So this post might be a little off-piste but as the song goes, I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. However, I'm not about to lose control which should be a relief to all. What I am going to do is blow my own trumpet about a personal milestone so forgive the indulgence if you can.
I am history geek and the stories of women during World War II are those that particularly push my buttons. From housewives to code breakers, land-girls to ATA girls, my bookshelves are laden with volumes of everyday heroism and outstanding bravery. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to lay my excited hands on copy of 'A Daughter's Tale', the wartime memories of Winston & Clementine Churchill's youngest child Mary. In these pages, I first found out about the gunner girls of the ATS who manned the anti-aircraft batteries during the Blitz and the flying bomb raids. And that was it, I was hooked and my research began.
Since then, I have read voraciously, I have tracked down old copies of books and memoirs, I have delved into archives and written pages and pages of notes. These women were amazing. In fact, amazing is too small a word to describe them. In a society that still wanted women to be decorative and sweetly feminine, these trailblazing women lived with the men, worked with the men and died with the men. They manned their guns on cliff tops and city centres, they shot down planes and rockets and were themselves injured, insulted and initially seen as objects of curiosity. But they won over the most battle-hardened soldiers and they played a real part in a war that liked to keep women well away from any action. Mary Churchill, as she was then, followed troops into Europe in the days after D-Day and was also one of the observers sent to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just days after it had been liberated. All of the women of the ATS were proud to wear the uniform, proud to do their job and play an active role. No more passivity for the girls behind the guns.
There is one photo, from all of those that I have seen whilst researching this fascinating topic that sticks in my mind (and you can see it in the top right of my feature's banner). The alarm has sounded, the girls are running to man their guns, running into who knows what danger and they are smiling. Smiling.
So seeing this piece in print was a big moment. My first published history feature and I'm so chuffed to see it looking so beautiful in such a great magazine. The Goodwood Revival special edition of Pretty Nostalgic is packed with wonderful pieces - from an imaginary tea with another literary heroine of mine, Agatha Christie and craft and up cycling ideas to vintage fashion and beauty pieces. All in all, it's a fabulous read and I'm just so thrilled to be a part of it.
Earlier this year, I set my goals for 2014. One of them was about writing. It's going pretty well, I can tell you now...