Six Old-Fashioned Stories
A COLLECTION OF STORIES ABOUT 20th CENTURY WORLD WAR EXPERIENCED FROM THE SIDELINES
PUBLISHED EXCLUSIVELY IN SUPPORT OF WATERAID.
The two wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 defined the twentieth century and determined its course. In these short fictions I’ve drawn on true tales from both sides of my own family, fictionalised as the Conroys in Lancashire and the Mooneys in Cork, to show how war affects daily life.
For both families, there is heightened tension, anxiety and discord, and many forebodings of imminent danger and loss. On occasion loyalty is tested against more personal feelings. In 'Pals', set during the First World War, Francis Conroy is drawn to a handsome butcher's boy, who does him an unusual service. In 'Gunpowder' his brother Vincent defends the honour of Guy Fawkes to a hostile audience one November the Fifth. 'A Lifeboat' plays out in Ireland, where Wren Dora finds violence and danger to be horribly real in the deathly cold of the Irish Sea and, in 'Traitors', a few years later, killings in the Civil War come much too close for the comfort of the wealthy Mooney family. The last two stories are set in the Second World War: 'Battleships' tells how 15-year-old James Mooney is doubly traumatised in a psychiatric clinic while, in 'Optimistic Shields', a young secretary is buffeted by sexual cross-currents after being assigned to naval intelligence headquarters.
Why have I published this book for WaterAid? For a century my family in Accrington, Lancashire, manufactured the Blake Hydram, a water supply pump powered by the renewable energy of water itself. WaterAid is an international charity working to provide water where it is needed across the developing world. In many rural communities, as a result of chronic drought and world climate conditions, water in is often far away and/or dangerously unsanitary, and as a result many farming families are forced off the land and into the uncertainty of migration. Their safety, economic stability and happiness are enormously improved by having clean water near at hand.
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