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Sheenagh Pugh "Sheenagh Pugh" (Shetland)
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Mr Beams Outdoor Wireless Motion Sensor Activated 80-Lumen Led Path Lights with Ground Stakes, Set of 2
Mr Beams Outdoor Wireless Motion Sensor Activated 80-Lumen Led Path Lights with Ground Stakes, Set of 2
Price: £39.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot for £40, 23 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You don’t get a lot for your money. For almost £40 you get 2 lightweight, plastic, garden lights. They are reasonably stylish, are easy to position and give adequate light.

They each require 4 ‘C’-cell batteries, which, it is claimed, will give 50 hours of LED light. It is difficult to assess this claim without spending all night in the garden, but battery life will clearly be dependent on conditions and the quality of the batteries. To get the maximum life out of the batteries do not place the lights near to a public road or footpath, as the lights will be on and off with every passing vehicle, person or animal.

They work well next to our garden steps where they provide much needed light, for safety reasons, at night.

They stand about 15 inches above ground level and are secured by a 6 inch plastic spike. They seem stable enough, but I am not sure how well they would stand up to any heavy blows or knocks. And, how well they will stand up to winter gales and hailstorms remains to be seen, but I am concerned at how lightweight they are.


Boy Running
Boy Running
by Paul Henry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars This Song, 19 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Boy Running (Paperback)
Clocks. Rivers. Skylights. Arches and arcs. Songs. The sea. Henry's poetry is becoming not just more and more musical but more fugue-like, forever picking up themes and motifs from earlier work that deepen and grow more haunting each time he does so. His first collection, decades back, was called Time Pieces, and ever since, the passing of time has sounded in his work; the stone his younger ghost-self kicks through a Sixties housing estate in this book is "four million today"; has been there since the estate was a primeval swamp. He is "kicking a time piece".

The names of former neighbours inhabit this long poem as the names of women inhabited his spellbinding long poem "Penllain" from The Brittle Sea and earlier poems, notably in The Milk Thief. To me, at least, the name-listing in "Kicking the Stone" does not have quite the same resonance as that; I think because these are neighbours and friends, while Catrin Sands, Brown Helen and the rest were family (anyone biographically minded who wants to know more about them may care to look at the interview Henry gave at http://sheenaghpugh.livejournal.com/60657.html). In fact the final section of "Kicking the Stone" rises quite suddenly to a new height of impassioned involvement:

O scuff of sunny dust,
preserve this woman's song
only the stone and I can hear
up the unfinished road.

Preserve this woman's song
that finds the sea in a stone
as we pass by, up the road,
up the unfinished song.

And I think this heightened intensity can only be because the "musical house" where this happens, where a soprano is rehearsing, has to be Henry's own childhood home (his mother was a professional singer).

Brown Helen and the others do in fact recur by name in two poems: "Wardrobe Time" and "Brown Helen on Harbour Beach", and both have not just a nostalgic but a slightly elegiac tone, as if he might be saying goodbye to them. I sort of hope not, because they have become familiar and loved ghosts to the reader as well as the poet, but work does move on. Family life has always been important in his poems, but in this collection the protagonist is distanced from his family; in the collection's first poem, "Usk", the eponymous river is both the distance and the link between the speaker, "upstream", and the "you" he addresses, in the "mess of streets" where the river turns to sludge (ie, Newport). And the "boys" whose childhood has featured in earlier collections are distanced not only in space but by time, the adulthood which brings independence and loosens parental ties. In "Late Kick-Off" the ghost-boys return in fancy:

They are coming back to me
taller than I imagined
and too old to warm inside my fleece.
It has been too long.
They must be cold by now.
I'll warm up the engine.

Those three short sentences at the end: a reminder that Henry has always been skilled at using the unromantic tools of sentence structure to create pace, tension, emotion. He must also be one of the most skilled and unobtrusive rhymers currently working; his natural musicality lends itself to form, but it's a different and more verbal skill that makes the rhyme in "Blackrock: the Bedsit Years" read so unforced:

The lost years owned a rent-book
and sometimes fell behind.
Damp, second-hand,
they clung to what they took,
sang between cracked walls,
had plans, murdered mice,
came and went, imprecise
in their choice of doorbells.

"Davy Blackrock", a new character in his work, is a sort of modern avatar of the 18th-century harpist and composer Dafydd Owen, better known as Dafydd y Garreg Wen (David of the White Rock), who is remembered today for the tune that bears his name. There is a fair amount of humour in Davy, but also much darkness. The final poem of both this section and the collection is neither up- nor downbeat; it expresses inevitability, the way our past shapes us and the necessity of living with that:

However badly we played our love,
slipped out of key, this song.

It will not forget us, haunts us now,
plays us into the dusk, this song.

It seems appropriate, in such a music-haunted, crafted collection, that this final poem is called "Song" and is a ghazal. But the poem that strikes me as most like a keynote for this collection would probably be "Under the River", both for its musicality, the way it uses refrain and the alternating short and long sentences to drive its rhythms, and for the way he has always had of seeing inside and beyond things:

Under the river a deeper river runs.
It is simply a case of pressing your ear
your heart to the bank, about here,
then of listening to its quieter turns

to the voices of loved ones
you thought would never rise again,
holding you now, with an old refrain.
Under the river a deeper river runs.


Poems of Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross: Unpublished Works from Manuscript with 'Ane Godlie Dreame'
Poems of Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross: Unpublished Works from Manuscript with 'Ane Godlie Dreame'
by Elizabeth Melville
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Feare not to win out, 14 Mar. 2015
Elizabeth Melville (c1578-1640) was the earliest female Scottish poet to have her work appear in print. It is powerful, accomplished and shows great technical mastery. Yet the Oxford and Penguin Books of Scottish Verse ignore it; only in recent anthologies of women's verse has it appeared. Why so long a wait? A long-standing tendency for academics to underrate women's poetry is certainly part of it; so, perhaps, may be the fact that much of her poetry, until lately, was only available in manuscript form and thus less likely to attract the less thorough anthologist. It is also possible that being written in Scots has told against it; even Dunbar and Henryson are not as highly rated in the wider English-speaking world as they should be.

But when Jamie Reid Baxter, editor of this volume, spoke on Melville at St Andrews recently, he suggested another reason: her uncompromising subject matter. Her one theme is religion: she writes as a Presbyterian, conscious of sin, believing she can be saved not by her own merit, nor by any intermediary like a saint or a priest, but only by her direct relationship with God. It follows that when she does not sense his presence in her life, she experiences deep sensations of loss and grief, while the moments when she does have an intermittent sense of his grace are so intense as to be hard for a modern reader to share, unless indeed one reads them as one would a love-poem to a human being. Most religious poets – Herbert, Donne – sometimes sound like love-poets, but female religious poets like the Welsh hymn-writer Ann Griffiths are particularly apt to do so, and Melville certainly does:

thee alone
my onlie one
the first and eik the last. (Meditation on Psalm 42)

One of the most staggering things about Melville is her metrical virtuosity. In her sacred parody of Marlowe's "Come live with me and be my love", she fashions a corona by picking up words from the last line of one verse in the first of the next:

Come live with me and be my love
And all these pleasurs thou shalt prove
That in my word hath warned thee
O loath this life and live with me

This life is but a blast of breath
Nothing so sure as dreadful death
And since the time no man can know
Sett not thy love on things below

For things below will wear away
And beautie brave will soon decay
Look to that life that lasts for ever
And love the love that failes thee never

I never failed thee in thy need….

and she keeps this up for three more pages, never sounding in the least forced. In sonnets to Andrew Melville, she employs the fiendishly difficult rime batelée, where the end-rhyme of one line is picked up internally in the next:

Do not complain to suffer heir a space
A schour of grace unto thy saull sall raine
This world in vaine sall seik to spoill thy peace

She is adept at anagrams, alliterative constructions, writing words to complicated psalm and song tunes. Technically she is the equal of any poet of her time (or of many other times) and the superior of most. But she is not, ever, your dry-as-dust technician. Her meditations on her relationship with God are thought-provoking and by no means always expected or conventional:

Oh qhuat is man
Lord think I than
that thow began
thy great and wonderous works for him alone
thow did not spair
thy angells fair
but punisch'd sair
thair pride and banisch'd them out of thy throne
and put them clein away
out of thy sicht
preferring dust and clay
to angels bricht.

One would think, too, that even readers who do not share her religious beliefs could share both her sense of loneliness in the world and her exultation at the thought of heavenly justice:

Thou tramps proud tirrants down
under thy feit
and plucks from kings thair crown
quhen thou thinks meit
the humble men
exalts thou then
and lifts the lowlie hairt above the sky
The proud at last
thou dois down cast
and heirs the puir opprest quhen they do cry.

Thanks to Baxter's efforts, there is now an inscribed flagstone commemorating her as one of Scotland's great writers in Makars' Court, Edinburgh, with a quotation from her long poem "Ane Godlie Dreame":

"Though tyrants threat, though Lyons rage and rore
Defy them all, and feare not to win out".

It has taken too long for Melville's poetry to "win out" from obscurity, but now that we have it in an accessible volume, it's well worth getting to know.


Science in Sport REGO 500g Chocolate REGO Rapid Recovery
Science in Sport REGO 500g Chocolate REGO Rapid Recovery
Price: £7.45

3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what it says on the tin, 8 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This review is from the point of view of an endurance runner and may not be relevant to all other sports.

The chocolate flavour version is not unpleasant to drink and tastes a little like cold drinking chocolate. However its main claim (it’s there on the container) is that it is a “complete recovery product”. That is a strong claim and one that bears further consideration.

After a long endurance training run, the main consideration for an athlete is hydration and this product is not aimed at that. Blood sugar levels can also fall dramatically in the course of a long run and SiS REGO is of little help there, for what is needed is a high sugar supplement – e.g. glucose gel or tablets.

Carbohydrates are the main energy source for any athlete. The human body can store somewhere in the region of 500g of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. 100g of which is stored in the liver and 400g is stored in the muscles. After a long run or race, these carbohydrate reserves need to be replenished and, again, there are better ways of doing that than using this product. 22 grams of carbohydrate from a serving of this product is a start, but a 50 kilo runner will need somewhere in the order of 330 grams in a day.

It is also claimed that it helps muscles recover after exercise. To some extent that may be true, but one of the main issue for endurance runners is combating the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles and this product seems unlikely to do much about that. I have always found that this is best achieved by proper warm-down procedures, with rest and recovery as part of a structured training routine.

For those who are fans of supplements, I am sure that this product will meet some of their needs. However, it is not a substitute for a balanced diet and a structured training regime appropriate to your sport.


The Same Roads Back
The Same Roads Back
by Frank Dullaghan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise and adventure, 7 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Same Roads Back (Paperback)
Frank Dullaghan's first collection, On the Back of the Wind, was much concerned with childhood memories and family relationships, which is arguably a theme particularly associated with the Irish poetic tradition from which he comes. At that time, the place where he now lives, Dubai, had not really begun to surface in his writing.

The Same Roads Back marks a definite shift. It does in fact begin with a section of family-memory poems, centred this time around himself and his mother, rather than the father who dominated his first book. Dullaghan always handles this material deftly, unsentimentally and often with a touch of humour (as in his confounding of the policeman in "Border Boy") which serves to individualise them. But because there isn't exactly a shortage of this kind of poem, it is a theme that creates few surprises for the reader. The more the impact, then, when we suddenly come on a vein of wayward, surreal imagery in poems like "She Puts On The Dark", "The Fridge Inside Her", "Turning", "A Man Falling":

the pavement slowly
climbing towards his
speeding brain,
each grain of air lost
to him in passing.
As he dips under
the street lamp, his
shadow leaps from him,
its open arms ready
to receive him

And it's almost as if writing this kind of poem then permanently frees something up in him, because when we get on to the next group of poems, set in places like the Emirates, Egypt, Syria and Tripoli, the language and imagery are not just exact but memorable. In "Naming the Stars: Syria 2013" we see

the wall
ripped from a neighbour's house,

the wind reading his books

while in "The Heartache Café"

That old man in the corner is made of glass.
He is cracked from the heart to the head.
If he moves he will shatter, glitter
across the floor like ice.

I found the Arab Spring poems particularly memorable; after all, it isn't a subject many English-language poets have yet written about, let alone from so close to the scene. But it's also interesting to see, for the first time, poems emerging from his work as a financial lawyer (I wonder what it says about poets that it took the world financial crash to make this a subject that inspired him). Poems like "Winter Field" and "The Crash" are hugely unusual in their subject matter; almost no poets write about business, and it's maybe telling that their most memorable moments are the images from other lexical fields in which he expresses the financial crash:

Everyone wants to be paid
but we have no money.
They call me. What can I say?
I see the wedge cut out of the trunk
as I stand in the tree's shadow.
It is tilting towards me.
I hear its pain, can feel
the snap and rip of its fibres
before they explode.

In the collection's final poem, "The Wide Ocean of the Sky", family concerns and the financial crash merge as the poet addresses his wife:

After the violent storm, wreckage floats to the top.
We gather what we can of our financial flotsam,
back in Dubai, starting over: this rented apartment,

the two of us smoothing clean sheets across a bed.
What else do we need but the surprise of each other?
We know about wealth: it grows on the trees.

"Surprise" is a keynote of the language, imagery and themes of this collection. Later in the same poem, speaking of his and his wife's shared future, he says "What an adventure we shall make of it". Judging by what is here, the same may be true of his future writing.


Obsidian Mirror, 3: The Door in the Moon
Obsidian Mirror, 3: The Door in the Moon
by Catherine Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just gets more and more gripping...., 5 Feb. 2015
If you're reading this, you've probably already read the first two books in the Chronoptika series, The Obsidian Mirror and The Box of Red Brocade. Briefly however, for anyone who's not caught up: there is a house called Wintercombe Abbey, in a wood populated by the beautiful but dangerously non-human Shee. The house contains an obsidian mirror, which is a time portal, and a number of ill-assorted persons, not all human and not all from the same time, who have conflicting designs on the mirror. Sarah, from the future, wants to destroy it, having seen what harm it will do there. Venn and Jake want to preserve and use it to rescue loved ones dead or trapped in the past. Maskelyne wants it for purposes unspecified but probably to do with power. Others in the house are uncommitted.

The first book was set in winter, the second in spring, and in the third we have arrived at Midsummer Eve. Those who've read them will recall also that the first, which was much concerned with Jake and his missing father, was haunted by quotes from, and references to, Hamlet, while the second, in which the corruption of power emerged more strongly, was similarly haunted by Macbeth. But behind both was another Shakespearean influence plainly lurking, that of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and in this volume it comes into its own.

Those who use the mirror are now getting more skilled at it, in particular Moll, the Victorian urchin whom Jake met in vol 1 and who makes a welcome reappearance here. And the fact that they can now do more of what they want means they have to think harder about whether they should. Several of the characters, in this volume, are troubled by conscience and conflicting duties, and those with dual natures, like Venn and Gideon, are faced with choices between them. In this the volume mirrors its Shakespearean inspiration: the Dream is all about choices and loyalties.

As usual, the action moves between different times and locations: the Abbey, the unfathomable Wood that itself contains worlds, and a very believable and exciting Paris at the time of the Terror. And as usual, I read it far too fast because it was so gripping: the lure of "what happens next" was as strong as ever. Now I'm going back to savour the actual writing, in particular the mesmerising evocation of the Shee and their Wood:

The Shee came down round him in clouds. He watched how some of them stayed butterflies and how others transformed, wholly or in part, to the pale tall people he had seen before, their clothes now brilliant scarlets and turquoises and oranges. With soft rustles and crackles their bodies unfolded. Abdomen and antennae became skin and smile.

Quite apart from being invested in the characters and what happens to them – Gideon, in some danger at the end of the volume, Wharton, looking more and more like the representative of human decency, the irrepressible Moll - the vividly described locations make this perhaps Fisher's most gripping project for some time. Only one to go now, and it's beginning to sound as if that one will have to travel, at least for part of the time, into the far future from which Sarah comes and which we haven't yet seen first-hand. Can't wait.


Wasp
Wasp
by Ian Garbutt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but with some rough edges, 8 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Wasp (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Set in the time of George III, this deals with a sort of upmarket bordello/escort agency in which a number of damaged characters are gathered, some trying to forget their pasts, others to reclaim them. This scenario leads to a lot of explanatory flashbacks, and those who find them confusing might care to note that the flashbacks are in past tense, while current action is in present tense. They're easy enough to distinguish once you notice this: nevertheless, I found some of them irritating interruptions to the story-in-progress.

This is, generally, pacy and readable, with characters in whom one can easily become interested. However, I didn't entirely buy into the concept of the House of Masques (sounded unnecessarily complex and their prices must be astronomical to recoup the running costs) and there are times when things happen because the plot demands it, rather than because they naturally would. For instance, at one point a woman sees something through a half-open door. It is necessary to the plot that she should, but unfortunately, given what is going on in the room, the door simply wouldn't BE half-open if the people inside had their wits in place, which we've been led to believe they do.

There are also times when the idiom slips and people say things in what doesn't seem an appropriate way for their class or time (the consistent misuse of "like" for "as", in people who are not bucolic yokels, feels wrong). I found the ending a bit rushed, so much so that I was unsure exactly what had become of the doctor, who was probably the best-realised character in the book. I found the male characters more realised, and more interesting, than the women, whose back-stories are in some ways very alike. I'd have liked the book to go more into the politics of the time, too.

I don't want to be too harsh; it is readable and sometimes uses language very well - eg an impoverished young woman's description of a fancy tea room|; "It's like being inside a cake". Though then again, you get over-ambitious images like "the cabin groaned like an old maid under the wind's hard hand" - eh? Why would an old maid groan any differently from a mother of six, pray? I might be hard to please, simply because I know a couple of authors who write hist fic really, really well. This author is certainly talented and promising, but I think he will write a better book than this.


Tacwise A54 Heavy Duty Hammer Tacker
Tacwise A54 Heavy Duty Hammer Tacker
Price: £27.84

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says, but think what you need first, 1 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Another review courtesy of my husband, who does all the DIY around here.

This is a heavy duty piece of equipment, which is perfect if you need to some serious tacking. It is a "hammer" that you preload with staples, hammer what you want to fix and, hey presto, the staple is driven into the surface. I practiced on a piece of wood and the supplied 10 mm staples were driven all the way into the wood.

It does what it is meant to do. But so do other "hammer-tackers"; so how does it compare.

The description on the Amazon site states that the item weight is 2.2kg, but this includes the supplied staples. Without the staples the actual weight of the hammer is 0.965kg. This puts it in the same range as a number of other similar tools available on Amazon (Arrow HT50, Arrow HTX50, Stanley OPHT150, Stanley 0PHT350 FatMax Xl).

How does it compare on price with these, and others?
Tacwise A54 (with 5,000 staples) - £43.00
Tacwise A54 (without staples) - £33.80 - note, a box of 2,000, 10 mm staples costs £3.95
Tacwise A11 - £22.00
Arrow HT50 - £38.47
Arrow HTX50 - £40.02
Stanley OPHT150 - £17.75
Stanley 0PHT350 FatMax Xl - £30.84
Rapid R311 - £32.94

The Tacwise A54 is mid-range, as far as price is concerned. If you are unlikely to use 5,000 staples, save yourself some money, buy it without the "free" staples and buy a box of 2,000.

My only gripe with Tacwise, is the lack of any information leaflet. If you have never used a hammer-tacker before, a little guidance would be useful. The minimal packaging (in some respects to be applauded) has four small images that provide some, but not enough, guidance.

If you need a heavy duty hammer-tacker, this is as good a buy as any. There are much cheaper ones available, but these are for lighter tasks. So, when making a buying choice, consider carefully what you really need. Do you really require a heavy-duty implement or can you get away with a staple gun (which is easier to handle, more accurate and much cheaper)?


The Cost of Keys
The Cost of Keys
by Sue Rose
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Strands of blood and words, 16 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Cost of Keys (Paperback)
Some time ago, I reviewed Sue Rose's chapbook Heart Archives, published by Hercules Editions. It was then a sequence of 14 sonnets, inspired by Boltanski’s Les Archives du Coeur, a long-term project to record heartbeats and store them on a Japanese island. The sonnets were each accompanied by a photo of something meaningful to Rose, taken with an iPhone, her own archival device - a multi-media project, then.

Now the sequence, expanded to 21 poems, has become part of a full-length collection, The Cost of Keys, Rose's second from Cinnamon. (Her first, From The Dark Room, was reviewed here.) Here the poems must stand alone, without the photographs, which they do perfectly well, though the reading experience is obviously different - less immediate, wore worked-for.

Heart Archives ends a collection which moves seamlessly through various themes and images. The "keys" of the title poem, which are door keys, morph in the next poem into piano keys, which in turn lead on to other musical instruments in the succeeding poems. Other leitmotifs develop and run through the book: water in various forms, photography, islands, above all, memories and archives. What is it, by the way, with keys in titles all of a sudden? Jean Sprackland's Sleeping Keys, Marianne Burton's She Inserts The Key, now this?

The description of that title-poem key:

Like a flag cast in iron, a stiff wind
caught in its holes and grooves

sets a tone for the collection: an exact, unexpected image that gives an immediate sensory impression. This happens again and again, making for a very visual, tactile read - the image of Murano glass "like bonbons, poisonous with sugar" not only comes alive off the page but, as an effective image should, slants our vision of the object. Another constant tactic is the merging of present with past and future, and this is very skilfully done indeed. At the beginning of "Guided Tour", we could be in the ruins of Pompeii or Herculaneum; by the second verse, doubt creeps in and by the third we know we are looking back from the far future at our own time or something very near it. Later we shall meet "Herculaneum" as a poem title, plus "Time Capsule", and both hint back at this poem. And in "Time Lapse", the year's exposure of a Toronto skyline recorded with a pinhole camera and

saved
for eternity in the ether
while being erased
forever by the hot glare
of a scanner

transports us straight back to Herculaneum. By the end, we have a very strong sense of continuity, of the strands of blood, history, cultural imagery that bind our present to the past and will bind our future to our present.

The verbal skill throughout this collection, in fact, is impressive. She's also quite brave, using words like "palimpsest" and "cadences" that some critic will surely object to as "too poetic". Well, prove they don't work in the context, say I, and the only time I did think something could have been said in a fresher way was the "snowfield" bedsheet and "ice" heart of "Lacrimoso".

There is a lot of bearing witness in this collection, and many people who aren't alive any more. Yet I would not call it nostalgic; what is gone is not idealised and the poet's insistence on memory comes with the consciousness that nothing remembered can wholly die and that there is no need to "escape" to the past, because it is part of the present. The final poem of the chapbook "Heart Archives is still the poem with which she chooses to sign off both that sequence and this collection: "D25072049", in which she recognises that our immortality lies in human memory:

The vessel for my remains
will be those who carry part of me
in their histories.

The down-to-earth tone there is typical: as in her first collection, this is a poet who can use deeply personal, emotive material and still avoid sentimentality or self-pity.


Till We Meet Again: A Bamforth Gift Book of WW1 Postcard Images (Bamforth Gift Books)
Till We Meet Again: A Bamforth Gift Book of WW1 Postcard Images (Bamforth Gift Books)
by Bamforth & Co
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gentle Weader Fwows Up, 10 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a collection of 37 images from picture postcards sent to and from the front in World War 1. There's no introduction and no way of telling how typical they are, which I think is somewhat important, because they are mostly pretty much alike and it's impossible to tell whether this is down to a biased selection or a true reflection of what was being sent at the time.

I rather hope it wasn't the latter, because although the artwork is attractive enough, the words - mostly verses - are mawkish in the extreme, especially those being sent from home to the front. A few focus on the feelings of sweethearts or elderly parents, and these are quite tolerable; there is a pretty and appealing one with a picture of a young woman dreaming of her soldier, with the verse

There is ever and ever so much to say
When I write to my soldier so far away:
Perhaps I shall tell it all some day!

- which may not be deathless verse but is positively inspired compared with most of what's here. Another has an old couple reading a letter from a son, and has the good taste not to include a verse at all, just the words "News from the front".

Most of them, however, focus on children writing to absent fathers and are frankly nauseating, often going so far as to be written in a childlike lisp:

Me can't be always laughing, all the night and all the day,
I's tinking of my daddy and he is so far away.
Big tears will come altho' I twy to be so good and smile,
But I must tink of Dad dis way, just evwy lickle while.

- this below a picture of a grossly chubby toddler with its finger in its mouth and tears on its face. When the reader has done fwowing up at this mawkishness, it can't help but occur to mind that such stuff cannot possibly have done anything for the morale of the soldiers - the message "everyone at home is crying their eyes out" sounds like an incentive to desert, if anything. Unfortunately this is fairly typical of the cards featuring children.

It's notable that the texts on cards intended for soldiers to send back home are far more down to earth and cheerful, which suggests that the manufacturers didn't think they could palm off such sentimental twaddle on grown men, but did think it would appeal to the women who would mainly have been buying them at home.Maybe the particular kind of women who were busy presenting white feathers to teenage boys to bully them into enlisting were indeed that sentimental; bellicose bullies often are, but I suspect that by and large the commercial notion of what women wanted was as patronising and mistaken then as it often is now. I would hope that there were, in fact, also humorous, cheerful, unsentimental cards being sent to the front, but if there were, they are not represented here. We know that the poems and newspaper written by men at the front contained a great deal of biting humour and frivolity; it's hard to believe there was none of that in the postcard trade.


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