Monday, 2 January 2012

Letter 12

Post-Christmas, driving, working, Dazmas, meant that again the letter writing time slipped through my fingers. Sunday arrived and I didn't even have a thought of anyone to write to. However, one of my Postcrossing cards had a return address on, so I though "ah-ha FATE" and spent a lovely hour writing to a person called Christina from Dresden, Germany.

I enjoyed the return of writing to a stranger. I explained about the 52 Weeks project and talked about Christmas and New Year. I find that by writing about things that have happened to me, I can definitely remember them better. I wish I was, but know I am not, a human google. Nothing, however, would make me forget the bed and breakfast we stayed in on New Year's Eve - Myrtle Grove -  the lady who ran it was interesting, but her dog did wee in front of us at breakfast, but she gave us a blackcurrant bush as an apology. Who can say fairer than that? I sent Christina the card, just in case she'd like to stay in Hebden Bridge one day. I also taught her the phrase "mad as a box of frogs".

This coming week, my letters are mostly going to be thank you letters - I got amazing Christmas presents. I'm going to try and make time to write a special letter too.

Lately, as a background to all the letter-writing, I've been reading two very different collections of letters. The first I found at my Mum's house on Christmas Day is called Letters from Two World Wars (you can buy it here) and aims to record all the different attitudes to war. I studied war poetry at A-Level and so many of these letters are just as affecting. I hope they are used to teach literature and history in schools now!

One that is hearbreakingly beautiful* goes:

"... when we marched done it [the thunderstorm] cleared away for a warm still summer night; still that, except for the sniper's rifles, and the rattle of machine guns ...a sweet smell of wet earth and wet grass after the rain, and since I could not sleep I wandered out among the ghostly cherry trees all in white and watched the ghostly star-shells falling north and south ... a nightingale began to sing ... it was so strange to stand there and listen, for the song seemed to come even more clearly and sweetly in the quiet intervals between the bursts of firing ... you felt that the nightingale's song were the only real thing which would remain when all the rest was long past and forgotten. It is such an old song too ... I stood there and thought of all the men and women who had listened to that song, just as ... after Tom was killed I found myself thinking perpetually of all the men who had been killed in battle - Hector and Achilles and all the heroes long ago, who were once so strong and active and are now so quiet. Gradually the night wore on, until the day began to break, and I could see clearly the daisies and buttercups in the long grass about my feet. Then I gathered my platoon together, and marched back past the silent farms to our billets. There was a beautiful sunrise and I went to sleep content ..."

I'll wrote about some more at a later date. Others are not as haunting, but no less affecting. The other collection I am reading is The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters (you can buy it here), but I'll leave discussion of that for another post ...

Happy New Year!

*p.28, written 5th May 1915 by Second Lieutenant A. D. Gillespie

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