Thursday, October 30, 2008

Memorials to the Missing:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Egypt

Memorials to the Missing is a BBC radio play by Stephen Wyatt which has won both a Silver for Drama Sony Radio Academy Award 2008 and the Tinniswood Award for best original radio script broadcast in 2007.

It was repeated on Radio 4 today which prompted me to write about it, the subject of the play being how my Grandfather, Fabian Ware, founded the Imperial War Graves Commission- now, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Being too old to join the Services in the First World War, he joined the Red Cross in France. Here he was deeply disturbed by the fact that the bodies of so many soldiers were just discarded without identification or burial and he determined to rectify this.

And so forests of Tombstones evolved. His work in France was helped by the fact that he had studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.

My Grandfather was meticulous about details. Having many contacts from his time as Editor of The Morning Post, he was able to get the design services of architects such as Edwin Lutyens and cartographer MacDonald Gill (brother of Eric), plus the inscription services of writer Rudyard Kipling.

He consulted Kew Gardens regarding the planting of national plants from native stocks in the cemeteries, to symbolize links to the gardens of home countries. I am pleased to read on the Commission’s website that they have maintained a strong tree policy, totally realizing their importance (see Ficus trees in above photo of Egyptian Cemetery).

Unusually for the time: he insisted that all the headstones were identical, regardless of rank, race or creed.

Over one million casualties are now commemorated in some 150 countries. Relatives were thus comforted and the dead respected- and for that I respect him.

My memories of him are of a gentle, warm man who made me feel special and who loved birds, flowers and his garden in the Cotswolds. The signet ring he always wore was inscribed with the word "Pax"- and this was way before the hippie 60's!

Friday, October 24, 2008

And back to Trees....

Yet again I must write about the overwhelming happiness I get walking the Santa Monica streets with my camera. The same walk changes each time, according to the light, your position or your awareness. This afternoon, returning to my apartment from the Ocean, it was stimulating seeing the patterns of the Palm trees changing when viewed from a fractionally different angle; to see the Eucalyptus tree touched by the late afternoon sun; to re-see the Ficus trees- having confirmation of their beauty and the importance of the Santa Monica Treesavers' battle to attempt saving them.

It is commendable that six Treesavers are standing for election to the City Council on November 4th. At present there is only one Councilmember who pays more than lip-service to environmental concerns. As in the Presidential election, change is essential.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pelican's Gullets!

All my life I seem to have had one obsession or another- from Collie Dogs and Conker Trees to a Scottish Mountain, Suilven- and my current obsession is Pelican Gullets.....

I have been spending many wonderful hours at my favorite Malibu Lagoon watching the both exquisite and extraordinary movement the Pelicans make as they exercise their gullets. The movement is a cross between a dance and the opening of an exotic flower and I never tire of observing it.

So here are some images:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Santa Monica: Walk 2

And here is another recent walk:

Santa Monica: Walk 1

I have written often about the great joy I feel when I walk the streets of Santa Monica with my camera, crystallizing those moments. Here are three recent walks, divided into three posts, starting with Palisades Park: