While I was looking out at the garden during the two minutes silence, a montage was playing in mind and I realised how much of my knowledge and feeling about WW1 is due to art, not education. Formal education, I mean. I did History at O-level and by Christ it was dull. Not only that, it finished with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. So I might remember Arkwright's Spinning Jenny and the repeal of the Corn Laws, but nothing much else. And it was taught by an absolutely terrifying person, tweed-clad and heavily-moustached. She had a slight speech thing and couldn't manage "r". There was a story that she once reprimanded an unfortunate (reprimand was her favourite teaching method) by saying "Really, Rosemary, you write reams and reams of rubbish" and the entire class had to endure the rest of the lesson with blood trickling from their lips in their efforts not to laugh. (Apart from the wretched Rosemary, who was in a pool on the floor) It was also solemnly reported that she had no home of her own and slept in one of the attics, with only the ghost of Lady Cornwallis for company. (Lady Cornwallis being a previous incumbent of the building, not an old flame...) I remember a particularly hysterical conversation where we speculated about how she spent her time - "And..and...I bet she only ever listens to the NEWS on the radio.." and I worked out how she could station-hop to arrange this newsfest.
Although the passage of time has brought me more understanding of the human condition, I remain let down by both her teaching methods and the curriculum.
Luckily there is art - mostly poems, books, films for me. Oh and songs. So when I stand on Armistice Day I hear the poetry of Owen, Sassoon, Graves; the songs of Novello and Weston and Lee. I see the books of Vera Brittain, the splendid BBC dramatisation of Testament of Youth and the final scenes from Blackadder Goes Forth
and I remember