Today is Armistice Day.
From For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Today I’ve been thinking of my father, who was in the Green Howards Regiment and he took part in the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944. He was discharged from the Army in December 1944 as his Army Service Book records for “ceasing to fulfil Army physical requirements”. He didn’t talk about it to me at all . My mother told me that he suffered from shell shock and was in hospital immediately after D-Day for quite a while. She moved to Lancaster to be near him in the hospital. During the war she had worked in a factory where they made parachutes. The effects of shell shock lingered quite a while, as my mother told me he was very depressed. He did recover and I never would have thought my dad was ever depressed – when I knew him he was always cheerful and never seemed to worry about anything. Both my parents are dead now and I wish now that I had asked them more about their lives.
This makes me think I should know more about the war. There are many books and we have just a few. The Second World War: a narrative history by John Ray covers the campaigns and theatres of war. I have started to read this but am only a short way into it. Then there is the Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose about the Easy Company, 101st Airborne Division, of the US Army, covering the period from 1942 to D-Day and victory. We watched the televised series of this and have it on DVD, definitely one to revisit.
For fiction there are Melvyn Bragg’s books The Soldier’s Return, A Son of War, and Crossing the Lines, although covering the period from 1946 up to the 1950s are wonderful books and look back at the war period as well as showing what life was like in the aftermath of the second world war. Another book set in the period just after the war is One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes (which I wrote about here). I’ve also recently read Eliza Graham’s Playing with the Moon, a novel about the legacy of war, looking back over 60 years from the present day to the time when the Americans were training on the Dorset coast in preparation from D-Day and local people were evacuated from their homes. I’ll write more about this book in another post. BBC’s Countryfile this morning also covered these events in its film about Exercise Tiger on Slapton Sands when US landing crafts for D-Day were intercepted by German U-boats and two were sunk. The 1940s and 1950s are years that I really want to look at in more detail.
I’™d been thinking about writing a blog for some time and when my husband set one up for me last year I felt I really should use it. So, feeling extremely nervous and self-conscious I wrote my very first post on 22 July 2006. I was still working full time then and didn’™t write anymore until April this year after I’™d retired.
Basically I am a shy person and at first I found it really difficult to write about what I thought. Who on earth would want to know what I think anyway and why should they? I go to a book group and another member usually asks when we’™re deciding which book to read next ‘œwho is this person and why should we read what they’™ve written?’ Thoughts like these were going through my mind and then I thought well no-one will know what I’™m writing unless I tell them about the blog and I’™ll just write for my own satisfaction and so I began.
Soon I thought this was a bit self-centred and as I got a bit more confident I very, very occasionally dared to add a comment on someone else’™s blog, using my blog name as the contact. I was amazed when someone actually added a comment to my blog and that person was an author ‘“ Linda Gillard, whose book Emotional Geology I’™d mentioned in the post! Brilliant. I didn’™t feel I was writing in isolation anymore and I realised I actually like people to read what I’™m writing and to add their comments.
Stuck In a Book asked in one of his posts what do you call people you only know through blogging? He suggested ‘œe-friends’. Like him I feel a bit embarrassed talking about FRIENDS when I’ve never met them, but what else can you call them? I feel I do know a bit about some of the people whose blogs I visit, well I know what books you like, what food some of you like to eat and to cook, which places you like to go on holiday, and what your other hobbies are apart from reading and writing. I do think of you as ‘œfriends’ and I am so pleased you visit my blog.
Through Site Meter or Google Analytics I have some idea of where you live and how you found me. It’™s broadened my horizons. I now have a much better idea of where countries are and where for example Connecticut is in America and that there is a town called Cheshire in Connecticut (of interest to me because I was born in Cheshire, a county in the north west of England). I am amazed when I see that people from Cyprus, Scandinavia, India, Italy, Australia, Iran, Singapore, Peru and so on have visited me. I feel so much more cosmopolitan.
Most visitors to my blog are from the US and the UK, but surprisingly after that comes Romania. How did they find me? I noticed that the number of visitors rose quite steeply after I wrote about Lewis Carroll and his interest in photography and all the people from Romania had arrived at my blog to read this post, directed from a site called Fototarget, but how did Fototarget find it? Anyway if you’™re reading this in Romania, welcome and I hope you weren’™t too disappointed. I knew very little about photography before but now I’™ve realised that I am very interested in it and its history. If you can get BBC Four a new series started last night called The Genius of Photography. It’™s brilliant and well worth watching.
Another intriguing question is related to some of my posts that have been translated into German and posted on other blogs ‘“ why on earth do they want to do that? My post on Astrid and Veronika is in German on ‘œTravel’ blog, I can’™t imagine why, the book has nothing to do with travel. My last post on the Verneys of Claydon has been translated and put on ‘œHugh Health’ blog. It’™s called ‘œDas Verneys von Claydon’ and this has such a nice ring to it that the book may become called that in my mind from now on. But I think people reading it hoping to find out about health will be surprised to read about the medical practices in seventeenth century England that are described in the post.
So to all my e-friends thank you for visiting and I do hope you’™ll come again and I really like to read your comments.
The year is on the turn and autunm is on its way. Here is the view from the front of the house early this morning
and a close up view of the cattle in the mist.
We’ve had the most fruit ever from the apple and plum trees in the back garden, so it really is a “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!”
I love autumn.
I’ve managed to add a photo to the heading, showing the view from the front of our house. As I type this I look out over the field, now covered in buttercups to the cottage at the far side.
At last I’ve managed (with D’s help) to add lots of links as well as the photo to the blog.
By the way we felt the earthquake here, even though we’re miles away from Kent!
Edited since posting: I’ve changed the header photo several times, sometimes it shows ‘the view from here’, but sometimes it doesn’t.