We’ve all been young(er)

Beer 1917

To me it’s obvious that I was once a lot younger than I am now. It’s harder for Offspring to imagine. I can get my head round Mother-of-witch having been young. Just. But to pop back in time to see what Great Uncle M and Great Aunt A (siblings) were like as teenagers is really weird. These lovely – but old – people strike me as so unlikely for teenagehood.

Both are dead now, but both lived to a very good old age, meaning that even Offspring knew them. Great Uncle M climbed mountains in the Lake District until he was about 100, and lived (just) in three centuries. His little sister Great Aunt A was about 98 when she died.

Beer 1917

But here they are, aged 18 and 14, and the year is 1917 and the place is Beer on the English south coast. The whole family cycled down from somewhere near Marlowe, and they seem to have had about four weeks of holiday. (I know. This puts them in the very privileged category.)

Beer 1917

The reason I know this much is that they wrote a holiday diary in the shape of an exercise book, each taking turns at telling what they did, and sticking postcards and tickets and other items in with the writing. There is a drawing of henbane (what were they up to?), and one of a walk. That’s the one that means I know it’s my in-law relatives we are dealing with. It’s a hill. All family outings involve hills.

Beer 1917

Beer 1917

It rained in Basingstoke on the way south. It would.

What surprises me the most is how young the language is. It could (almost) have been written now, and not 94 years ago. They sound so childish and carefree, those future Great Uncles and Aunts, and for that matter, the future Grandfather of the Resident IT Consultant. It’s 1917 and there is a war on. These carefree young things lost two brothers in 1916, within days of each other. (That sounds ‘OK’ when we look back from this distance, but if you put yourself in the shoes of people back then, it must have been devastating.)

Beer 1917

Beer 1917

During their time in Beer they do what people have always done on holiday. They eat ice cream. Expensive. They visit Stonehenge. They weigh themselves. And they write their diary. (There are rumours there are more books like this one, but we haven’t seen them.)

The handwriting is varied and interesting. Great Aunt A’s is very neat schoolgirlish and Great Uncle M’s is more ‘manly’. Their Father’s is noticeably older, and then there are all the other siblings and visiting uncles and what have you.

I wish we had it in us to write something like that. Blogging is all very well, but this exercise book is something else.

Beer 1917

And I really must make it to Beer one day.

10 responses to “We’ve all been young(er)

  1. So charming.

    I had no idea that there was a village called Beer. And you’d think I would know…

  2. Wonderful reminiscence treasure, BW! Loved it…

  3. What beautiful musical notation – it’s so hard to do that as clearly and as well. Wouldn’t it be lovely….

    We kept a holiday diary for the last two summers, but this year the enthusiasm has waned somewhat, and since I write for a living, the effort required to blog and write and fill in the holiday diary has seemed too overwhelming, so- alas – it will have to go on the ‘things I should have done but didn’t’ pile. Which is probably why most of us don’t keep such diaries any more. Not enough time.

  4. So you’d have drunk it, Seana?
    Linda – I agree. It’s nostalgia at its best.
    Debi – well done. I must copy you one day, as long as we can refrain from screaming too much at each other.

    I’ve been meaning to blog about the Beer diary for several summers. And when I think it all sounds too idyllic, then I just need to think about those soldier brothers/sons/nephews/future uncles.

  5. Let’s just say I would have been very sad not to have found a good pint there.

  6. Goodness how poignant and sweet. What will future generations have of ours? Very little, probably, with technology becoming rapidly obsolete and our mania for ‘decluttering’

  7. Beautiful creation. Poor blogs. Relegated to the cyber-heap.

  8. Pingback: Inför Hågkomstens Dag | Bookwitch på svenska

  9. How absolutely gorgeous, and we were in Beer last summer, the icecream is still expensive and the walk along the cliff path is famous, spectacular and almost vertical.
    Our closest to that is ‘The Pink Book’ a series of notebooks actually, and only the first was pink (the latest is green) kept on the coffee table and taken always on holiday. It contains first swallows and snow, butterflies, order of spring flowers, seeds planted, and other natural history etc. The whole family, including children, write and sometimes draw sketches and maps in it. They still keep it up, coming home from away, they say “Where’s the Pink Book? I saw a whatever,” It is much loved. Has gone on for years.

  10. I wish we were that enterprising!

    Have had the Resident IT Consultant’s more recently bought postcards from Beer sitting on my desk this month. He got them when down there on business some years ago, and they surfaced in a pre-Christmas tidy-up and I didn’t know what to do with them. What category things do they belong to?

    And I felt I’d like to go, but also that Beer is a long way away. Or maybe I am.

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