Death Do Us Part: A Letter From The Trenches

I read this moving letter, with a moving conclusion, on a FB post for Valentine’s Day. It is taken from the Imperial War Museum.

A letter from the trenches. 1917

Private Albert Ford wrote to his wife, Edith, on a scrap piece of paper before going ‘over the top’.

“My darling if this should ever reach you it will be a sure sign that I am gone under and what will become of you and the chicks I do not know but there is one above that will see to you and not let you starve,” he wrote.

“You have been the best of wives and I loved you deeply, how much you will never know.

“Dear heart, do think sometimes of me in the future when your grief has worn a bit, and the older children, I know won’t forget me, and speak sometimes of me to the younger ones…

“Dearest, if the chance should come your way for you are young and good looking and should a good man give you an offer it would please me to think you would take it, not to grieve too much for me…

“I should not have left you thus bringing suffering and poverty on a loving wife and children for which in time I hope you will forgive me.

“So dear heart I will bid you all farewell hoping to meet you in the time to come if there is a hereafter. Know that my last thoughts were of you in the dugout or on the fire step my thoughts went out to you, the only one I ever loved, the one that made a man of me.”

Albert was killed in action on 26 October 1917. His last letter was treasured by Edith until her death. She never remarried and as she lay dying in February 1956 she said she could see Albert in the corner of her bedroom.

And The Clock Ticks On

A memory reblog-my daughter has recently turned ten years old. This was from when she turned eight.

City Jackdaw

My daughter turned eight years old today. On greeting her and wishing her ‘Happy Birthday’ this morning, she told me that she said a prayer last night in bed:

“Thank you for being seven, and thank you for all my remembers.”

I loved that last bit-thank you for all my remembers. Her way of summing up the past twelve months of her life, all of the memorable moments in the cavalcade of chronological events.

The other day I was watching her younger brother James from the kitchen window. He was out in the garden, studying a bird perched in a tree above him. He was serious and rapt, the hint of the handsome man he will be painted there on his face, and I found myself confessing a sad, wistful thought to myself:

I wish I was younger.

I have four children, and their arrival into the world was spaced…

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Pain Is Love

I woke this morning to the news that Debbie Reynolds had died, just one day after Carrie Fisher. The strain must have been just too much for the aged star. “She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” said her son, Todd Fisher. “She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie’, and then she was gone.”

Debbie wanting to be with her daughter is a nice thought, but what a time their family must be going through. On hearing the news, the lyrics of Ja Rule came to mind:

If pain is truly love,

for my family I die.

R.I.P both mother&daughter.

Dylan And The Nightingale

In honour of Dylan’s recently bestowed honour, I thought I’d repost this from the summer just passed.

City Jackdaw

I’m behind with my Springwatch. So much so that it is now summer. I watched one of the episodes I recorded yesterday, and learned an amazing fact about the nightingale.

This bird, in an attempt to woo a female mate, chooses around 600 notes, and then combines them into about 250 phrases. From these it produces its song, and every time it sings, its song is different every single time.

Think about that: from the combination and variants open to them, every time these birds sing, they never repeat the same song. Each time they come up with something original.

The latest research seems to indicate that females select males on the quality of his song, because the nightingales that sing the best are the best providers of food for chicks. Ready to pull, they clear their throat and give it there all.

Never worked for me on Karaoke night.

Each year…

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Sept 11th:Tragedy; Love Story; Poem

Recently was the fifteen-year anniversary of the September eleventh attacks. For my generation, this was our JFK moment, where everybody remembers where they were when they first heard, or saw, the terrorist atrocity taking place.

At the time I was a postman here in Manchester, and had just caught up on my sleep with a couple of hours in the afternoon. I saw it all unfold, disbelievingly, as I was getting ready to pick my daughter up from school.
On the mantelpiece was a postcard, having arrived that day, from a woman who I had known for many years. We’d first met in infant school, and became best friends in high school, that close friendship continuing long into my adult life. The postcard was from New York, and among the scribbled lines was a throwaway comment that she was intending to go up one of those towers that I’d just seen erupting into flames.

After a few frantic calls, (in the days before we both had mobiles), I discovered that her mother had heard from her: she was safe in L.A. She had been about to travel to San Francisco until all of the planes had been grounded, stranding her there.

This was the first shaking of my complacency about our long relationship.

Today we are married, with children. I’ve seen the photographs she took from the top of one of those towers just a couple of days before it collapsed, unable to fathom the sheer desperation that could force people to jump from such a height.

I wrote a poem not long after that tragic day, a long one called American Trilogy. It wasn’t about 9/11 per se, but it did feature. How could it not.

 The poem didn’t make into my book. Perhaps one day I will publish it in its entirety.

Here I post the closing lines, referring to that day and the idea that my lifelong friend was over there. Somewhere.
I received word across

Atlantic squalls

that your wings

were torn upon the besieged

coast,

your eyes reaping shelter

from a holocaust

of lenses.


A pre-emptive strike

at my complacency,
praying for an eye in the storm.


And you, snug in a motherland 

of flag-waving lambs


where everyone wants to be quarterback,

everyone wants to be General,

everyone wants to lay the homecoming queen.


Icons in an American dream.


©Andrew James Murray