Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Had an extraordinary Sunday afternoon in Leigh.

I was at the atmospheric Fishermen's Chapel to see the wonderful production MERRY IT WAS TO LAUGH THERE...

The play marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War told through diaries, poetry and songs. With just two people performing, the excellent Christine Absalom and Tim Freeman, it was a wonderfully evocative experience.

They both read out the beautifully poignant poems, pausing sometimes to briefly give the context to the events of the war. All interspersed with a recorded voice reading from an officer's diary, an entry would often be just simple, mundane lines, describing the weather, put beside the death of a fellow soldier on the same day.

It was good to see that, alongside the well known poets of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, were sometimes anonymous poems, the writer's name lost in time. They were just as elegant, poised and frequently dark as anything from the famous war poets.

All this was performed on a sparse but brilliantly put together set. With real objects and letters from the era and a fantastic trail of scraps of paper, letters and poems all coming from a box at the back of the stage.

A real tear-jerking afternoon...

The Fishermen's Chapel at the New Road Methodist Church, opposite Old Leigh.

The wonderful set, with a perfect backdrop of the First World War memorial behind it.

Christine Absalom, reading one of the many poems featured.

Christine, with Tim Freeman, performing another poignant scene.

A close up of the table on the set, with the lovely touches that were added.

Original wartime postcards and photos added an authentic touch.

The amazing stained glass window at the chapel depicting Leigh's famous fishing heritage.

I also had a great moment at the SOUTHEND BOOK & ARTS FAIR last Saturday...
A lady showed great interest and then bought a framed picture of a collage I've done of First World War items that I own.
She wondered if there was a Victoria Cross on the collage. I then had to explain that I only use things I actually have, a VC can be worth tens of thousands of pounds!!

The reason she asked was that a relative of hers actually won the Victoria Cross in 1918 and she thought my collage would be a nice memento for her family. Which was a fantastic moment for me.

The collage, which has found a home in a VC winning family.

On a trip to the Cantal region in France earlier this year, I kept spotting and photographing many French First World War memorials and plaques. As in Britain, every village and town has them, with the sad list of names underneath.

They were all incredibly beautiful sculptures and artworks and I promised myself I would put together a collage of them as a tiny tribute.
For now, here is just one of them, in the small village of Saint Jacques des Blats.

Saint Jacques des Blats memorial featuring a French soldier and the Croix des Guerre medal.

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