I don’t know if you remember me – I used to blog. I’ve been so busy lately, however, I haven’t had a chance – well, we’ve had a couple of weeks here at Tilly Bud Towers! A bruised scapula from chasing a rabbit; a septic appendix; and a hysterical teenager. Not to mention exam results and poetry readings. I’ll break it down into diary form or it will take up a third of the page just to repeat, ‘…and on Suchaday we…’ It will probably take a couple of days to regale you – you know I can never make a long story less than Lord of the Rings length.
Saturday 9 August
In the week prior to a week-last-Saturday, First World War anniversary fever hit me hard. The Hub, Spud and I attended a candlelit walk around the park on Monday 4th, along with several hundred others, following a piper and six flag-wielding WWII veterans. A short service followed before the Last Post was played, and all candles were extinguished at eleven p.m., to signal the moment one hundred years ago when Britain began to be at war with Germany. It was incredibly moving.
I don’t know if my non-Brit readers know the story of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, but it is worth repeating:
A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week [...]. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
From Grey’s memoir, published in 1925
To commemorate the start of the war, my church held an open morning with the theme, The Lamps Are Going Out. As I was one of two people organising it, I spent the whole week working with my friend Pam The Great Administrator (she’s amazing and must only be spoken of in capital letters in my hearing) to collect artefacts, set up a slide show, arrange for costumes, rehearse poems and heavily promote the event. The last bit worked especially well because we more than quadrupled our usual Saturday morning numbers. Actually, it was even more than that, only I don’t know the correct term for ‘five times as many people came into church than is usual’.
We expected two tables of old bits on display but we had six. Some people brought a table’s worth alone, and stayed with their stuff to chat to visitors and explain the (fascinating) history.
Pam baked delicious Anzac biscuits. The children decorated glass candle holders. We had period music playing in the background. And Spud and I gave two readings of poems written between 1914-1919. The whole event was a huge success, not least because it reminded us of what was sacrificed, at home and abroad. Spud remarked to me that, as he was just eighteen, if he’d been born a hundred years ago he would probably have been off to war with all of his pals. A sobering thought.
Sunday 10 August
Church followed by Stockport Writers. It was my turn to chair. I wanted to take the August meeting so I could use the theme, The Start of the War. I hadn’t considered, three months earlier when I put down my name, that it came back-to-back with yesterday’s event and I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of Thursday night, realising that I had nothing prepared. Two hours and one irritable Molly later, it was done: I pared fictional and actual events down to their bare essentials – e.g. the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand became An angry teenager with a gun - and used them as prompts.
I had been in five minutes and had just poured boiling water into three mugs when there was a knock at the door. A neighbour had seen a runaway rabbit and called at my house because I was on the corner and therefore would probably know who it belonged to. With logic like that, it’s hard to believe we can win a raffle, never mind two world wars.
Still, I’m a sucker for a scared pie filling so I went out to help, calling for my pretty assistant the Hub to come along: animals love him and if anyone could catch it, it would be him.
Turns out anyone couldn’t catch it, including the Hub – it sat in a shrubbery patch, snaffling the carrots we used to entice it and ignoring the umbrella-thrashing we gave the bushes in an attempt to frighten it out. The last we heard, it had eloped with a runaway pig and they had set up home in Tamworth.
The poor Hub didn’t have such a lucky escape: it was raining and he slipped on some cobbles, landing flat – hard! – on his back and breaking his watch, to the amusement of those neighbours who had come out to watch us chase the rabbit but felt no need to join in. Or to help him up.
When I got him back inside, Spud was in a spin: having had a late night, he had only just got up. He came downstairs to find half-made tea, still warm; the car in the drive; the back door unlocked; but no parents. He tried calling us but our phones rang inside the house…he was creeped out like only a half-asleep teen with a vivid imagination can be. The Hub would have laughed if it hadn’t hurt so much; but he refused to go to the hospital.
Tune in again – date to be determined because the excitement is still ongoing.
Coming soon: A day trip to Wales