Confined to bed just now for much of the day, waiting for recovery, I've been trying to catch up on some reading. Lyn Macdonald's 1915: The Death Of Innocence, her lively account of the second year of World War I, has been top of the bedside table pile for some days. I can only take it in short bursts, not only because the narrative is so dense but because the book's so heavy and, lying on my back, I have to hold it awkwardly above my head.
It's not the only history of WWI that I've ever read, and like everyone else I'm familiar with the waste, the slaughter, the shamefully deficient leadership, military and political, the idiocy, the pointlessness of it all and so on. And, in my dreadful vanity, how different things might have been if I'd been there.
I read each unfolding chapter with a kind of breath-holding hope at the possibility that before the chapter's end it may all turn out differently, that there will be no casualties, the generals will have been justified, and everyone will come home whistling happily. It's never the case, of course. And yet that hope persists. I wonder why.
[Finding it hard to sit at the computer for very long, I'm afraid I've fallen badly behind with visiting everyone. I'm sorry. I'll try and catch up as soon as I can.]