Tonight, my mind is on events of nearly 70 years ago. For most of the last two hours, I have been a lifetime away, focused on the day to day events of the first year of the Second World War. In reality I'm in the middle of North Lincolnshire, staying at my regular hotel, on my monthly visit to Site, but it doesn't feel that way.
I have been attempting to finish Simon Garfield's excellent collection of diaries from the Second World War, We Are at War. I know I've written about it before, but I have to comment again about the power of the writing. The diarists are so eloquent as they chronicle their personal War: the privations; the sky-rocketing food prices; the crippling taxes; their fears over being bombed and the possible invasion. The War was hard on the civilian population, particularly those who were struggling to begin with. Once again, I find myself marvelling at how people survived and how they "made do".
I was so completely absorbed tonight that it took an effort to refocus my mind on my life, on the present day, on the waiter who brought my drink and the waitress who cleared the plates away. I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in this series: Private Battles, covering 1941 to 1945, and Our Hidden Lives, covering the post-War period 1946 to 1948.
(If you're curious as to why this book wasn't finished months ago, the answer is simple: I don't get much reading time at home. It's too noisy or there are other things demanding my attention. I tend to do most of my reading when I'm travelling for work.)