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.
Those 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?