For the Soldier Who Came Back injured
Have some medicine for the scars that can’t be seen, get the spoon out, drink it, feel better.
Go to bed with a hot water bottle and a scotch and water.
We want to help you get back to normal –
with hot baths, support and reassurance.
We will listen to you, let you talk, have a pint with friends,
friendship to heal the soul.
When my uncle came back so changed Auntie Lottie
threatened to divorce him. Instead she gave him
the full English: bacon, black pudding, beans,
sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs, fried bread,
and toast and tea and coffee.
We’d get them to go to the shed,
clean those tools.
Solace and activity –
take the weeds out with David,
wood-stain and paint with Peter,
grow dill, parsley and mint,
brush up with Alison when we find the brush.
Or go to Blackpool with Debbie.
and listen to the gramophone
under the Big Dipper.
It’s a long way to Tipperary.
My grandmother would say
“what do you want for pudding?”
then go to the garden
and come back with fresh rhubarb
to go with custard, ready in minutes.
Grow those courgettes and carrots,
roses and lavender.
Let’s all go together
on Great Homer Street.
Thanks to Debbie Heaps, David Henderson, Peter Thomas, Alison Kelly, Gaynor Thomas and Sheila, Karen and David at the Stockbridge Village Resource Centre from our visit on 20th January.
It was good to take 10 exhibits to the Mossley Hill Writing Group at Mersey Care NHS Trust on 12th January at their regular weekly meeting as they did a project last year on the War at Home and were particularly interested in the role of the General Post Office in delivering millions of letters to the Front each week, as well as the changing role of women shown through the war work of women.
The week ended with a visit to the Walton History Group at Walton Library. It was very good to read and discuss some of our exhibition items with them as they are a lively and informed group whose members have a passion for history.
On 20th January I took some pieces from the exhibition to Stockbridge Village Resource Centre and we worked together on a group poem.
One Picture – One Line (Off the Page)
At our drop-in advice session for 100 Pictures – 100 Pages at the Off the Page Festival (on 18th October) we asked visitors to write one line about the above photograph and we have put those lines together to create a group poem.
That’s a big spud!
But it’s not a bit as good as me Mam’s scouse.
Even death does not kill the appetite
of hungry men though this meal is not hearty.
We shovel our food down before it gets cold
at least we’re together in the mud,
friends at this moment
away from the horror,
away from the madness of the battlefield.
We eat war leftovers.
Appetite for life has not left me.
Look Mam, plenty of grub,
the scarf you knitted does the three of us.
(I want to tell me pals that it doesn’t taste
like ma Mam’s, how I miss her.)
None of us married we’re just kids
pretending to be men,
missing our families like hell.
When evening comes
we kill the light.
How many years of mud and mash,
eh, Archie? I’ll volunteer to do the washing up.
A moment of happiness
in unhappy times.
We’re much misunderstood
in our brotherhood.
Many thanks to contributors: Eddie Bundred, Philip Carter, Peter de Lane, Suzanne Dowse, Tom Edwards, Clare Farrell, Helen Farrell, Rose Hughes, Karl Jane, Louis Kennedy, Rea Maloney, Irene Stuart, Graham Scott, Alan Thomas, Amandine Vincent
Stockbridge Village Resource Centre workshop 26th August 10.30 am – 2.00 pm
What a wonderful workshop today with the “Stockbridge Tuesdays” – some lovely people who are regular service users at the Stockbridge Village Resource Centre. We started our workshop at 10.30 am with a discussion about the meaning of the poppy and our shared knowledge of the First World War with some truly inspiring ideas and knowledge about life 100 years ago. We also sang some of those old songs that we seem to know without knowing how we learned them – It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Keep the Home Fires Burning – and explored how we could use our senses to evoke our own experiences. We talked about the importance of music in our own lives including favourite artists and songs. We thought about the entertainment on offer a century ago through family get-togethers, the music hall, theatre and the early days of the cinema. This helped us to imagine the different world back then, its innocence, its simpler communications. No TV or radio! We talked of morse code and military communications, the importance of letters and post-cards but most importantly that essential gift of love which is such an important driving force for memory, remembrance and respect. We considered lots of images from the war and read and reflected on the poems Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (for link, see: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/239742 ) and MCMXIV by Philip Larkin (for link, see http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/mcmxiv/ ) through which we imagined those days of innocence – as Larkin says – “never such innocence again.”
After a break for lunch we all pooled our ideas about 1914 and some of our responses through our senses and emotional memories associated with touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. The afternoon session resulted in an inspiring group poem:
How Shall We Extol Thee?
Years ago the Shire horses took beer from the breweries to the pubs,
clip-clop, clip-clop, clipperty-clop, clipperty-clop, clip-clop
and the horses ploughed all the fields.
Monday morning women carrying bundles on their heads
to old shops, pawn shops, sweet shops, toy shops,
bakers, butchers, bread-man, milk-man, coal-man, post-man.
Itchy, poppy-coloured, sour-smelling carbolic, washing with our hands,
turning the mangle-handle, watch your fingers!
Beggar-man, thief, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man, rabbit pie;
and we all made a rush for the door
my old man fainted on the chair and
we all fell on the floor – bish, bang, wallop
dripping butties and bovril.
Coal on the coal man’s back, he empties the coal
down the cellar, black and rumbling, muck everywhere.
“Peter, you’re awful careless – where do you put your money?”
Remembrance is the home fires, burning, marching,
songs around the piano, soldiers, playing the spoons,
writing letters, putting your arms around each other, a kiss.
Remembrance is respect and hope, the Armistice,
friendship, how we show love.
We think of them with sadness, pride and thankfulness.
We all have someone we miss in our lives.
Before our afternoon session closed we shared a minute’s silence in remembrance for those who sacrificed their lives in the terrible wars and those who we have loved who are no longer with us. We then had a great sing-song, finishing with a chorus of When this lousy war is over – and some very helpful feedback for me about what everyone thought about the session.
Many thanks to everyone at Stockbridge Village Resource Centre including staff June Jenkins, Karen Stockdale and Sheila Dunk and today’s workshop poets: David Henderson, Debbie Heaps, Alison Kelly, Lee Marsden, Elizabeth Poston, David Roderick, Marie Shaw, Christina Sullivan, John Taylor, Peter Thomas.
Thanks too to Susan Comer who made the workshop possible.
(The poem is also item 16 in our Poetry section with the image everyone felt fitting.)
We held 4 community workshops in Tuebrook on 23rd July, 25th July, 30th July and 6th August when we looked at a variety of the issues including postal services, conscription, conscientious objection, letter writing and censorship. It is remarkable that every week upto 12 million letters were delivered by the General Post Office, which was then the largest employer in Great Britain – equivalent to the NHS today. We welcomed 23 local people to these workshops at the Hope Centre on Buckingham Road – and look forward to linking up with many new friends through our outreach workshops.
Project launch workshop
When we did our inaugural event on 9th July we were inspired Louisa Young’s book My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You (Harper Collins, 2011) to write our own post-cards to inspired by World War 1 images and some of them are posted below.
My Dear Aunt Julia,
I wanted to tell you that our four eldest lads have just joined up to fight for their country. Tom and I are both very proud although it will be hard to keep the bakery going with just little Eddie to help us. It has been put to us that some of the local girls might be taken on but that seems a strange idea to me. They say the war will soon be over so we might just wait until the boys are back. They will need their jobs when they return.
Your niece Tricia Hagan
My Dear Daddy,
I wanted to tell you Mummy cries a lot since you left. She don’t do horsey right and Granpa smells funny. I wish you was home Daddy.
x I miss you
x I Love you lots x x x
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Jimmy Julia Price
My Dear Sandra,
I wanted to tell you that it is my first day with the Women’s Land Army and the dazzling hot sunshine, out on farmland, is too hot for my fair skin but I have no choice other than to stick at it picking potatoes! All the farm labourers have had to go off to fight in the war. I watched some butterflies today on the farm. I look forward to seeing you San.
Lots of love, God Bless!
Jan Janet McAdam
War Horse maquette (from Romsey War Horse project
My Dear Da,
I wanted to tell you they’ve given me charge of a horse. A French horse. I’ve called him Pete. There’s only building trenches here, and me a bricklayer. The horse has big sad eyes.
Edward Peter de Lane
My Dear Bill,
I wanted to tell you that I didn’t want you to go but I know that if you hadn’t you would have been branded a coward scum of the earth. Nevertheless, this woman doesn’t say go!
Your loving wife,
Sara Anne Walsh
My Dear Bert,
I wanted to tell you that I am doing my bit for the war effort. Me and Nora are working in the munitions factory making shells to kill the hun. The hours are long but we have a laugh. I hope you are keeping your head down, I want you home soon. The kids are missing you and send their love,
Your loving wife,
Dolly xx Irene Stuart
I wanted to tell you. Let’s not forget the women.
For the part they played.
J John B
My Dear Daughter,
I wanted to tell you I am fine. Do not worry about me. Aunt Maureen has been injured and has been sent to a hospital in England. When I am home in a few weeks I will travel to see her. This war will not last much longer. Uncle Tommy has written to me. He was injured and sent to convalesce in Croxteth Hall. I do not know if he is still there as the letter is dated June 1915.
My Dear Mum,
I wanted to tell you, as you can see from this picture I am doing OK, still ducking the hun. My feet are still warm from the socks that you sent, to protect me from the mud (on the Somme). I’ll still wear them through so keep sending the socks and I’ll see this war done.
Your son x Steve McCormick
My Dear Beryl,
I wanted to tell you that war is over and I am coming home. I’ve got our Ben a Jerry’s helmet and Ethel some hankies. For you I’ve got my heart and a trench art lighter. I’m looking forward to seeing you all and getting rid of this cough and headache.
All my love,
George Graham Scott
Workshops open to anyone interested who is over 18 will be available in July and August as follows:
At the Buckingham Road Christ Church Centre, Tuebrook:Wed 9th July 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm Wed 23rd July 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm Fri 25th July 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm Wed 30th July 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm Wed 6th August 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Events and information for younger people (ages 11 – 17) will also be available in September. Information will be posted here.