I Got an Itch....for something a little different
So last summer I'm in my garden, digging over a muddy puddle to turn it in to a lawn. I should explain I have a three year old golden retriever, called Hero, who as a puppy developed a love of tearing up my garden and digging craters which I'm sure if left to his devices would end up leading to the core of the earth! Hence I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to repair the damage and create something that could be considered garden like.
Anyway as I'm digging away my mind wandered to memories of my Granddad Joe, who in my opinion was a great gardener. He taught me what I know about plants and growing things. Most of my memories of him are in his garden. I started wondering why my granddad loved his garden so much and I slowly realised that his garden was his way of coping with stress, possibly PTSD.
|WO Joseph Robinson|
At 18 my Granddad had joined the RAF, war was being fought over Europe and he volunteered to do his bit, as was often said. As he wasn't a tall man, around five foot six, he was chosen to be a tail gunner in the Lancaster bomber. He was placed with an Anglo American Crew and they were part of 576 squadron. On the 24/25 March 1944, he undertook a bombing mission over Berlin. This became known as 'The Night of the Strong Winds' and his plane was blown off course. Under attack inside the Ruhr Defences the plane came down. Joe parachuted out of the plane and landed in enemy territory. Found by a farmer he was handed over to the Gestapo and spent the rest of the war in POW camps until he took part in 'The March' which forced POW's to march from camp to camp. On this march Joe managed to escape and was found at the end of the war taking refuge in a potato field.
|Granddad Joe in his Garden|
When he returned home to his family and his wife, he returned to civilian life, he worked for a building firm and raised his family until he passed away in 1995, much loved. In all the time I spent with him during my childhood he rarely spoke of his experiences. The stories he did tell me were sugar coated and film like, not sharing the actual horrors he would have experienced.
After researching in to what he would have experienced and how those things effected other survivors I realised that for my granddad the way he learned to cope and manage his stress and pain was to channel all his emotions in to his garden, it helped him heal.
With this in mind I wanted to write something in his honour, to tell a story of what it was like to find a way to cope with the horrors and live an amazing and happy life. So came the itch, I had tried multiple times to write a period piece based on the story of LM471, only it didn't really work and the words didn't flow.
Then as I pushed the spade in to the mud and turned it over my brain started ticking and a story started forming, so after a hot shower to remove all the mud, I sat with my laptop and wrote down the tumble of images in my head and what came out was not my usual style of writing.
Discussing my idea with a friend she loved the idea I had fleshed out and ever so politely demanded I put pen to paper. So with a lot of cajoling and harassment I started developing "The Poppy Garden"