Well, it’s been a funny old summer so far, hasn’t it? There have been moments when it’s all seemed OK and I’ve felt incredibly lucky and other times when I’ve felt cheated by this bloomin’ virus. I know that living in the wonderful county of Derbyshire I have no reason to complain but last night, as I poured myself a Friday night wine, I looked at my diary for the weekend and felt.. to be honest…a bit p’d off.
All the things I would normally do, seeing friends, going to eat out, going shopping these days seem to be fraught with difficulties. My bag seems to breed masks- they’re a bit like the little fold-up shopping bags I carry- I keep popping another one in, just in case. There are little plastic containers of hand sanitiser everywhere but, like my reading glasses, never where I want them so I overbuy them, creating a plastic nightmare for the planet. I think maybe we could go and sit outside at a pub or restaurant but then it rains. I suggest a Zoom gathering but everyone moans.
OK, I re-filled the wine glass- always a mistake- and went and sat in the garden, trying to concentrate on the lovely birds that don’t care about Covid and on the garden table was the little pocket envelope my friend and her sister-in-law had brought round that afternoon when we had had a socially-distanced cup of tea.
I opened it up to find the six diaries that they had brought round for me as part of my research for my third book ( watch out for the next blog on this) which is about a Land Army girl. My friend’s mother-in-law had been one of these agricultural heroines and, amazingly, had kept diaries. They are a wonderful testament to an era of incredibly hard work, the acquisition of amazing skills and a couple of fingers up to the men who said women couldn’t do manual farm labour.
I turned to 3rd September, 1939.
‘War declared at 11.15. Spent day at school with women and children.
5th Sept: Hair? Boys a bit naughty. Take gas mask everywhere.
6th Sept: Germans bombed east coast otherwise very quiet ‘
And so it goes on- matter-of-fact. No angsting, no ‘how badly done to am I?’ No feeling sorry for oneself.
I closed the diary and closed my eyes, I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself. These young people had their whole lives turned upside down for a whole six years. They were bombed, frightened, nearly starved, deprived of any luxuries and in some cases, killed.
I have an empty diary. I think I can cope.
Hi Shirley the Milford Book Group loved chatting to you about Lily ‘s War on November10th. We all enjoyed reading the book and found many parallels with our own parents wartime experiences. I particularly found the little details of communal life ,coping with shared austere living and supportive friendship fascinating. I will definitely be reading more of your books.
Well done ,on a great new career from one “oldie” to another.
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It was so lovely chatting to you all. I love doing Zoom book groups and hearing how people relate to my books and I thought our discussions about how young children who are coping with Covid are beginning to look differently at war and what their grandparents went through. thank you so much for asking me.