Sunday, 24 August 2014

Writing - The duty of writers.

What's in a name


As purveyors of the written word we spend a significant amount of time considering names. They may be purely fictitious, place names or fantasy names but whatever we need to spend time in choosing them because they are the handle on which we hang our stories. This place is a real village, Upper Slaughter, and it has a unique distinction.


Upper Slaughter, Cotswolds

The mass slaughter of 1914-18 robbed the UK of a million lives, leaving no part of the country untouched. But there was a tiny handful of settlements where all those who served returned home.
With its rows of ramshackle yellow stone cottages, set amid undulating Cotswold hills, the village of Upper Slaughter belies the violence of its name.
In hazy autumn sunlight, this corner of Gloucestershire might well have been rendered in watercolour. All the components of tourist-brochure Britain are here - the red phone box, the winding lanes, the wisteria draped around the windows.
But one normally ubiquitous feature is missing. Unlike the overwhelming majority of British settlements, Upper Slaughter has no war memorial.
Instead, tucked away in the village hall are two modest wooden plaques. They celebrate the men, and one woman, from the village who served in both world wars and, in every case, returned home.
For it is not only its postcard charm that offers pacific contrast to the name Upper Slaughter. It is that rarest of British locations, a "thankful village" - the term coined in the 1930s by the writer Arthur Mee to describe the handful of communities which suffered no military fatalities in World War I.


Arthur Mee 1875 - 1943

Arthur Mee was a non-fiction writer and journalist, his best known work was probably The Children's Encyclopaedia. He identified 52 'thankful villages' 14 of which became doubly thankful when they lost nobody to war in either 20th century conflict.

In carrying out research or just reading about the past it is remarkable the number of writers of 'other stuff' who record significant and fascinating events. Seems obvious doesn't it but it also perhaps means that as writers we have a duty to record our blogs and articles on current affairs and other fascinating happenings. It's also good practice.

God Bless