My Christmas Presents

Well, I did rather well for presents this  Christmas. This is hardly the place to mention the ice-cream making machine, with which I have already created both a refreshing rosewater sorbet and a sick-makingly rich peach ice cream; but a couple of my other presents are more relevant to the concerns of this blog.

I was given a huge book of Punch cartoons, for example, which includes this – probably my favourite Great War cartoon:


I was also given another very welcome picture book – Richard Holmes’s Shots from the Front.

This is  a spin-off from Holmes’s Tommy, and contains a marvelous variety of photos. All the predictable scenes are there, but so are some unexpected ones. I’ve blogged before about a Times news item that caught my eye, which described officers with time on their hands in France who took their packs of hounds over for a spot of hunting.


Holmes’s book hincludes this  photograph, and explains that the irritated French civil authorities  “mumbled unhelpfully about ‘chasse gardée'”. Eventually, apparently, a brigadier general broke his pelvis, and hunts were banned by GHQ.

If that sort of detail interests you (as it does me) you’ll greatly appreciate this book.

My book of the year, however is Adrian Gregory’s The Last Great War, a work of terrific scholarship (which I appreciate all the more for having gone over some of the same ground myself. It renders all previous books about the Home Front pretty well obsolete, and I’ll post a full review of it in a couple of days, when I’ve finished it.


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