I have a new job!
Worry not, I haven't turned my back on the delights of retiring in style. These days I don't take on jobs which bring with them a pay packet - I look
for fun, interest, challenge and enlightenment. Which is a pretty tall order, I accept.
My interview was at the local library this morning. Half way through, my mobile phone rang. It was the Middle of the
Darling Daughters trying to contact me. I had no option but to swipe "decline" before turning my phone off. I don't think I have ever declined a call from a Darling Daughter before: I hope I will be forgiven.
you want to hear about the job, don't you? Well, just a little background to begin with - regular readers will remember my involvement in the Great War Project, for which I researched and wrote four case studies. I called my subjects Arthur the Artist, Ernest
the Farm Boy, Albert the Gardener and Arthur the Hero. Do click on the Great War Project link (left) if you want to know more. That project culminated in the launch of a book, a website and a touring display, timed to mark the centenary of the start of the
First World War in August 1914.
Now, just over a year on, I feel ready for a new challenge and, with perfect timing, I am approached about becoming involved with a project called Military Voices. Following
my interview this morning, I have been invited to join both the research team and the interview team. Why join one team, I always say, when you could join two?
Back in the 1980s, a number of interviews with
veterans of the two World Wars were taped. One of my tasks as a member of the research team will be to take one of the tapes, listen to the story told in the veteran's own words and write up a summary, backing it up with research into, for example, service
records and family background. It will be like writing about one of the Arthurs or Ernest or Albert - but with the extra dimension of actually hearing their voices. Oh, how I would have loved to listen to Arthur the Artist, telling me about life working as
an engineer with the 5th Railway Survey Team in an old railway carriage on the front line Somewhere in France. Or hear Albert the Gardener recounting how he picked and pressed wild flowers on a hillside in Italy to send home to his "dear Mother."
My job as a member of the Interview Team will be every bit as rewarding. Working with another volunteer, I will be interviewing a couple of veterans for myself and writing up their stories. One of us will ask the questions,
the other will operate the machinery. The interviewing part does not hold too many fears for me but I may need some time to Master the Machinery. Hopefully my Partner in Crime will be well versed in All Things Mechanical. I look forward to meeting him or her
at our training session in December.
Emma, who is the Project Manager, asks if I have any preference as far as my interviewees are concerned. I am about to say no when I have a sudden thought: might it be
possible that one of the potential interviewees served in North Africa, like my Dad? I never sat down with my Dad to ask him about his war service, something I bitterly regret now though I do have the benefit of a few anecdotes which, with my mother's encouragement,
he jotted down on lined pages torn from an old exercise book.
What an added bonus it would be, to speak to a veteran of the Eighth Army who may have served in the same campaigns as my Dad!
Along the High Street, while picking up some shopping on the way, I meet one of my former colleagues from my days as a Working Gal. She is making best possible use of her day off, she tells me, with the aim of
making inroads into her Christmas gift list. "You must be really enjoying all your free time!" she says, a trifle enviously.
I think of so many happy hours spent with my Truly Tremendous Ten grandchildren
and their parents; U3A activities like choir, cribbage and behind the scenes visits with the Merry Band of Questers; chairing Voluntary Action Worthing; joining the children of the school where I am a governor in the classroom or on class outings; not to mention
my new undertaking, the Military Voices project. Plus, of course, my most important job of all, looking after Mr B. I think I can safely say that I am doing a good job of filling my days.
"You bet!" I say.