Mab Jones

Dear Soldier,

I’m sorry not to know your name, and include it here. They said I should write you a letter. I am trying hard to imagine who you are, and where you are, but I am so caught up in my own time and place that I find it very difficult.

I know, most probably, that you are young. Much younger than myself (though I pretend I am Not This Age, sometimes). You are a teenager, perhaps. I wonder if you were anything like I was – bored, frustrated, dying to get away. Is that why you signed up? I don’t blame you, I think I would have done the same. If you’re from Ely in Cardiff, same as myself, well, I’ve seen the old pictures, and there was hardly anything there, at that time. Booo-ring! I admire you for wanting to get out and go see the world. I’d have signed up like a shot with you. Er, if they had let girls do that back then (!).

Of course I realise that the grandiose vistas you imagined never quite materialised. Mostly you were en-trenched (ha ha!) and stuck in rut (lol!). I have read about the rats, both black and brown, which grew to the size of cats, and the various kinds of gas which were developed and came clambering over the sides of the trenches like Dementors from Harry Potter to smother you. Snipers snipped short the lives of your friends, each and every day. You called the daily stand-to-arms ‘the Morning Hate’. I find that very inventive. It’s almost funny…! But, not quite.

Perhaps when you returned, as I did, to the nodding, bald-headed hills of Wales, you weren’t so annoyed by their slow-seeping sleepiness. Maybe it was a relief. Maybe, like me, you finally realised their worth. Maybe. I hope that you came back, of course. But perhaps you never did.

I’m sorry this letter couldn’t be more enthused. I am writing this from a comfy couch in my living room, and I don’t know what it’s like to be surrounded by death. My aunt got murdered, a few years ago, but I never saw the corpse. I guess… I’ll just remind you again about the greenish hills, and the sometimes-blue sky, and the merry, mud-coloured little rivers. It’s a kind of beauty, I suppose. I hope you get to see it again.

Best Welsh wishes,

Mab x