In our house are many bookshelves, and books waiting to be read, and included in these are ones that have waited patiently for many years. One of these was Land of My Fathers, the passionate and partisan overview by the late Gwynfor Evans of 2,000 years of Welsh history. This edition, published in 1974, holds special significance for our family, as my late father-in-law, who worked as a printer at Gwasg John Penry in Swansea, actually typeset both it and its original version in Welsh (Aros Mae). Dycu was a fluent Welsh-speaker who occasionally quoted Welsh poetry to me, (with translation) hoping to convey the beauty and lyricism on his language to me.
Gwynfor Evans was in turn Vice-President, President and Honorary President of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh national party, and the establishment of the Welsh speaking TV channel S4C is attributed to his threat to go on hunger-strike, forcing Margaret Thatcher to make good on the Conservatives’ manifesto promise which they were keen to renege on.
I married a Welshman in 1980, and spent many happy times in the years since visiting family and friends in South Wales, where I have always been received with the warmest hospitality. As a reader, over the years, I’ve read short stories, novels, poems about Wales, the Mabinogion, some 20th century history, seen plays, enjoyed seeing the wonderful Max Boyce live, listening to Welsh music, etc, but Evans’ book has been a real eye-opener for me about the illustrious and unique spiritual, cultural and social history of Wales, its people and its language. I have felt both deeply sad and very angry sometimes at learning of the damage done to them by what Evans terms (and I must say, I can only agree) English imperialism. I have also been moved by the beauty of the poetry quoted.The book consists of 453 pages, and is written accessibly for the lay reader - Evans was not an academic, but a lawyer and MP, so he quotes from Welsh historians whose work has informed him. There’s a great deal of ground covered, and I feel stimulated to go on to read more deeply and widely. I am also hoping to enrol to learn (a long-held ambition) the Welsh language - . It has survived against all odds in Wales, given the onslaught of English policies, and since devolution, efforts have increased to support it, but it sadly has a long way to go to come anywhere near the level in the mid 19th Century (before the advent of the Welsh Not), when 90% of the population was Welsh-speaking.
When we moved out of London in the 1980s and bought a cottage in a Sussex village, we planned to grow organic vegetables in the large area of rough grass at the back. This overgrown garden had many years previously been a market garden, containing two old apple trees (Jubilee variety, perhaps planted for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee), and the earth was a lovely dark loam. My husband did most of the design, laying out and upkeep, but I assisted with digging, weeding, growing and transplanting seedlings, slugging etc. We had a very large area, growing a wide range of crops, from beetroot to sweet corn, broccoli to potatoes, saladings, courgettes etc.
After decades of cultivation, there wasn’t any treasure left to discover (it had at one time been the site of a mediaeval fair, I believe, so past gardeners may have turned over some interesting coins while digging), but during our ten years there, we did find a few tiny dolls’ heads, game counters, pieces of clay pipes, etc, even a bullet case, which may, who knows, have dropped from the skies during the Battle of Britain?
Towards the end of our time at the cottage, on an afternoon when I felt very low in spirits and in need of some sign from the God of my understanding that, essentially, all was well, and all would be well, I sent up a silent but heartfelt prayer while digging over a bed right at the bottom of the garden. The very next spadeful turned up a tiny china dove.
I cherish it still.
When we first published my book Southborough War Memorial through Odd Dog Press we had a modest print run, and when this was sold out, there didn’t seem to be a case for a further re-print, though we did subsequently produce a Kindle version. Fortunately, with the advent of print on demand, we are able to publish a revised version, with some extra material I’ve been sent by relatives since the first edition in 2009. I’m particularly pleased to include a photograph of George Furey, a Newfoundlander whose tremendous act of courage went largely unrecognised, apart from by those who witnessed it or whose lives he saved in December 1942.
A book which lists as much detail as I could find in my research on the two hundred and fifty-five listed on the local war memorial in our small town must, by its nature, be a niche offering, and yet, if you read through it, you would, in an oblique way, be absorbing a universal story - of the effects of war on any community. There were those who died of battle wounds, certainly, but also others who died in accidents while training or on active service, of influenza, or of drowning. Many left families behind to struggle with grief and poverty, some hadn’t had time to outgrow their teens, and there were those who died after the war’s end as a result of their experiences.
I have a page on my website for those not commemorated, and for those wounded. Of course, the wounds of war are not always visible, and we know that there were many who were irrevocably affected by war trauma, tucked away in mental hospitals, out of sight, to end their days.
This book is a small contribution to recording the effects of war; it was a labour of love that brought it to fruition, and I am personally happy it is no longer out of print. I was recently contacted by the grandson of a First World War casualty, whose descendants are planning to gather at his grave on the one hundredth anniversary of his death. My hope is that public commemorations taking place this year of deaths which occurred a century ago will, for many of us, serve not as jingoistic celebrations of Britain’s long-past empire, but for the opportunity to reflect on those suffering in wars both in 1918, 2018, and every season in between.
I believe there is a Chinese proverb that goes something like ‘May you not have sons in times of war’. Indeed. Though today of course this may extend to daughters.
The father of Harold Dowdell (commemorated on Southborough War Memorial and on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme) wrote in his diary on hearing of his son’s death in 1916:
Echoes and shadows in the home. I am not stunned but overwhelmed. My dear brave loving cheerful, thoughtful boy.
and two years later, when he lost a second son, Ernie, at Arras in April 1918:
With aching heart I reached home in afternoon. My desolate home.
Click here for online ordering.
I shed a few tears yesterday. My husband, who placed my wedding ring on my finger almost 38 years ago as we made our wedding vows at Capel Kings Cross, had to cut it off with a pair of wire-cutters. Happily for me this was followed by a reassuring loving hug.
My mother, at 94 years old, still has delicate thin fingers, but I seem to have inherited my father’s gene in respect of a tendency to swollen joints, and my ring-finger was becoming increasingly troublesome. Although it was swollen, and there would likely never now be any possibility of slipping the ring over the middle joint, I had hoped there would not be a need, but when I woke yesterday morning with a very sore finger I knew the ring had to be removed. Perhaps the cold weather had made it worse, I don’t know, but after an unsuccessful attempt at a method for getting rings off found on you-tube, Martin fetched his tool-box.
Mum gave me the ring when I was a teenager. She had worn it since 1944, when she and Dad were married, and he had bought her a new ring for their 25th Wedding Anniversary. They bought it at Woolworths, and it had been decorated with orange-flower leaves, she told me, but they had worn down somewhat, and now, after almost 50 years of my wearing it daily, have completely disappeared.
I believe that our marriage is, of course, only symbolised by the wedding ring, but nonetheless, and I’m sure I share this with many others, there’s something distressing about cutting it off my hand. In due course perhaps I will take it to a jewellers and have it soldered so that I can at least wear it on a chain round my neck.
We all know that when we pass out of this life we can’t take anything material with us, but we all cherish certain items we deem precious and meaningful. We have a number of family heirlooms, not valuable in monetary terms, but which give a kind of continuity, of heritage: my father-in-law’s football trophy, my son’s first Clarks shoes, my Nanna’s kitchen-tongs (still in almost daily use!).
How painful it must be for the many dispossessed, fleeing from war, terror, desperate want, who can’t take these things with them. I often think of my late friend Max, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, and who came to Britain on a Kindertransport. He had to make a new life here, and had virtually no mementoes of his loved ones. But at least he was given sanctuary - which sadly is no longer on offer in Britain today to so many who need it.
I’ve voted Labour all my life, except for a period after Tony Blair led us into war on Iraq, and even then, could not have voted Conservative. We watched the news as a family when I was young, and I have a clear memory of the Labour politicians of my youth: Harold Wilson, Barbara Castle, Dennis Healey (I bumped into him once on Charing Cross Road and he gave me a lovely twinkly smile from beneath those bushy eyebrows). They were the bright young things when Clem Attlee was Prime Minister, and although I knew his name, I was sadly unaware of the extent of this man’s huge contribution to the quality of life for British people over the last 70 years. After reading Francis Beckett’s beautifully written and accessible biography of the man, I feel better informed.
Clem Attlee was a small, quiet man, from a middle-class background. He was educated at Haileybury, a boarding school, and Oxford, following his father into a law practice. Had it not been for some voluntary work he undertook in the East End of London, this ex-Major, who saw active service in the First World War (he was the last but one soldier to leave Gallipoli when it was evacuated), might have lived an altogether different life.
One evening in 1906, Attlee went along with his brother on a visit to a youth club in Durham Road, Stepney. Haileybury House had been built by old boys of their former school who had decided, in 1890, to do something to help clergy active in the working-class areas of the big cities. One of the growing influences leading to this work was a pamphlet published by the Revd Andrew Mearns in 1883 - The Bitter Cry of Outcast London: An Inquiry into the Condition of the Abject Poor.
A shy young man, Attlee found the evening uncomfortable, but he learned enough to want to come again - the start of a process which opened his eyes to the appalling conditions suffered by those less fortunate than the prosperous Edwardian middle and upper classes, and the real meaning of poverty. His involvement increased from that night on - he felt for the first time in his life he was doing something with a purpose. He realised, as Andrew Mearns had written, that only large-scale action by the state could have any serious impact - unless society was organised so as to eliminate it, the wretchedness he saw around him would continue for ever.
By 1907, Attlee was a socialist, and he began his political career as a member of the Stepney branch of the Independent Labour Party. He very quickly took on the onerous and painstaking duties of branch secretary, giving his time and skills unstintingly. His closeness and work with the ordinary East End people and orderly upward progress through the rank and file of the local Labour group gave him an invaluable insight into their real problems, aims and ambitions. As Beckett relates:
'He took on all the humble, time-consuming jobs which have to be done, and which ambitious politicians generally consider are for lesser mortals, because, like Jim Callaghan, Clem Attlee liked all that. He cut up loaves to feed dockers' children during the 1911 dock strike, and stood at the bottom of Petticoat Lane with his brother Tom holding collecting boxes during the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union strike in 1913. He carried the Stepney Independent Labour Party branch banner on demonstrations through Central London. He went to court to plead mitigation when a half-starving boy was caught thieving.'
Beckett’s book outlines the life of a man who dedicated himself to working, for 16 hours a day for 45 years or so, for the good of the many, not the few. He became Mayor of Stepney, then its MP in 1922, a junior minister in Labour governments in the 20s and 30s, and party leader in 1935.
Attlee's commitment to realising his ambition of bringing about fundamental changes for the working-classes achieved, with his fellow Labour party workers, the radical creation of what we benefit from today. Most people of my generation (born in the 1950s) and those since have no knowledge or experience of what life was like before the welfare state - we’ve taken it for granted.
He was in many ways, a very unusual man. He led a quiet and modest home life, dedicated to his wife and children, never ‘taking work home’ to his family. He liked mending things in his spare time. He never read the papers or watched television. He worked steadily towards his aims, not swayed by the opinion of others. He was not a pacifist, though his older brother Tom was a conscientious objector, but had been appalled by the waste of life he witnessed in the Great War, and was a passionate supporter of the League of Nations and later the United Nations. His early experience of social work contributed to his writing The Social Worker,and teaching the subject at the LSE. He had very definite views about charity: he thought that if a rich man wanted to help the poor, he should pay his taxes willingly, not dole out money at whim. He wrote:
Charity ‘tends to make the charitable think that he has done his duty by giving away some trifling sum, his conscience is put to sleep and he takes no trouble to consider the social problem any further’.
Attlee served in Churchill's coalition government as Deputy Prime Minister during the Second World War, effectively running the country while Churchill concentrated on the business of fighting the war. Attlee was a staunch patriot, but once the war was over, he had an iron resolve to ensure that, unlike the aftermath of the First World War, when so many were thrown onto the streets, this time the opportunity to effect real change in the social welfare of the majority of the British people would not be lost. After the war, Attlee led the most influential reforming government of the last century, implementing the recommendations of the Beveridge Report, establishing the NHS and nationalising a fifth of the UK economy including the coal mining and steel industries.
There are many similarities between Clem Attlee and Jeremy Corbyn - both suffered/suffer at the hands of the media - in Attlee's case, the rich owners of large-circulation newspapers. Both had to contend with members of their own party complaining that they weren't leadership material, and regularly plotting to replace them. The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the saying goes!
I believe that if Clem Attlee was alive today, he would be horrified at the way his life's work has been steadily undermined in the intervening years, a process begun during the Margaret Thatcher years, of course, and now being greatly accelerated.
If you need just one out of many reference points from a welter of current revelations about how the welfare state and NHS are being relentlessly deconstructed, please read this article about the Naylor report, about which many of us had been ignorant until this week!
If you have more time available, and I can promise you, it will be very worthwhile reading it, I highly recommend you read Francis Beckett's book. Towards the end of it, there is a little story of an incident, near the end of Attlee's life, which illustrates his modesty and humility. In 1912, the London School of Economics initiated took over a small School of Sociology, and Attlee was appointed its very first lecturer. In 1962:
'The LSE's Social Administration Department, where he had once taught, sent round a standard invitation to all of its former staff to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The organisers thought that the early staff members had died, but just as the platform was settling down in the Shaw Library, someone noticed a small, elderly man arriving inconspicuously and taking a seat at the back. Bernard Crick remembers: 'One of the platform party ran to the back in embarrassment to apologise and try to persuade him to come up to the front. He refused, or rather demurred. The audience, as he was recognised, rose to its feet and applauded. Only then would he join the platform. Afterwards they asked when his car was coming. "No car, came from Kings Cross on the 68 bus. A very reliable route." They had great difficulty persuading him to take a lift back.'
When I saw that Professor Iain Hutchison was giving a talk on his work with Saving Faces at Hall Place (where there was also an exhibition on the related subject of Faces of the Great War) I realised that to go and hear him would mean taking a day off work. It was well worth it.
Professor Hutchison specialises in diseases and injuries affecting the face. He is based at the historic St Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Royal London Hospital. He spoke of the relationship between art and medicine, mentioning Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo amongst artists who made representations of the anatomy of the human body, and also spoke of William Hogarth, whose murals of The Pool of Bethesda can be seen in the Great Hall at Bart’s Hospital.
The professor related some of the history of surgeons who worked on restoring faces ravaged by injury or disease, including:
Professor Hutchison was brought up by two refugees: his mother and aunt, both Viennese Jewish doctors whose father was also a doctor. They fled from the Nazis in the late 1930s, were taken in by Quakers, and worked at the beginning of the Second World War as chambermaids, initially in Tunbridge Wells. After the war they set up as GPs in the Midlands. When the Professor’s mother, Dr. Martha Redlich, died, he set up a charity in her name, initially used to purchase occasional pieces of surgical equipment. However, by 1995 he decided to use her legacy to create something in the spirit of the work done by Harold Gillies and Henry Tonks. In 1998 he established the Saving Faces Art Project, employing Mark Gilbert as artist-in-residence within his surgical department.
Their shared aim was to help bring about acceptance of changed faces not only by patients themselves, but also by members of the public. The belief that people could find a painting of such damaged faces much less shocking than photographs, was borne out by members of our audience, who looked away from coloured photographs projected onto a screen in front of us. Mark Gilbert’s practice, which included taking a selection of photographs of operations, was also to ask patients if they would be willing to sit for portraits before and after their operations. The sitters, Professor Hutchison told us, were proud of these paintings, and wanted them shown to others. They must have had a profound effect on visitors to a travelling exhibition of 100 portraits. One person wrote 6 pages of comment in the visitors’ book, and another wrote “Testino showed the beautiful people, but these are the really beautiful people”.
The professor told us that in his experience, returning to normal life is what people want. The late actress Sheila Gish returned to the stage in The Seagull just six weeks after surgery, having lost bones of her face and an eye to melanoma. Courage indeed.
Professor Hutchison wants to raise four x £5m to endow four professors to lead the Centre’s work into the future. Saving Faces will control (and protect) their funding, not the hospital. JK Rowling has already promised to match £1m donation if it can be raised. One of the fellowships will, he hopes, be named for Alan Rickman, who was a patron.
If any readers of this blog can help with crowdfunding, he would be glad to hear from them.
Interestingly, Hall Place was the birthplace of another surgeon, Julius Jeffreys, who may well, I like to think, have crossed paths with my great-great-grandparents, John Howard Wakefield and his wife Maria Suffolk.
Hogarth Murals at Barts
Surgeon Julius Jeffreys
John Howard Wakefield & Maria Suffolk
Over the last year or two I've read a number of non-fiction books* on corruption, and the influence of the rich and powerful, in Africa, Italy, Britain and Russia. The more I read, the firmer my conviction grows that the rise to power of Trump in US and the Brexit 'win' in UK are a giant confidence trick. It's pitiful that people have been conned into believing that this so-called "populist uprising" makes a stand for the disadvantaged, the marginalised, the 'working people'. I believe that both of these results have been manipulated by the corrupt, rich, powerful elites in order to undermine liberal democratic structures which constrain their avarice. 29 March is a sad day for human rights and democracy.
* Suggested reading on the subject of the pursuit and maintaining of excessive wealth and power and its consequences:
Putin's Russia by Anna Politkovskaya
The State of Africa by Martin Meredith
A Death in Brazil by Peter Robb
Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb
The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J Evans
The Great Hunger - Ireland 1845-1849 by Cecil Woodham-Smith
Who Owns Britain (The Hidden Facts Behind Landownership in the UK & Ireland) by Kevin Cahill
Readers of this blog and my book will know that I have an abiding interest in the lives of those who fought in the Great War. One particular aspect which has always aroused my deep compassion is the fate of those who survived, but were badly disfigured. Some lived as recluses for the rest of their lives, and others braved the looks of horror they encountered when venturing out in public.
There is a historic relationship between those injured and the skill, not only of surgical teams, but of artists too. The German artist Otto Dix was one of those who portrayed the unpalatable face of war that, while disturbing, allows us to look at an image which, in a photograph, is so much starker.
I have a copy of Ernst Friedrich's 1924 anti-war book Krieg dem Kriege. I have actually stuck a post-it note on the fly-leaf, inscribed 'Warning! Contains very graphic images', and I keep it on a high shelf as I would not want little ones to come across it while exploring our bookshelves. The photographs are shocking. It was Friedrich’s aim to bring to readers' attention the true cost of war. The only other place I’ve seen images like this is at the tatty profit-making private exhibition next to a cafe near Ypres, behind which is a wood including what is claimed to be an original trench system. It has made a fortune for its owners, and is abhorred by the local museums, although some teachers leading trips prefer it, feeling it shows pupils something the others have sanitised.
I recently visited the Faces of the Great War exhibition at Hall Place in Bexley, Kent (and heard there a talk on a related subject: blog to follow). The exhibition told the story of the pioneers of plastic surgery in Britain from the point of view of the medical staff led by New-Zealand born surgeon Harold Gillies and their patients, based at the Queen Mary Military Hospital in Sidcup, which opened in 1917. Gillies, who moved here from the Cambridge Military Hospital , was inspired by the pioneering skin graft French surgeon Hippolyte Morstin, and in the next World War, Gillies' cousin Archibald McIndoe went on to reconstruct the faces of badly burnt airmen at East Grinstead.
Gillies recruited leading artists, including Henry Tonks and sculptor Kathleen Scott, widow of Scott of the Antarctic, to help in the work of rebuilding the ruined faces of the severely-wounded. More than 5,000 wounded men from Britain and its Empire came to Sidcup, and more than 11,000 operations were carried out.
Henry Tonks, a trained surgeon himself, went on to become a celebrated Professor at the Slade School of Art. Gillies asked him to make a record of men's facial injuries which could be referenced for operations and subsequent recovery. Tonks chose to work in pastels, as it was a quick medium that could be easily blended with the finger, and he wanted the men to sit for the shortest time possible. Today, these pastels can be viewed, upon request, at the Hunterian Museum in London. A number had been loaned to Hall Place, and they were displayed in a curtained-off section, again with a warning that the images might disturb. If today, with all we can see on the media, this notice is still considered necessary, how much harder it must have been for those with disfigurements to step out from the safety of their hospital wards or homes.
I found these portraits, accompanied by biographical detail, very touching. They included the following:
Private Robert Davidson, RAMC Orderly, was wounded in April 2016. He was initially reluctant to mix with his fellow patients, but after his discharge in 1919 he continued to work at the Queen Mary Hospital in Sidcup until the 1960s, having married Sidcup resident Alice Wise.
Private George J Stone, 1st Newfoundland Regiment, suffered a gunshot wound to the upper lip in France on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, aged 21. He contracted a severe infection six weeks after wounding, so his first operation was delayed until three months after the initial injury. He underwent six operations at the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot and at Queen's Hospital, Sidcup. By August 1918, Private Stone declined any further treatment for facial injury, and returned home to Bell Island, off Newfoundland, to work as a machinist.
Private S Gardiner, a 35 year old New Zealander serving with the 7th Canterbury Regiment, suffered a gunshot wound on the First Day of the Somme which fractured his jaw. He underwent three operations, and ten months after his injury, surgeons tried to graft bone to bridge the gap in his jawbone. Because he lacked teeth, the wound didn't heal properly, and the graft was removed. In 1950, Gardiner returned to visit Gillies in the UK, reporting that six of his seven sons had served in the Second World War, all returning to NZ with their jaws intact.
Sadly, Lieutenant Dudley Grinlington, of the 48th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, did not fare so well. He was admitted to the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot, in August 1916 after a gunshot wound to his left cheek nine days earlier. Discharged in March 1917, he returned to active service and was killed in action on 17 October during the Battle of Passchendaele. Having been shot in the knee, he perished, in the same casualty clearing station he had passed through a year earlier. He is buried in Nine Elms Military Cemetery, near Poperinghe.
The exhibition was curated with a sure, light touch - not overwhelming or overstuffed. I was glad to see and learn of some new things, among them:
The GRI Silver badge, first issued in 1916, was worn by those not able to fight: discharged owing to wounds, ill-health, or had reached the age of 51. Hopefully these helped to fend off the advances of the white-feather brigade...
Steel helmets were not standard issue to soldiers until 1916; before that they had soft caps.
Blue benches were provided along the road from St Mary's hospital to the village of Sidcup exclusively for recovering patients to sit on when out for a walk, which could be avoided, presumably, by more squeamish local residents (though many treated the soldiers with great kindness).
Ironically, the MG08 machine-gun, which could fire up to 400 rounds per minute, and was used by the German Army in WW1, was an adaptation of Hiram Maxim's original 1884 Maxim Gun, manufactured in Crayford (6 miles from Queen Mary's Hospital) by Vickers at the time when Maxim was resident in Bexley.
Krieg dem Kriege: Ernst Friedrich - Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munchen (reprinted 2004)
My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young (grand-daughter of Kathleen Scott)
A wonderful novel which I also learnt from.
War, Art & Surgery: The Work of Henry Tonks and Julia Midgley (Ed. Samuel JMM Alberti, Royal College of Surgeons, 2014)
The Tonks Pastels (Please note: graphic images)
Otto Dix - article with images from The Guardian
Vickers Factory, Crayford
I spent three jam-packed days last week visiting coach companies in Cumbria, Northumbria, Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire. As a southerner who has rarely ventured north, and a deeply curious person, I found it frustrating to have to drive past such tantalising sights as the sign for the village near Kendal which is the home of my Quaker ancestors, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Fountains Abbey, the Angel of the North and the beautiful Beverley Minster. One day I would like to do a tour of the great Cathedrals and ruined abbeys of Britain - Ely, Peterborough, Lincoln, Norwich etc.
I could not, however, forgo the opportunity, however brief, of driving alongside a mile or so of Hadrian’s Wall - longed-for sight since my early childhood. It didn’t disappoint! I stopped for five minutes at Birdoswald Fort (more of a butterfly kiss than a long embrace) and stood, exhilarated, facing into a fierce westerly, thinking of WH Auden’s wonderful poem, Roman Wall Blues. If you don’t know it:
Over the heather the wet wind blows,
I’ve lice in my tunic, a cold in my nose.
The rain comes pattering out of the sky,
I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.
The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,
My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.
Aulus goes hanging around her place,
I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his face.
Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish;
There’d be be no kissing if he had his wish.
She gave me a ring but I diced it away;
I want my girl and I want my pay.
When I’m a veteran with only one eye
I shall do nothing but look at the sky.
I also relished the chance later that day to drive over the Humber Bridge.
“This is the first time I’ve driven over the Humber. I’m quite excited!” I told the nice lady at the toll booth, as I handed her my £1.50.
“Oh, well, enjoy the bridge!” was her friendly reply.
I’m grateful that at 60, I can still feel the wonder and excitement of a child at times like this. Life is good!
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.