We will remember them: three tributes marking the centenary commemoration of the First World War

“As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”

~ from The Fallen by Laurence Binyon


Armistice Day is always a very important time for commemoration and remembrance. This year it takes on even more significance as we honour the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Here are three short films which contribute powerfully to all the millions of words written and tears shed over the years.

First is this beautifully-shot film about poet Wilfred Owen. It marks the centenary of his death 100 years ago today (4 November). You can read more about Owen and the inspiration behind the making of the film here.


Second is Hub’s latest video about the building of his model railway. In recent weeks, he has been constructing from scratch a monument to those killed in both world wars and here you can see the outcome:


And finally, this is the trailer for Peter Jackson’s film They Shall Not Grow Old. It is a moving tribute to all those who fought. Jackson wanted to close the gap between now and then, to bring closer to us the very human aspect of the Great War. He and his team worked on original footage shot in the trenches and surrounding areas to improve the quality and timing, and by adding colour. The narration was taken entirely from BBC interviews with survivors of the war in the 1960s. Hub and I saw the world premier in our local cinema a couple of weeks ago and it really is incredible. It is due to be shown on the BBC at 9:30pm on 11 November. I hope it will then be available worldwide. If you get a chance to see it, I urge you to do so.


“As bronze may be much beautified by lying in the dark damp soil, so men who fade in dust of warfare fade fairer, and sorrow blooms their soul.”

~ Wilfred Owen, The Poems Of Wilfred Owen



Poppies – Digital Image ©Liz Humphreys 2018

Six degrees of separation: From The Tipping Point to Doctor Zhivago

Six Degrees of Separation is a meme hosted by Kate on her blog Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month, a book is chosen as a starting point. Players then publish their own chain, linking the first book six others. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the others on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The links can be a tenuous and tangential as you like!

And as a bonus this month, I have created a playlist to accompany my book links on my LeapingTracks music blog.

This month’s starting point is Malcolm Gladwell’s non-fiction book The Tipping Point. I have this on my shelf and read it ages ago when it first came out in paperback. It is an excellent read, with many fascinating insights.

On the back cover, it says that the book is about “that magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviour cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire”. So taking magic as my link to the first book in this sequence, my next choice is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I adore this book and flick through it regularly. It is full of wisdom about the importance and joys of maximising creativity in our lives. I wrote about this in more detail here.

There’s another form of magic for my second link: my first encounter with magic as a child was reading Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. How marvellous it seemed to find oneself in an enchanted wood, with a tree which provides a gateway to mystical lands. I loved reading about Moonface and all the other inhabitants of the faraway tree, although I must admit to having a few nightmares about being left forever in one of the lands when it turned away from the tree’s portal. No wonder the memory of this book has stayed with me for more than 40 years!

Mention of Moonface gives me my next link to Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. This is one of my current reads – I want to read, or re-read all five books on the Golden Booker Prize shortlist before I vote.

One of Lively’s main characters in this book is called Jasper and the title makes me think of Tiger’s Eye. So my mind is very firmly on gemstones taking me to my next link, The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor – an incredible true story about a Viennese Jewish society lady and her relationship with a now-famous painting and the Nazis.

Vienna is the setting of, and therefore the link to, my next book, which is The Third Man by Graham Greene, a brilliant thriller based around the murder of Harry Lime. Some herald the film of this book as one of the greatest of all time. Certainly it must have one of the most memorable theme tunes. So, for my final leap, I lean on another soundtrack-related link. Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago is one of my favourite books, and perhaps my favourite ever film, not least because of its musical themes.

And there you have it. A book about human relationships and behaviours in non-fiction form eventually leads us rather nicely to a novel about the same thing. Nice! 🙂