Last weekend I travelled to the Somme with colleagues to see hotels in Albert, and some of the surrounding museums including the Somme Trench Museum in Albert, and the Historial Grande Guerre in Peronne. After many years of reading fiction and history of this region, it was the first time I had physically been there. I think I must always have envisaged the Somme as one huge cratered flat plain, whereas actually there are gently rolling hills and stands of trees. We were ably guided by John, a former steel-worker who took a history degree as a mature student, and now lives in the area with his wife. It was a real whistle-stop tour with barely time to stop at cemeteries, but I did manage to visit the grave of James Hooper Dawson Nish in Albert (see SWM Extra), and in the distance saw High Wood, where Harold Dowdell fell, and where I was told the remains of 7,500 men lie still, unburied. Pictured here is 'Transplant' by the German artist Otto Dix, from an exhibition at the Historial, showing a casualty of the Great War. Apparently, after the War, many men wore masks in public, which were painted by artists to resemble their faces before they were injured. I was profoundly moved by many things I saw, and especially pleased to find, in the Historial bookshop, a book for which I've been searching for a long time: Krieg Dem Kriege (War Against War) by Ernst Friedrich, which I first read about in the 1980s. It will have to wait until I have time to read it carefully through - the images are too disturbing to just flick through.
Lifelong bookworm, love writing too. Have been a theatrical agent and reflexologist among other things, attitude to life summed up by Walt Whitman's MIRACLES.