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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

August 2014

Kate Wills

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Bedtime reading for me is currently EF Benson's Outbreak of War 1914.

His August was rather more affluent and well-connected than mine, though we share things in common, notably Wagner. However, I'm not off to Bayreuth next week (though we did go some years ago), or going on to my second home in Corsica for a spell. But like him I spent this first weekend of August in the countryside. 3rd August 2014 was a classic English summer day. The hedgerows green, against the gold of maturing crops. Church spires and farmhouses across the fields; horses and cattle grazing in the meadows. A blue sky carried cotton-wool clouds, and the swallows soared and swooped overhead, while my path was dotted with wildflowers of yellow and purple. A day of golden sunlight that made every colour in this gentle English shire landscape even more intense. A day for admiring the view, and feeling satisfied with life; yet knowing the news would be full of death and destruction in another war in the Middle East, and yet another in Ukraine. Here and now, life could not be more serene. The only thing Benson would not recognise are the black plastic-clad rolls of silage, glinting in the sun.

Benson and his fellow houseguests raced for each day's paper, wondering what would happen next. Now, on 3rd August, Benson's friend at the Foreign Office has rung to say their trip to Bayreuth won't happen, and the situation looks bleak.

100 years later, I'm watching a report on BBC News about the Great War centenary in Singapore. There has already been a symbolic Franco-German hug at a ceremony in France.

The clock has ticked over into the 4th August 2014.

I must to bed, and read how the day goes for EF Benson.

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