The Great War

Alison Brackenbury

Vesta Tilley Vesta Tilley
New eras do not always arrive with fireworks and fanfares. They may tug quietly at your sleeve. Some years ago, I read of another writer’s belief that his readers felt no connection with the war of 1914 to 1918: the war which overshadows my mind as ‘The Great War’. I am sure he was correct. Even then, most of that war’s soldiers had gone. Now every one of them is dead.

But everyone who lives a long life becomes a tiny hinge of history. Almost fifty years before I read that writer’s comment, I could spend any Saturday afternoon re-fighting the Great War, in the company of someone who had served through the whole of it, almost fifty years before. For when my mother headed off on the bus to choose brown wallpaper or agonise about affording a hat, as an early refusenik of shopping, I went down…

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