One thing I must say about Mr B – he is always inordinately proud of anything and everything I do, bless him. It is, in equal parts, both heart-warming and extremely embarrassing.
Take today, for instance. We travelled over to Edes House in Chichester for the launch of the West Sussex Great War website, the culmination of much work by a whole team of people, including 150 volunteers,
of whom I was just one. Regular readers will recall me charting my progress via the Daily Blog as I sought to shed light on the lives of Arthur the Artist, Ernest the Farm Boy, Albert the Gardener and Arthur the Hero. Now their stories, along with those
of over sixty other Sussex men and women are featured on the newly launched website at www.westsussexpast.org.uk. Pay it a visit, if you have a moment to spare in your busy lives.
I am quietly proud of the work I have done but Mr B wants to tell it out loud. He explains to just about every one we meet at the launch just how much work I carried out (he details it all, just in
case they are not listening properly) while I cringe in embarrassment alongside him. I know only too well that many of those he is addressing will almost certainly have been volunteers themselves, every bit as involved and busy as I have been. He even
points out my name on the project acknowledgements board, remarking with self-satisfaction, that for once my name has been spelt correctly. I steer him off in the direction of the marquee where I hope we will be able to buy a cup of coffee. He won’t
be able to talk to anyone while he is drinking his coffee, now will he?
I cannot help wondering where all the computers are, offering visitors the opportunity
to visit the new website and be introduced to the wealth of information it holds. I wonder what behind the scenes conversations went on between the project team and IT staff who might not have wanted to work on a Sunday to provide the required technical
support and back-up. You can tell I have organised events in the past; I know all the pitfalls. I decide it would be churlish to remark on this missed opportunity when people have worked so hard to put the launch together.
Out in the marquee there are members of the Royal Sussex Living History Group, two dressed as World War 1 soldiers and one as a nurse, wearing a uniform much like the ones my dear Mum used to make
for me when I was a littl’un. At what stage, I wonder, did nurses stop wearing red crosses on the bibs of their aprons? I really need to know...
are meeting friends at the launch who are due to arrive in time for a reading of war poetry. Mr B has a headache and sends me off into the town centre to buy some Anadin Extra. I think I have just about enough time to get to the shops, buy the tablets and
get back before our friends arrive. You may be asking why this errand fell to me but, you see, it was All My Fault for changing handbags before we came out and failing to transfer the tablets I always carry from one bag to the other. I have a minor panic
when I am informed that Boots doesn’t open until 10.30 a.m. as it is Sunday but Tesco Express comes to the rescue. We may knock ‘em but it’s not the first time that Tesco Express has helped me out of a Small Domestic Difficulty.
Back at the launch and our friends still haven’t turned up, so we take our seats in the upstairs room where the poetry reading is to take place. Minutes before the
start, our friends arrive. Our little party is complete. We enjoy two of the featured talks then repair to a hostelry across the road for a spot of lunch in the sun-soaked pub garden where we are regaled by a jazz band for good measure. We talk
about their son’s forthcoming wedding and about our two sets of twins – theirs born earlier this year, ours due at the end of the year. We shall have to form our very own Twins Club. There is something very appropriate in contemplating the sunny
future our respective sets of twins will enjoy, on this day when we are commemorating the men who laid down their lives for the country they loved.
home I reflect on the fact that very soon the lives and times of those who lived through, and died in, the Great War will slip behind the curtain which divides the past from living memory. I am proud to have played a small part in holding the curtain
open by ensuring that the names of Arthur the Artist, Ernest the Farm Boy, Albert the Gardener and Arthur the Hero will not be forgotten.
wrong with being proud.
Mr B says so.