Hetty – The Shift

“It’s a Shift” Hetty exclaimed in horror, looking at the picture in the wedding magazine her sister had shown her.

“Its beautiful, just the thing to complement my dress.” Claire said turning to a picture of a wedding dress. “What do you think?”. Hetty was not about to tell her. It looked like Cinderella’s ballgown and she was expected to wear a simple shift, they would look like Cinderella before and after.

“I think the shift would make me look pregnant, your gown would just make the comparison more marked. Don’t you think white with tiny flowers would get lost against your dress.” Hetty said tactfully.

“But it’s my wedding and I need to stand out, you are there to just hold my flowers. Anyway I have made an appointment at the bridal shop for tomorrow so we can try dresses on.”

There was just no arguing with Claire, you had to tactfully steer her in the right direction or thats what she told Fred that night.

“Waste of money,” was Fred’s comment. “ Is she pregnant, don’t see why she needs to get married at her age. She’s what two years younger than you.”

“She doesn’t want it spreed about, but yes. Thats why its such a rush. Ten weeks isn’t long enough to plan a proper wedding.”

“Still don’t see why she needs to get married. They are going to have to rent a flat privately, if I was Edward I would Put my foot down, save the money and spend it on the new home.”

“We have a flat, if I got pregnant wouldn’t you want a good wedding day?” Asked Hetty.

“Getting pregnant isn’t a good reason to get married. The lads at the pub all have children and none of them are married. It’s just a waste of money, better things to do with the money than buying clothes you would only wear once and feeding hordes of people you only met at funerals.”

“Don’t you ever want to get married? It’s a way of making a commitment to each other. Jack at the pub has four children by 3 mothers so he hasn’t made a commitment to anyone.”

“But Jack’s happy. I just think weddings are a waste of money and time.”

Hetty felt hurt by Fred’s views but perhaps he would change his mind in time.

“I suppose it could be worse she could expect me to wear baby pink. Pink is just not my colour. You are coming to the wedding aren’t you?”

“What and miss a good knees up. Your Dad’s paying for all the drinks isn’t he?”

Hetty didn’t repeat the conversation to Claire next day at the bridal shop. Claire’s dress came first. It had to be a fairy tale dress, she tried on 4 and picked the one with the biggest skirt and most frills. Next it was Hetty’s turn to try on the dresses Claire had selected for her. Claire had obviously thought about their conversation of yesterday. She had decided against a shift. Her preferred choice was cerise with frills round the bottom and the neck line. Not at all the sort of dress Hetty liked but as Claire was not going to be shifted on style or colour. She reflected maybe Fred was right about spending money on clothes you would never wear again.

If ever she got married which didn’t seem likely, she would make Claire wear a dress in a colour and style that didn’t suit her.


Have just returned from a visit to Ypres in the company of my brother and my nephew. It was a moving experience. We stayed in Hooge just outside Ypres, a amazing place. The grounds of the hotel was the front line and what is now a lake was a crater created by mining and a bomb explosion. It was the place that the Germans first used flame throwers. We visited the Hooge Crater Cemetery it has nearly 6000 graves many have the remains of move than one soldiers all unnamed. Hooge is such a small hamlet for such large tragic event.

The object of our visit was to visit the memorials to my Grandads brothers one on Tyne Cot and the other on Thiepval memorials. It was emotional finding their names. Visiting the Passendale museum with their reconstruction trenches helped to reinforce the futility of war. The thousands of names and graves at Tyne Cot, Thiepval and the Menin Gate are just a fraction of the lives lost. We went to one of the moving daily services held at the Menin gate. Let’s not forget the fallen and take time to remember the events of over hundred years.

We also used the diaries of 1/8 Royal Warwickshire diaries to find where my Grandad was in the trenches, La plus Douve Farm. It was moving to imagine his experiences by reading the diaries. In the diaries it just says 1 private killed with no names so I photographed the graves to add to my transcript of the diaries. Imagine my surprise when getting back to find the first soldier killed in his regiment at la Douve trenches was Walter Rainsford who’s sister had lived next door to my Uncle in Kidderminster. I wondered if Grandad had realised the connection when he spoke to Miss Rainsford.

Now I am working on transcribing the diaries and adding the names of the soldiers killed as a way of remembering the fallen that were in my grandads regiment.