Marilyne, on 25 March 2012 - 06:45 PM, said:
Desperatly needed something to occupy my mind today. Somebody has a miraculous cure for me? I know this has nothing to do with WWI - although ... I have more time now for my reading and visiting. This is cruel to say, I know. Just sold my horse, by beautiful Spanish mare, because of a lot of reasons ... I know it's the best for both of us, we just don't fit together (took me two years to realize) but I still feel like SH..
As an antidote to your loss I'd recommend 'Tommy's Ark' another of Richard van Emden's great titles.
I've just read this book and really enjoyed it and it was a real treat to be reading it as the weather turned warmer and one could see the changes in the natural world these soldiers remarked on, for example watching the blue-tits taking up residence, the early blossom and a general feeling of anticipation of more to come. There are echoes of Housman and the English pastoral tradition in many of the selected excerpts.
Lt Gillespie of the Argylls, sadly killed later in the war, had me flicking to the excellent bibliography to see where I could read more of his lyrical prose.
The author gives the veterans a voice and I'm full of admiration for his carefully sourced material in all his books but this volume can be read for sharing the pleasure, and frustration of working with animals and observing their habits, even when the animals (and presumably the writers) were slightly under the influence of alcohol.
We can try to understand but can never be exposed to the culture and social influences that set the values for this generation but the love of natural history and observation shines through these fragments. I was watching a TV programme last night where the relative of a man killed in urban gang warfare commented on the healing power of Nature, the same message repeated over and over by the veterans.
Another thing it brought home to was how, in reality attempts to trace an individual man's movements are probably futile. I don't think 'C.Os. cowman' or 'officers mole catcher' appeared anywhere in Battalion Orders but certainly the soldiers concerned seem to have relished the job and took it very seriously!
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