At this time of the year my thoughts always turn to France and the horror. Lest We Forget
A Good Day
Today is a good day. We moved into a new trench last night. The flooding here isn’t as bad and the boards are still sound. The rain eased in the early hours and now the sky is a bright blue basin curving above us.
From where I’m sitting with my mug of tea and a wedge of cake out of the package from home, another reason it’s a good day, I can see the top of the mud wall and not too far off a green field. It’s spring green, that fresh new colour that is really gold, new shoots poking through the black soil, new life.
It I turn ninety degrees there’s a small wood, the early sun raised a faint mist from the trees, a miasma, floating upward and dispersing, like a prayer carried on the breeze. The leaves are unfurling and the whole is covered by green gauze anchored on the great dark limbs. There were pigs in there a while ago but they’ve gone now.
The birds are singing to the sunshine and one of the boys further down has a mouth organ. He’s good and every now and again someone will join in and sing a few bars.
I can hear the lads next to me murmuring together, I don’t try to listen. I know what they are talking about, home, family, jobs, mates. I take myself a little out of it and it becomes a quiet rumble, almost a lullaby.
My feet are dry, the parcel from home had socks in. I think Kitty made them, they’re not as neat as Mum’s but she put a couple of lines of red wool in to make them a bit fancy, it made me smile. Soon the damp from these old boots will seep through but right now my feet are dry.
I shaved my head again the day before yesterday so there’s no itch from the nits and lice. Me and Albert did it together. His looked better than mine. My head’s got a couple of funny bumps and that scar from when I fell out of the apple tree, yes his was much better.
We’ve always done things together, ever since the first day at school. We played truant together, scrumped apples and hid outside Mrs Wilmott’s to watch through the gap in the kitchen curtains and see Tilly have her bath. We wanked together then and shared our first cig after that. I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t done together, not until yesterday.
Look though, in this moment, in this hour I am warm and relaxed and I have a tin of jam for when the bread comes round. It’s as near to being happy as I could wish for. Yes today is a good day.
If I turn back forty-five degrees I can look out the other way, the last view, the one straight ahead. I can see the wire there in the distance, some craters and two dead horses still harnessed to a wrecked gun carriage. Though I’m trying not to see, just a bit further over I can see Albert. He’s caught on the wire, he’s facing this way though I don’t understand why and his hand is hooked on the top. It looks as though he’s waving. He’s lost his helmet and I can see his bald head, it always was a better shape than mine.
Today is a good day but yesterday, ah yesterday.