I have been racing - er, well, expending short bursts of energy - to try and finish my new, all-singing-all-dancing PowerPoint (PP) presentation on the Battle of Waterloo. Yesterday a commenter called Jeff left a comment on an earlier post of mine and it transpires that he works for a PowerPoint design company in Canada. Until now, I had reckoned myself the Cecil B. de Mille of PP designers but I suspect that Jeff's outfit have forgotten more about PP than I will ever know. Even so, I have no hesitation in declaring my total and unstinting love for PP and the team of swots who dreamt it up in the first place. It appeals to the latent (very latent) artistic side of my nature because colour, tone, shape, balance and movement all have to be considered along with sound effects if required. Also there is a sort of theatrical element involved because you must limit the effect of PP's flair at those points during the presentation where you need the audience to listen to what you are saying. In other words, PP can be a bit like acting with one of those prima donna leading ladies who will up-stage you at every turn - bitch! Anyway, I love it and I can tell you that when I gave my last PP talk on the Battle of Midway and my little aircraft flew across the screen and bombed my little ships I was like a child of five at Christmas - and my audience loved it, too, after I woke them up to make sure they watched - well, it had been a good lunch!
But returning to Waterloo, again, just like Midway, I am struck by how luck? chance? fate? seems to play such a huge part in great events. With the latter it was a couple of Jap recce planes being delayed by half an hour, and with the former it was a terrific mid-summer rainstorm on the Saturday afternoon and evening the day before the battle. The rain 'stair-rodded' in for hours and allowed the British to make their escape up the road from Quatre Bras and on to the field at Waterloo. The next morning Napoleon had ordered that battle commence at 09.00 but was advised that the ground was so sodden that artillery would be rendered ineffective. Gunners firing round shot (canon balls) liked to achieve a skip and bounce effect which would provide you with a 'bigger bang for your buck' by taking out considerably more men. Equally, the howitzer gunners knew that their exploding shells, instead of lying on the ground fizzing away until the fuse went off, would instead bury themselves in the mud and achieve very little. As an ex-gunner himself, Napoleon appreciated the problem and so the opening 0f the battle was delayed by over two hours in order to give the ground time to dry out somewhat. Those two hours turned out to be gold in the bank as far as Wellington was concerned because it gave his Prussian allies that bit more time to come in on Napoleon's flank and clinch victory. Splendid chaps, those Prussians, won't have a word said against them, er, well, the 19th century ones, anyway.
All of that old waffle was by way of telling you that I am giving my PP talk on Waterloo tonight and I am still frantically trying to put in last minute touches and tweaks - that's another problem with PP, you can never stop fiddling with it! So I might be a bit busy for the rest of the day.