must have been Edgar Evans, because he's described as "shy and slow, but very painstaking", which doesn't sound like Teddy "Let Me Show You My Party Trick" Evans at all. But the Director's Cut of the journals assures me that yes, Teddy it was. Upon reflection I came to the realisation that more may have been at play than stage fright: Scott had something less than a high opinion of his second-in-command and seems not to have been very good at hiding his feelings about people. There's a famous drawing of Walt Disney giving someone 'the eyebrow' (evidently not famous enough to turn up on Google Image Search, though) and I thought, if Grumpyface Scott was sitting in the front row appraising him like that, that could put anyone off their game.

After the lecture, Scott made a list of Basic Things About Navigation which All Officers Should Know, including how to find a meridian altitude – the measurement of a celestial object through a sextant which, after looking up the object and date in a big table of numbers and doing some calculations, tells you your latitude. Cherry, though ... )

Anyway, one early morning, as I was reading my email before coffee (always a dangerous thing), I read VanDee's correspondence on the Teddy/Cherry episode, and my half-conscious brain leapt in to say "Wa-hey! But for a matter of spelling that could be a really dreadful pun! Maybe Cherry just didn't get it!" So, of course, this happened: A Comeek. )
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Dear Capt. Scott,

Don't think I didn't notice that your journal entry for today started in the afternoon.

Happy morning after,
tealin: (terranova)

It is my birthday, a fact I might easily have forgotten, but my kind people did not. At lunch an immense birthday cake made its appearance and we were photographed assembled about it. Clissold had decorated its sugared top with various devices in chocolate and crystallised fruit, flags and photographs of myself.

I take inordinate pride in how well I have learned to identify people, so:
L-R: Birdie, Atch, Silas, 'Marie' (Nelson), Teddy, Scott, Wilson, Sunny Jim, Griff, Gran, Oates(?) and possibly Cherry's hand

After my walk I discovered that great preparations were in progress for a special dinner, and when the hour for that meal arrived we sat down to a sumptuous spread with our sledge banners hung about us. Clissold’s especially excellent seal soup, roast mutton and red currant jelly, fruit salad, asparagus and chocolate – such was our menu. For drink we had cider cup, a mystery not yet fathomed, some sherry and a liqueur.

Standing: L, Oates; R, Gran
Sitting, L-R: Atch! Meares! Cherry! Griff! Marie! Teddy! Scott! Wilson! Sunny Jim! Birdie! Silas! Deb! And— ... uh, Day?

As much as I would love to go back in time and find out what this unfathomable 'cider cup' was ...

I don't think my greetings would go over very well.

Also, a birthday cake with little photos of the birthday-ee all over it? How adorable is that? Especially when they're probably all scowling!
tealin: (terranova)
Tryggve Gran was in an awkward situation, as a Norwegian on Scott's team. He'd signed on before Amundsen had announced his plans, and to his credit, he played fair, but that didn't stop him standing up for what he believed in.

Today is 'Separation Day' of Norway and as such has been celebrated by Gran. He was on watch last night and began furbishing himself up at about 11 o'clock. When the clock struck 12 he went out and tho' it was blizzing, he sang his National Anthem to the stars. He then came in to hoist his flag over his bunk.

~ Frank Debenham

Capt. Lawrence 'Titus' Oates was a hero of the Boer War, who at one point had been surrounded by the enemy and, when offered clemency, replied 'We didn't come here to surrender!' and fought his way out. He was the horse expert, brought to train and care for the ponies, and as the expedition's only Army man, earned the nickname 'Soldier.'

Tonight Soldier gave us a ripping lecture on the Management of Horses. He gave us all a surprise as his slow way of talking hardly lends itself to the lecturing, but he lectured really well and his dry smileless humour was splendid.


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Deb delivered, according to Scott, an 'elementary' geology lecture 'with a view to making his further lectures better understood.' Ohhhh, but that misses out the best bits, because according to Deb it went like this:
The subject was general Geology mostly to do with the classification of Rocks, a very dry subject. I kept going for the appointed hour and a few of the more zealous took notes but several others had hard work to keep themselves awake. Birdie, Atch and Soldier [Titus] made great sport before the lecture, sitting at the other side of the specimens. They clapped furiously at everything I pulled out and yelled 'encore,' 'lollies and chocolates,' etc. etc. and until the lecture I was hard at work chucking off the table various extra specimens laid out by them, such as pieces of soap, boots and sponges, but as I aimed at them I got my revenge. On turning up one of my rock diagrams I found Birdie had labelled them 'section of German sausage,' 'brawn' etc. Next time I shall prepare it more carefully and have more specimens to show.
tealin: (Default)
As the cold and darkness of Antarctic winter descended, to keep everyone informed and stave off terminal boredom, Capt. Scott instituted a lecture series. Three times a week, someone would make a presentation on some area of their expertise or experience. Bill launched the series with a talk on Antarctic flying birds, and Griff gave one on the physiology of rivers, but the first one to be of real significance for everyone was on 8 May 1911, when Scott himself outlined his plans for reaching the Pole the following summer. So ...

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO a couple days ago because I forgot!

This is the Map that Cherry DrewFrom the sources I have on hand, Deb was the only one who tried to note down the presentation verbatim, so I am going to quote him (thanks Deb!):

'"I regard the journey to the Pole in three stages, the 1st to the bottom of the Beardmore Glacier, the 2nd to the top and the 3rd the long journey on the summit of the plateau to the Pole. The whole journey there and back is about 1,530 geographical miles, longer than any sledge journey ever yet made. Since Shackleton's figures are our best guide, I have laid these prospective plans upon data from his book." [N.B.: Here follows some math.]

"On this calculation the whole journey will be ... 144 days back to Cape Armitage [the southernmost tip of Ross Island, near Hut Point].

"Now I don't know whether you realise that 144 days from Nov. 3rd (about the time I intend to start) brings us to Mar. 27th. Further, that the ship cannot stay in the Sound later than Mar. 10th. Therefore the Pole party will almost certainly be too late for the ship. Since the Pole party will be too late, and will have to spend another year, there is no reason why practically the whole party should not stay another year, but on that point we shall have further discussion.

"I wish to repeat now what I said when I first heard of the presence of Amundsen, that this Expedition is going to lay its plans and carry on with its work just as if Amundsen did not exist.

'Capt. Scott then went on to discuss the matter of transport. He considered it unwise to assume that the ponies or dogs would be able to help after the bottom of the Beardmore was reached, and that men alone must be counted on for the last 2 stages. He planned therefore that 3 units (either 3-men or 4-men units, to be determined later) should start from the bottom of the glacier and after 2 weeks one unit should go back. After another 2 weeks the 2nd unit should go back leaving the last unit to make the Pole itself.

'... As regards transport, he felt sure that the only reliable means was the ponies ... "If the ponies can pull 550 lbs each, they alone will be able to pull all that is necessary to the base of the Beardmore."

'The dogs he was frankly disappointed in and he doubted whether they would get as far as the Beardmore. Also he felt he could place no reliance on the motors [motorised sledges], tho' he would send them off a week earlier to show if they could be of any use.

'He decided that all should take ski to the base of the glacier as he thought they would be very useful on the way home when the weights were light. Then he approached the question of endurance. So far he, Evans, and Lashly have exprienced 35 days on the Plateau and were done up completely. Shackleton and his party were about the same time. To get to the Pole the party will have to be 75 days on that Plateau. "I don't know whether it is possible for men to last out that time, I almost doubt it."'
tealin: (terranova)
Dunno how long this is going to be up on The Tube, so if you've got an hour and a half handy, check it out while you still can!

Half Back

Apr. 13th, 2011 09:01 am
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Scott's party made it back to the base at Cape Evans, after being marooned for a day on a small island while a blizzard blew through.
After the meal we struck camp, formed marching order, and started half running for winter quarters. Covering a couple of miles we found, to our great relief, that the fast ice not only extended up to the Cape but right round into North Bay, We soon sighted the hut, and shortly after saw some people working outside.

Directly they saw us in they ran to bring the others out at full speed, and coming to meet us they cheered and greeted us, then hauled our sledges in. It appeared they were unable to recognise any of us owing to our dirty and dishevelled state.

This was not to be wondered at, for we had not washed nor had we shaved for eighty days. We all talked hard and exchanged news. Ponting lined us up to be photographed―the first nine Bolshevists―we looked such awful black­guards.

~ Teddy Evans

L-R: Griff Taylor, Silas Wright, Teddy Evans, Birdie Bowers, Capt. Scott, Frank Debenham, Tryggve Gran, Edgar Evans, Tom Crean

Several of the party went quite 'dotty', Gran grabbing a piece of pastry as soon as he got inside, and Griff excuting a perfect pas-de-seul up the passage-way.

~ Frank Debenham

Meanwhile, back at Hut Point ...
We were very anxious about the returning party, especially when all the ice north of Hut Point went out. The blizzard blew itself out this morning, and it was a great change to see White Island and The Bluff once more. Atkinson came in before lunch and told me that, looking from the Heights, the ice from Glacier Tongue to Cape Evans appeared to have gone out. This sobered our lunch. We all made our way to Second Crater afterwards, and found the ice from the Hutton Cliffs to Glacier Tongue and thence to Cape Evans was still in.

Before leaving, Scott arranged to give Véry Lights at 10 p.m. from Cape Evans on the first clear night of the next three. To-night is the third, and the first clear night. We were out punctually, and then as we watched a flare blazed up, followed by quite a firework display. We all went wild with excitement—knowing that all was well. Meares ran in and soaked some awning with paraffin, and we lifted it as an answering flare and threw it into the air again and again, until it was burning in little bits all over the snow. The relief was great.

~ Apsley Cherry-Garrard

You can find Scott's account of the return journey as well as the photos Ponting took of the 'Bolshevists' here.


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