Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Remarkable Day

This morning, as part of the Military Voices Project, I met a remarkable 91 year old woman who worked at Bletchley Park back in the war years. Then this afternoon I met up with a steady stream of young'uns, aged between 4 and 11, signing up for the Big Friendly Read aka The Summer Reading Challenge. And there's me, somewhere in the middle. Though,to be strictly honest (and I do think the Daily Blog should aim for total honesty, even when tempted to embroider the truth in the interest of, well, being interesting) then I confess I am rather a lot nearer the one than the other.

It is one of the things about my varied life that I love most: the opportunities it presents for enjoying the company, the insights and the experiences of people of all ages. How lucky I am.

Last night, in common with most of the country, I simply couldn't sleep on account of the heat. When I finally succumbed to slumber, it was to be gripped by a particularly colourful dream, doubtless influenced by the fact that I had been delegated by Military Voices project manager Emma to drive to the interview. Why this should turn into a nightmare, I leave you to judge. Suffice to say, it was actually a short and easy drive which should take me no more than seven minutes (according to Google directions) once I'd picked Emma up from the library.

In my dream, however, I was spending the night before the interview in a hotel (why? where?) having parked my car in a nearby car park. Come the morning of the interview I could not remember, in my dream, in which of several car parks I had left my Grand Old Lady. Unexpectedly (as in all the best dreams) two of the Darling Daughters turned up though neither was much help; all the Middle of the Darling Daughters could suggest was that we should go out and buy fish and chips. At which point I woke up to the happy realisation that Real Life was going to be much less worrying than in my dreams.

How I am enjoying listening to the stories told me by participants in the Military Voices project! How much I have learnt about the Burma Campaign, the Korean War and - from today's interview - the daily life of women who worked through day and night transcribing messages in Morse Code, pledged to secrecy on pain of a charge of treason - the penalty for which was death by hanging. I can only hope that, if I live into my Nineties, I will be as bright, as articulate, as insightful as the truly remarkable woman I interviewed today.

The children who flocked to my Big Friendly Read desk in the library this afternoon were all remarkable in their own ways. The afternoon started slowly - but then built up steadily once school was out for the day. I was supposed to be leaving at four o'clock, in time to pick up on the way home a couple of jacket potatoes and some salad for our dinner, but the steady stream of young readers didn't slow for long enough to allow me to pack up my trolley and escape into the World Outside the Library.

At 4.45 I seized what looked like a Window of Opportunity - but just as I was on the point of wheeling the trolley into the staff room and signing off for the day, an anguished parent waved at me: "We're not too late are we? We've come straight from school and my daughter's SO excited!"

One look at the little lass's shining face showed this was no maternal exaggeration. I unpacked the trolley and prepared to sign up the 165th recruit to this year's Summer Reading Challenge at our library.

I was so glad I did; Number 165 reminded me so much of myself when I was nine years old. I could tell she was going to take the Challenge seriously; I knew that, though she would love the rewards she would receive for each book she read, it would be the reading of the books themselves which would excite her most, I do hope I will be on duty on the Big Friendly Read desk when she comes back to tell us about the stories she has read.

Two lovely people separated by a period of over eighty years. One aged nine, one in her Nineties.

A remarkable day. In anyone's book.



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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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