Saturday, 24 June 2017

Poetry workshop at Royal Cornwall Museum

A wonderful poetry workshop today at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, today led by local author Jenny Alexander. Poems were inspired by different elements of our exhibition Heart of Conflict, looking at Cornwall during World War One.
The exhibition closes at the end of next week - and it will be sad to take it down! But hopefully poems and short stories created during it will live on after its stay here at the Royal Cornwall Museum.
Other elements will be touring: watch this space.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Talk on WW1 tunnelling disaster

The trenches in northern France where William Gendall
Jenkin died are now covered with woods.
Great to see so many people at Juliet Jenkin's talk at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, on William Gendall Jenkin, a Cornish miner who died in a tunnelling disaster at the Western Front in World War One. William was one of many hundreds of Cornish miners who dug out under enemy lines to plant mines.
It was dangerous work - and William died underground with several of his friends who joined up at the same time in Camborne.
He was a cousin of Juliet's late husband - and Juliet's personal interest and commitment made this a very interesting and moving presentation.
This was the last talk in our lunchtime series for our Heart of Conflict (Cornwall during World War One. We'll be taking down the exhibition on 1 July 2017.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The convoy yard, Etaples

Only just come across this atmospheric World War One watercolour by Cornwall-based artist Ernest Procter. Procter lived in Newlyn through the war years, and was a friend of Harold and Laura Knight (she later went on to be an official war artist in WW2). He was also a close friend of the controversial vicar of St Hilary, Bernard Walke, and contributed wonderful illustrative panels (and altarpieces) for the church.
This watercolour shows a different, matter-of-fact, facet of his personality.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Vita Sackville-West's history of Women's Land Army

Am reading Nigel Nicolson's Portrait of a Marriage - and there are unexpected revelations about World War One.

His mother (the writer and renowned gardener) Vita Sackville-West is bowled over with excitement in April 1918 on discovering the clothes worn by women in the Land Army.

They are liberating - and open new doors and horizons for her....She later wrote to her very close friend Violet Trefusis:

"I had just got clothes like the women-on-the-land were wearing, and in the unaccustomed freedom of breeches and gaiters I went into wild spirits; I ran, I shouted, I jumped, I climbed, I vaulted over gates, I felt like a school boy let out on a holiday....."

Later she was to write a history of the Women's Land Army. World War One changed society - and life - for women generally.




Essential reading over coffee....

Dropping in to a cafe in Truro for coffee... it was great to pick up a leaflet featuring Heart of Conflict (our WW1 exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum)!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A soldier's tale, a mother's story

Written this morning at our short story workshop at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro - inspired by Heart of Conflict:


A soldier’s tale, a mother’s story

“Please, mum, I don’t want to go. Don’t make me go. I’m scared. I’ve never been away from here. Why do I have to go?”
“Because everyone else is going. All your mates. The whole of Dolcoath expects it. You’ll shame this family if you don’t. So go out, have a pint, come back and tomorrow be a man…” It was 7am and his mother was shouting furiously. “You’ve missed muster deliberately, you coward.”
“No, I didn’t. I just drank too much. I will go, mum – for you. I want you to be proud. Please…. I’ll run now.”
Wilfred dragged on his uniform, grabbed his kit bag and ran out the house, torn. He was in total turmoil.
“I don’t want to go, but I must go because I can’t let mum down. What can I do?”
Then he saw the milk cart standing on the corner.
Wilfred had never stolen anything before.
“I’m only borrowing it,” he said to himself as he urged the horse onwards to the muster point at the station. And then he saw his old foe, the local police sergeant, and his heart sank. He’d missed the muster and he’d stolen a cart and it must be obvious to Sgt Williams what was happening.
The policeman looked at Wilfred. Sgt Williams was notorious for his hard, unflinching ways. Many boy had felt the back of his hand. Many young men had ended up in his cells for very little. Wilfred sobbed. He was terrified – of going to war, of shaming his family, of going to gaol.
They looked at each other.
Then Sgt Williams spoke.
“Ok, Wilfred my lad, let’s sort you out. These things happen. We’ll get you there.”
Wilfred was open-mouthed as the policeman gently led him back to the cart and drove through the back roads to Truro where the Dolcoath lads were still waiting for their connection to the Front at the station.
They cheered when Wilfred appeared. He swallowed and steeled himself for what might lie ahead. He turned to thank Sgt Williams but he had already turned the cart round and slipped away.
Wilfred said to himself “I’ll do you proud, mum, even though I don’t want to go.”
It was October 1914. He was only 19. He never came home again.
And his mother, back at their little house in St Agnes, never forgave herself for forcing him off to war for pride. They never found his body so she refused to believe that he wouldn’t return home one day.
And every night, for the rest of her days, she kept a candle burning and a cold supper on the kitchen table just in case.

Short story writing in Truro

A thoughtful Tuesday morning in Truro ... a short story writing workshop at our WW1 exhibition Heart of Conflict at the Royal Cornwall Museum.
The session - inspired by stories featured in the exhibition - will result in some pieces that will live on after the exhibition closes (at the end of this month).
We'll post up contributions here on our blog  - and on the project's websites.  Click here to read the first ...