Current Writing

Everything Must Change

Pre-war tranquillity, then WW2, seen through a child’s eyes, overseen by his adult self.

There are two narrators; the younger self and the older self. When not being absorbed in the wonders of nature, the young boy, living in the idyllic setting of pre-war Anglesey, tries to comprehend the psychological peculiarities of his adult circle. What causes his mother to lock herself in her room for days at a time? Why do the family collude in hiding from everyone the circumstances of his grand-father’s death? Why did Auntie Lizzie bury her three new-born babies under the apple tree of her garden? Why did Uncle Gruff walk into the sea at Cemaes? What possesses Uncle Harry to dress in the under-garments of his mother? Were the two men hanged at Gallows Point, Beaumaris in the late 1700’s members of his own family?

Yet these disturbing circumstances, set against a back-drop of appalling deprivation of the late 1930’s into the 1940’s do little to dampen the exuberance of this young boy. Impetuous; sometimes cheeky, sometimes insensitive to the feelings of adults; he’s a jack-the-lad character who is always prying; always where he shouldn’t be. (Much to the despair of his older self)

The young boy’s father tells him how as a youngster he had witnessed Airship SSZ 73 fly under Telford’s famous Suspension Bridge in celebration of the end of WW1 on the 12th of November 1918. Now, in the late 1930’s, he too begins to experience a changing world. The family, who weeks before had viewed the ill-fated submarine HMS Thetis, beached at Traeth Bychan in 1939, with 99 bodies still entombed, begin to realise that war is imminent. His brother’s discovery of a Stone-Age axe-head dated some 5,000 years BC in a neighbour’s garden was yesterday’s thrill. Today, Lancaster bombers and Spitfires routinely fly under his bridge.

Eight new airfields are constructed. Many thousands of medium and heavy USAAF bombers fly in to his tiny island from the USA. The army of GI support staff are heavily armed with chewing gum and chocolate. Life has always been this way he thinks. Massively outnumbered by GI’s, the local population quickly adjusts. They profit from the spoils of war. Women are led into temptation … He hones his spying skills. Through partly drawn curtains and gently opened letter-boxes he sees … and he listens. Prostitution pays. He knows the hiding place of a local deserter and takes to him local gossip; ‘who loses, who wins; who’s in, who’s out’ …

WW2 meanwhile takes its toll of men. Families suffer. But not everyone. One woman is relieved that her domineering husband will never again return, thereby leaving her to tread new paths … Yet, no bombs fall on this small community. No children are evacuated from their homes. To this young boy, WW2 brings nothing but splendidly heady, carefree days; a diet of Technicolor stage-shows. To his young mind this is a war without hurt. He fears an end to it. But everything must change; for nothing stays the same. Not even he can be left untouched by either war or the dire circumstances of his immediate family. And in the nature of the deeply-affecting denouement he discovers not only the futility of conflict, but that Time destroys everything; that the past can never be brought back to life.