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.
Manchester this afternoon.
Still dark and satanic.
I like it when Facebook sends me memory notifications of updates I made on that particular date in the past. I rediscover some great things that have slipped from my mind. For instance this one, from my then five-years-old daughter:
Millie’s Nan was impressed at her first attempt to write the nativity story for school: ‘There was once a lady called Mary who had a baby boy. She named him Jesus because she didn’t like the name Jason’.
“How can the dead be truly dead when they are still walking in my heart?”
– Clock Without Hands, Carson McCullers
(The quote is from the book that I’m reading at the moment.)
(The photograph is of my maternal grandparents on their wedding day. I never met my Grandfather, but have always wondered about him. When they were courting, the usual Catholic v Church of England tension was going on within the families, and my Grandfather said he would never marry while his (disapproving) mother was still alive. After she died, they married, but my Gran wore a grey dress instead of a white one out of respect for her recently deceased mother-in-law. I think this quite a dignified and humble gesture on her part.)
A Millie muddle for you:
“Dad, if tomorrow was today, would it be school tomorrow?”
I have just finished reading Goodbye To All That, the autobiography of writer and poet Robert Graves, up to 1929. In it he talks of meeting other writers such as Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen, and, in more depth, Siegfried Sassoon. Of most interest, though, is his account of the time he served as an officer in the First World War.
He speaks of the horrors of war:
“…I went along whistling ‘The Farmer’s Boy’, to keep up my spirits, when suddenly I saw a group bending over a man lying at the bottom of the trench. He was making a snoring noise mixed with animal groans. At my feet lay the cap he had worn, splashed with his brains. I had never seen human brains before; I somehow regarded them as a poetical figment. One can joke with a badly-wounded man and congratulate him on being out of it. One can disregard a dead man. But even a miner can’t make a joke that sounds like a joke over a man who takes three hours to die, after the top part of his head has been taken off by a bullet fired at twenty yard’s range.”
There is also the tragi-comic, such as the soldier who wanted a ‘cushty’ wound that would get him sent back home to England:
“…so he waves his hand above the parapet to catch Fritz’z attention. Nothing doing. He waves his arms about for a couple of minutes. Nothing doing, not a shot. He puts his elbows on the fire-step, hoists his body upside-down, and waves his legs about till he gets blood to the head. Not a shot did old Fritz fire. “Oh,” says the Munster man, “I don’t believe there’s a damn square-head there. Where’s the German army to?” He has a peek over the top-crack! He gets it in the head. Finee.”
Graves talks of the superstition among the men, and how he himself saw the ghost of a friend who saluted him through a window, who unknown to the author had been killed some time previous. He also tells how Sassoon distinguished himself by single-handedly taking an enemy frontage in daylight, but then instead of signalling for reinforcements, sat down in the German trench and started reading a book of poetry he had taken with him. His furious Commanding Officer said he’d have gotten him a D.S.O (Distinguished Service Order award) if he’d only shown more sense.
This is a good book and a timely read, what with all of the First World War anniversaries occurring around this time.
I have also picked up some more books from the Penguin Modern Classics range: some Capote, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Stegner, to add to those I already have.
Could there be a greater collection of books out there?
My seven year old daughter recently gave me the following unsolicited advice:
“Dad, if ever you are constipated, just scream in your head. It will get it out, but hurt your ears.”