Hello, dear friends of the Berrymans, and a happy New Year.
I am very fortunate: I get to spend every Christmas and New Year with my 100-year-old family. I feel like a Time Lord living in multiple time-streams at once (yay for Jodie Whittaker!) as I schedule the next year’s letters and tweets and spend a few days diving deeply into the vivid details that the Berrymans bring us about the past.
The last two weeks have been a treat for me – I’d forgotten how fond I am of them all: lovely Ted, always putting a happy spin on whatever circumstances he’s in; Paul charming his bride but not entirely convincing her family that he’s a good bet; Jim, getting an office job in Singapore; Richard, fussy and bossy on paper, but clearly another Berryman charmer in real life; and poor stammering Topher, outshone by his glamorous and heroic elder brothers. Let’s face it, who could compete with them?
We know that 11th November 1918 was Armistice day but of course the Berrymans didn’t, so the year ahead will bring us their excitement as the tide started to turn in Europe and the Middle East. You may remember that the highlight of the 1914 letters was Ted writing home about the Christmas Truce, Nell’s brother stole the show in 1915 when he crashed his car, it was good to hear Paul’s voice in 1916 telling Ted about Jutland, and Ted’s account of the battle of Ramadi in 1917 reminds us that what they did then still echoes for us now, though I am also fascinated by his trips to the dentist. You will be pleased to know that the accounts of the Armistice are brought to us with typical Berryman vigour and wit.
The letters continue for a few months after 11th November and we can stay in their company until the summer of 1919 as they ease into peacetime life. And I’ve included a set of letters from the mid 1920s which were also donated to the IWM – these will go out at the rate of two per week, so time will speed up for us in 2019 as we finally leave the Berrymans to their post-war lives.
So thank you all for your company and your patience. If you want to catch up, check the summary of the story so far, soap-opera style, If you want to share the letters, please forward this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up themselves in the form on the site. The Berrymans themselves are @BerrymanLetters on Twitter and I am @FamilyLetters. Re-tweets and shares would be kind. I’ve also re-launched the page at Facebook.com/FamilyLetters so please like and share that as much as you can.
If you are curious to know why I got so behind with the 1917 letters, then take a quick peek at our new project at LighthouseKeepersCottage.co.uk and let us know if you would like to take a break there.
With warmest regards