Playing cards

Playing cards was never my forté. The trick-taking game of 500 was THE obsession for my schoolmates, but my reputation for reneging (failing to follow suit) meant that anyone unfortunate enough to have me as their partner instantly bid misere. Unfortunately, for someone interested in historical times and pastimes, it turns out that card playing has been a major socialising force over the centuries.

Twopenny Whist (Public domain)

During colonial times, the games of choice for the ‘genteel’ included the following nightmares for me to learn.

  • Whist
  • Vingt et Un (21, the forerunner of Blackjack)
  • Écarté – a two-player game, similar to Euchre
  • Loo (Lanterloo; somewhat like All Fours), which was a trick-taking game similar to Euchre

Betting was often associated with these games, and the stress involved could easily threaten the social veneer of polite society. For example, whiling away the tedium of a lengthy voyage by playing cards could threaten friendships and pockets:

At Loo we were all very much annoyed at Gardiner’s conduct, he turned up a card whilst dealing and refused to put his Loo in. I had myself a turn over a few minutes before. He, however, chose the excuse of the wind from the skylight above blowing if over and left the table without paying. We are all determined not to play again with him till he has – and apologized to the table for his conduct.” (Marsh, 28th May 1847)*


This evening at Loo, Seymour retired from the table determining to lose no more. The night before he was in great rage because the Dr could not play, and remarked that it was a great shame that he as a winner did not give him a chance to recover his losing £6. The Dr has now declared that he will not play anymore, he says he is winner of about £5, but I think he must have won at least 10. I have lost up to today 3. Davies paid me 10/- I won from him, this being the day when he saw the Mail would be divided.” (Marsh, 9th June 1847)*

As a chronic loser in any card game, I’m not entirely sure where my sympathies lie…

* Source: Marsh, J.A.M. “Diary of John Augustus Milbourne Marsh (1819-1891): 1847 (Transcribed from Betty Harrison Family Archives, by Michael Heath-Caldwell, Brisbane 2009).”

List of Illustrations?

My Quandary

How to make a list of illustrations that is separate from the contents page, but which keeps updating page numbers when other changes are made in the document?

Illustrated catalogue of the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company (1886) – Public domain

It turns out that, for my auto-updating list of illustrations with page numbers, what I needed was to learn how to ‘Create a table of figures’.

The key steps to follow were:

  • Preparation
    • Locate the ‘References’ tab along the top of document
    • Insert Caption under each of illustration in document
  • Creating the list in the document
    • Go to the spot in the document where you want the list
    • Locate the ‘References’ tab along the top of document
    • Insert Table of Figures
  • Updating the list
    • Go to the list
    • Locate the ‘References’ tab along the top of document
    • Update Table (whenever needed later).

Of course, within each of these steps there are other options to try out to finesse the formatting but, in essentials, once the captions are done, the rest was rapid and (best of all) accurate.

(*I’m using Word 2016, Windows 10, on a PC)

Adventures in Word Processing

Back in the day…

I learned to type on a clackety old manual typewriter in an after-school class at Seaforth Tech. At the time, my parents told me that, all else failing, I ‘could always get a job as a typist’. It was impossible to foresee that, within the next two decades, we’d all be multi-skilled and tapping away at keyboards that were connected to word processing technology with more memory than we could possibly fill.

Not much had changed by the 70s. (Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 2855, public domain)

However, the trouble with learning to light fires by rubbing sticks together is that you can wilfully ignore the many automated features of new developments such as butane lighters, declaring that ‘it’s quicker if I just do it the way I usually do’.  Recently, I hit this internal wall with a thud during my preparations of a manuscript for self-publication (more about that elsewhere!).

Yes, it needed a list of footnotes and a bibliography.

Yes, it needed a list of illustrations with page numbers that automatically updated when other changes were made in the manuscript.

Yes, it needed an index that similarly updated itself. I was fortunate enough to have my references and bibliography already formatted using 21st century technology (software Endnote), through having to use it in my work.

It was the list of illustrations and the index that I had persevered ‘doing it my way’: i.e., the very, very, very SLOW way. One week later, I am a born-again aficionado of the capacity of Word to create these. Dr Google threw up a lot of fellow-searchers, many of whom were asking questions about things a little to the side my exact needs, so I ended up at the Microsoft Office Support pages more often than not.*

Of course, many people are across this stuff and are technologically expert but, just in case you find you have similar blind-spot, I’ve done some other posts to that provide a potted summary.

(*I’m using Word 2016, Windows 10, on a PC, so my apologies to MAC users for any PC-centricism)