* Because I still have my Sydney Morning Herald weekly book reviewing gig, I am still reading a minimum of four novels a week. In several different ways it's the most wonderful education, and I think most people would be astonished to learn how many contemporary novels are, one way or another, about one or both of the two World Wars. In particular, the effects and after-effects of World War 2, like bruises from some gigantic, crushing injury, are still coming up and out and showing in lurid colours on the surface of contemporary consciousness, especially, but not exclusively, in Europe.
But the Great War gets its share of attention from novelists too, and I read another one only recently. That wasn't long after I'd sat down and figured out the details of what my paternal grandfather's battalion, the Tenth, had actually been doing during the war while he was in it, from 1915: too late for ANZAC Cove but in plenty of time for the Western Front.
They were shunted back and forth between two of the worst places, Ypres and the Somme, for around three years. Three years of wading through mud, disintegrating body parts and large well-fed rats. Apart from anything else, I can't help wondering what he was thinking as he watched his only son -- his only child -- set off at seventeen to join the Navy in 1944.
* If I read one more inane blog post, tweet (is there no-one who will save this woman from herself?) or op ed about ANZAC Day and its construction and commemoration written by someone who's never heard of either C.E.W. Bean or Alan Seymour but isn't letting their total ignorance of (1) the single fundamental fact about the creation of the 'ANZAC Legend' or (2) the first real challenge to it in Australian culture (New Zealand may have its literary or historical equivalent) get in the way of a good self-righteous rant, I'm going to break something valuable and then throw up on the shattered fragments. Yes some people glorify war. No others don't. Yes it's used to sell papers and get TV ratings. No that's not actually ANZAC Day's fault, you morons.
And yes, some of us have soldiers, sailors and air(wo)men in the family history and no we don't want to forget about what they endured. I habitually get through the worst times in my own life by thinking about what some of my ancestors had to go through. They are a massive well of strength to draw on.
* I think I've pretty much exhausted my own archival material in former ANZAC Day posts, which can be found here, here and here.
* The biscuits, they rock. My grandfather, famous for his approach to food (and why wouldn't you be, after three years in the trenches), was wont to say to my mother as he reached for whatever was left on any given serving plate or bowl: "I'll just clean this up for you, Kerrie." To this day my sisters and I say this whenever anyone reaches for the last cupcake or the dregs of the champagne, and then fall about shrieking. He would have eaten the whole tray and come back for seconds.
In which the pond turns to the Caterists and Dame Groan ... - The pond is never sure whether the reptiles are mocking the Donald, or mocking themselves for admitting that they're the Donalds of down under journalism...
9 minutes ago