People say to confront your fears and they will recede. Well I can definitely say that this is not the case. I’ve always hated flying and I’ve flown 37 times. Flight 37 was every bit as terrifying as flight 27, 17 and 7. I think everyone would agree I have given flying more than a fair shot to know whether I like it or not.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here before but I absolutely detest public speaking, I have long had a phobia about it. So much so that it would make me physically ill, often in the bushes on the way to the bus stop or in the toilets at university or work.
You coudn’t find someone who hated public speaking more than I or indeed any sort of attention. Yet somehow I’ve ended up on the television and radio multiple times and as some of you might remember, started this year working on a video for the CWGC (Commonwealth Wargraves Commission). You can check it out on this post here, scroll down a little and there it is.
I’m a real introvert (see my post Speaking Up For Introverts) I never even use the phone, certainly not to call anyone and if anyone wants to contact me, I have email and that goes for business too. Thankfully I am a prolific emailer and something of a writer.
As such it was with some alarm that I was contacted a week ago and asked if I would be willing to work out and read out a reading on Sunday for the annual Remembrance Sunday comemoration service for Leavesden village Memorial. Apparently I’m something of a pillar of the community which is, I find, a little disconcerting!! I like to help people but am more of the seen and not heard variety.
Just a month ago, I gave a Jack The Ripper tour to 60 school children and I assumed after that this might be the hardest public speaking engagement I would have all year.
I’m all ready nervous about my reading on Sunday, and have been for about a week now. It’s not easy being green, as Kermit the Frog once sang. Nor is it easy having an unusual, nominal talent whilst being very happy to live as a hermit! Would I get all these requests if I was a bus driver or toilet cleaner? I’d have thought being a writer-tour guide would be equally inoccuous but it seems not.
On the plus side it gives me a chance to honour my ancestors on this special day and if I can help the wider community or maybe even inspire some of the children who will be there then that of course is a wonderful thing to do and an honour in itself.
I didn’t ask to do it but then the millions who fought and died likely weren’t too keen to go off and fight and die to give their more wimpy descendants like myself the opportunity to live the life we do. Compared to their sacrifices, it is a trifle but when you have a phobia about things, it doesn’t help. I’ve travelled before in places that are hotspots to say the least which others wouldn’t visit due to war or violence and that honestly didn’t bother me, yet sometimes shock others when I tell them. They no doubt wouldn’t have a problem with giving a short reading as I happily take a taxi drive through Baghdad.
Nevertheless, unless I can get an urgent flight to eastern Ukraine, it seems I am rather up the creek!
As you can see from the photo below, we have a nice new memorial which was unveiled and replaced the old one in 2014.
Before the war they had jobs that revolved around the farms. Many looked after horses or cows. Ernest Farley whose father was the vicar of Leavesden, was a chauffuer whilst Albert Martin made a living by hand painting coaches. Captain John Neligan was a doctor from Dublin and he served on a hospital train, dying from Dysentry in Egypt
My blog is full of WW1 and Armistice Day related posts from the last 4 or 5 years and I have written two books on the subject.
Lest We Forget is available in Kindle and Paperback formats in all good on-line outlets and literary stores too. The Kindle version is published by Endeavour Press of London, one of the world’s leading digital publishers. The paperback version is available too for those folk like me who prefer an excellent book and the paperback includes a number of maps and archive photos as well as some personal photos of my family members who like millions of others, fought for our freedom only never to return home.
You can order Lest We Forget: A Concise Companion to the First World War from Amazon.com in Kindle for $4.58and paperback for $9.99 and Amazon.co.uk in Kindle for £2.99 and paperback for £6.99 and other Amazons around the world.
In The Footsteps of Heroes comes about as a result of on-site research into Lest We Forget and provides a casual photo guide to the main British and Commonwealth locations of the Western Front.
My books are also available direct from their respective publishers and also through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and Createspace. You can also purchase this book through Apple iBooks store by clicking on the logo below.