What happened next?

I have referred to the Archaeologist on several occasions in this blog. One of his many notable characteristics is his extraordinarily wide range of interests and the depth of his knowledge in those areas.  A conversation with him may start with the foot diseases suffered by Horatio Nelson, continue with a description of the accommodation offered to Charles Darwin when the Beagle stopped in some obscure South American port, divert to the seventeen culinary uses of the petunia during the War of Jenkin’s Ear, segue to the reasons why Archbishops of York always wear flax gloves during the second week after Passover and end with ice cream. Or rather who invented it. You get the idea.

So it really wasn’t difficult to say ‘What about a guest post?’ Here it is.

1914 postcard front1914 postcard backThose of you who have read my brother’s writings will know something of me and of our childhood, and, I must admit, some of what he has said is true. I do have a good memory, or at least that is what I am told since people seem surprised at what I can remember, and I do like looking around for unusual objects (weird is the word my brother used). I particularly like things that can give a real link to the past, and it is one of these, that has suggested the topic for my first guest post on my brother’s site. It is a postcard, slightly tatty and would be of no particular interest if it were not for the postmark, it was posted exactly 100 years ago, at 11.30 on the morning of August 4, 1914.

The card, addressed to Miss Parry Jones of Brighton, reads;

Shn [Southampton] 3-8-14

I just received yr letter. I have a day off tomorrow fixed, all boats are suspended to Brighton here but I can go to Southsea but cannot easily[?] land there as [the] pier has been taken down there to make room for guns! Shall arrive at Southsea, at 1.30 can you meet me there? Shall leave here at 11.10 wire reply. H

Now what I would love to know, and will never know, is who were these people and what happened next, since twelve hours after the card was posted, Britain was at war.

So let’s imagine, we might begin by thinking that H is a young man and is romantically linked to Miss Parry Jones, did they meet up on the 5th? If H had been in the Territorials, he would have been immediately called up, but even if not then the passenger boat to Southsea would have come under military control and his trip might very well have been impossible.

Did he join up? In September 1914 thousands did, or was he conscripted two years later.

Did they marry, almost immediately after war was declared the rules were changed making it easier to get married, so soldiers could get married before they went to the front.

Did he return? Most men did, and they returned to a changed world, but the change for H was perhaps less than that which Miss Parry Jones experienced.

What did she do? Did she do war work, with the military as a nurse, ambulance drive or administrator, or perhaps she worked on the home front as a police woman, factory worker.

And for her the world after the war was very different, not only did she have the vote, many jobs were now open to her, but even her clothes were different. Skirts were shorter, corsets had vanished, a woman could vote, move and breathe now!

What do you think? Many of you are writers, what do you imagine might have been the fate of Miss Parry Jones and H?

What do you think happened next?



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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13 Responses to What happened next?

  1. Cindi says:

    This gets my imagination racing!! I’d like to think they found a way to get together and raised a happy family after the war was over.

    The story would then have a postscript that one of their great-grandchildren sees this post and contacts you to say they recognize the postcard’s contents as belonging to their ancestor, and can fill in the details of their life.

    But I don’t have the words (or historical memory knowledge) to put that into a historical fiction context in a quick comment!

    Wouldn’t it make a great novel?


  2. TanGental says:

    Now there’s a thought.


  3. willowdot21 says:

    Miss Parry Jones loved the bones of H
    They had one last chance to meet before their world would change.
    Both would be thrown into the maelstrom of war, where every thing was strange.
    He was for the trenches bound, though this he did not yet know
    While she, Miss Parry Jones, her world turned upside down into a factory would go.
    Young H would carry his gun, at first with pride. Before he, terrified, lost his youth.
    Miss Parry Jones watched her fingers turn yellow from using TNT though she never knew the truth.

    Miss Parry Jones loved the bones of H
    In love they corresponded back and forth from Brighton to France
    They both fought tiredness and hunger while fate led them a merry dance.
    Their letters filled with their private code hid their love and fears
    Both wept alone in the cold and dark and drank deep of bitter tears.
    Mud and blood and noise finally took H’s mind
    He got his ticket back to Blighty leaving the trench horrors behind.

    Miss Parry Jones loved the bones of H
    She went to the munition factory for her shift every night
    While H was being brought home a gibbering wreck, deaf and with no sight.
    Miss Parry Jones knew her man was returning home, this filled her heart with joy.
    God was looking elsewhere when she dropped a shell,her dying words where for H, her boy.
    H loved the bones of Miss Parry Jones sadly that was all that he came home to.
    He did recover in body though never in his mind. He lost his lovely girl.Their moments together too few.

    Miss Parry Jones loved the bones of H


  4. Pingback: Miss Parry Jones and H | willowdot21

  5. Charli Mills says:

    Archaeologist, you have the mind of a fiction writer, but instead you became the detective of ancient things. I’m curious, do you use your imagination to help resolve historical mysteries? I don’t mean that you make things up, I mean that you do as you did with this card–break it down, fact by fact, compare it to known facts of the period and pose questions to think of the possibilities? Very much enjoyed your guest post and the responses you gained. I think you should start an historical fiction prompt! 🙂


    • TanGental says:

      Like a good PA I have forwarded our comment on. If I can persuade him to start his own blog it would be fascinating; for now I suspect he guests on mine! The historical prompt idea is a great one.


  6. Pingback: My Virtuous Sibling – a Guest Post | TanGental

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