The Last 100 Days Battle is continuing tonight. In the distance explosions abound and more will follow later I suspect. There were plenty of fireworks last night and I suspect a few tomorrow also the weather will be mild and fire crews overworked. It does enhance the remembrance events however, one thing never absent during the war was noise. Noise from big guns and the rushing of shells overhead, noise from explosions, machine guns rattle and rifle patter adding to the screams and yells form men all around. The silence after eleven on the day war ended surprised many.
Having a baptism at church this morning gave us an idea of warfare in a different manner, hundreds of children appeared, at least there may not have been hundreds but it sure felt like it. Screams and shouts, yells and laughter, lots of laughter, and fun all around. This would never have happened in the church I went to as a child!
How churches once were is found deep into this H.V.Morton book. Morton travelled around Scotland (possibly during 1927/8 as the book is published 1929) and at one point high in the highlands he comes across a Scottish Sabbath! This he found was a strange place for a Londoner. He foolishly walked across the street expecting the chemist to sell him goods even though the village was shut up. Through a slightly opened door the chemist refused as it was not life or death. Later he saw the man dressed in black frock coat, black hat, black gloves carrying a black bible heading solemnly towards the Kirk, as indeed did everyone else, all similarly dressed. I suspect there was no music, just a prompt from the front as they sung through the psalms, solemnly. This reminded me of a tale of a young man being taken dressed in a kilt, his father was an army officer, towards an Edinburgh church. The town was quiet, little if any traffic in 1914, and as they passed they greeted those heading to similar churches as themselves which studiously ignoring those heading elsewhere. Ah the delight of the religion of 'agape!' To be honest it is only in the last fifty years such walls have come down and churches, as here in this town, work together much more. The baptism shows a clear divide between the regular attenders at this place and those who rarely touch churches, the visitors come dressed neatly for church, the regulars have a 'come as you are approach' and this is not always neatly dressed! Still, the ten pence pieces dropped in the bag as it passes by always helps.
Morton tends to be a bit dramatic in his writing. The tales were put into the newspaper he worked for and worked up into a book and he had both audiences in mind as he wrote. Hence we see him finding tales from long ago in the borders, ghosts and weird happenings that probably never happened mixed in with historical accuracy. At each stop he finds a story from the past, often intriguing, all to often a bit romantic, but well worth a read. In Edinburgh, Glasgow, Skye and Aberdeen he roves around revealing something of the country in the period after the war, a war in which he participated and as such recognises old soldiers and the power of the new war memorials that abound by his time. Not long after this of course the great depression settled in bringing with it another war. The book is an interesting insight into the period, the accents, very strong then, and attitudes of the time. It would be hard to enjoy a quiet walk in Skye these days when thousands of tourists clad in brightly coloured expensive anoraks fill the hills and ruin the experience they seek.
The Battle of Arras is continuing to the north, the Somme to the East and I am told Passchendale erupt at eight round the rugby club. I may take to bed soon...