Return of my writing blog

After receiving several requests, I have decided to reinstate my weekly blog. I hope to use it as an opportunity to publicise my own work and raise issues of interests to other writers and readers. All comments and feedback are welcomed.

As some of you know my main project is a full-length book describing attempts to find the identity of Mary Jane Kelly who was killed by Jack the Ripper on 9 November 1888. As I attempt to make sense of all the information I sometimes contribute to threads on Jack the Ripper forums.  An excellent place to share and debate findings. This week I commented on the Mrs Rees thread.

In Ripperologist 160 I published an article about John Rees, the only Welsh contemporary who claimed to know Mary Kelly. His father-in-law Doctor John Morgan Hopkins was acquitted of murdering a woman called Emily Cope who visited him for an abortion in 1884. The father of the child was Andrew Francis Bayntum, described in the press as a married dentist. I have now discovered that Bayntum’s wife filed for divorce after he left her and fled to Bath in 1878. He appears in the 1881 census with Emily Morris, posing as his wife, and a new-born daughter.

The same census lists John Morgan Hopkins with two daughters but, at that time, he was estranged from his family and there is no record of either Barbara or Mary being born. Mary married Rees and was convicted of procuring an abortion in 1888. Barbara Louisa Hopkins married in London in 1882 to Andrew Burch Watson. In 1887 a widow called Barbara Louisa Watson appears on two banns for marriage, with two different men, within a three-month period at a Poplar Church. Neither marriage was registered. If she was the same woman as Barbara Louisa Hopkins, then she could not have been Mary Jane Kelly whose movements are known from April 1887 onwards.

Paul Williams is an author of fiction and non-fiction including Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia.  During June and July, he will be donating royalties from copies sold in Australia to The Black Dog Institute.

My Last Blog

This will be the last of my regular weekly blogs.

Two years ago, I started blogging to promote myself and my writing. Every Friday or Saturday, with a couple of holiday exceptions, I added a short post. Most were nothing to do with creative writing, covering current affairs, business development and other diverse topics.  I envisaged it becoming a modern version of “Mustard and Cress”, the weekly newspaper column written by George Robert Sims for 45 years.

Whilst it has been fun finding new things to write about and the feedback has been positive, I do not feel that the core objective has been met. In truth the blog has distracted me from my other writing. With several large and time-consuming projects underway and a decision to change jobs, it seems an appropriate time to end this commitment.

I will continue to maintain the website and use it to provide updates on my writing in addition to my facebook page.

Thank you all for reading.

Is the work/life balance right?

Millionaire Roxy Jacenko recently said that lazy and entitled Australians put work/life balance before their career. She is living proof of her philosophy that hard work brings success. However, there are some who apply this philosophy only to their job and not to their careers.

Each organisation has people who come in early, finish late, never take a day off sick and always do more than they are paid for. In football terms they are the first names on the team sheet but the last to make the headlines. Solid, dependable and loyal they get overlooked for promotion because they’re too busy achieving the organisation’s goals to consider their own future, and the organisation considers them too valuable in their current role.

Jacekeno’s other point was that her Chinese partners answer emails instantly at all times of the day. In a global environment that’s a competitive advantage, which threatens the traditional 9-5 routine. As Australian businesses start to fall behind they may have to choose between workers who give extra time and effort and those who seek a better work/life balance.

No deals, Mr Dutton

As I embark on an eighteen month wait for the inexplicably slow Australian Immigration Department to tick a box on a visa renewal, I discovered a faster way. All I have to do is pay a fee to a lobbyist, like ex senator Santo Santoro, to arrange a meeting with the Immigration Minister. Then I’d be able to jump the queue or even have a private citizenship ceremony (not that I’d ever want to be an Australian citizen).

Santoro like Peter Dutton, the former Immigration Minister, and Huang Xiangmo all deny any wrong-doing. Nobody believes them because it is quite illogical for an astute businessman to hand over thousands of dollars and get nothing in return.

Mr Dutton represents a government whose main immigration policy deters people from paying smugglers for a passage to Australia. Perhaps it could better achieve this aim by asking for direct payments from the refugees.

Fake News from 1920

On 11 April a series of faked photographs are expected to fetch £65,000 at auction. The original pictures taken in 1917 by two schoolgirls appear to show fairies and a gnome in a Yorkshire garden. Two years later they were displayed at a meeting of the Theosophical Society. Photographic experts declared them to be genuine images. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle obtained permission to use the pictures in an article and his endorsement encouraged others to accept the reality of fairies. Some people even visited the area and claimed sightings of their own.

Despite this the media were largely unconvinced. Doubts were vindicated in 1983 when the girls admitted that they had faked the images using cardboard copies of images from a book. They maintained that it was not a deliberate attempt to mislead, just a deception that spiraled out of control.

Today we see a lot of fake news, clearly intended to deceive, that is accepted by sections of the media without question. We can learn a lot from the contemporary reaction to the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Two types of collaboration

Some organisations are using collaboration as a performance measure. This makes sense, given the increased need for social skills in the workplace, but the word has negative connotations. The second dictionary definition is of treacherous cooperation with the enemy, usually applied to those who allied themselves with unpleasant regimes. Surprisingly this has some relevance to the modern workplace.

There are two types of collaborators in an organisation. The first works with anyone to achieve a better result for the business. The second selectively supports individuals or projects in the hope of personal gain. Typically a preferred consultant devises a ridiculous scheme to justify his, or her, commission then sycophantic managers rush around to implement it and the most successful is promoted. The initiative is either quietly abandoned or left for some underling to repair, without acknowledgment.

The second type of collaboration offers career, and financial, rewards but costs the respect of colleagues. Staff always know when someone is authentic, even if managers don’t. So, before you tick the collaboration box ask if you are driven by personal or business objectives.

Delete that Junk

When you open your letter box what do you do with all the unwanted mail? Circulars, bills for the previous occupant and anything addressed to Dear Householder. Do you leave it in the box or carefully file with everything that you want to keep? No, so why do you do that with your email?

Some people see the size of their inbox as a status symbol. They think they’re important because the number of items is in four figures. Others spend the whole day dreading the regular arrival of irrelevant emails. Recently I’ve taken a more proactive approach, deleting almost everything as soon as it arrives. I call this ASK, standing for Act, Save, and Know. When you view an email you should ask immediately, Do I really need to know this? If not, delete. Remember that regular senders of irrelevant material can be blocked or diverted automatically to junk.

Next ask if you need to keep the email. Usually it is the attached or linked documents that contain the important information. Save them in an appropriate folder for later reference then delete the email. Finally ask if you need to action anything. Does the email require a response? If so, send one, and delete the original. Your reply, and the original email, are saved in Sent Items if you ever need them again.

These steps enable you to keep the inbox nice and tidy, so that you can concentrate on talking to colleagues and clients about important matters.