Will Gatti & Daniel Finn


I think of you sometimes

I think of you sometimes

DadI think of you sometimes, in the early days out there, eighteen years old, trying to look older than you were, your boots and gaiters damp to the bone.

You hadn’t thought about bone and flesh before, though your school was brutal enough, the priests as mad as hell.

But that was alright, you just got on with it.

Here too you just got on with it, knowing that your ‘men’, older, harder, tireder, looked at you as you went by, with your ‘too-young’ moustache and narrow shoulders, and briefly wondered how long you’d live.

Six weeks for a second lieutenant straight from school and keen as mustard.

Were you?

Yes, sir.

Mustard. There were rumours of the gas and what it could do.

Was the wind ice cold on your days at the front, rattling the tins on the wire. Did the rain slick the duckboards, and the mud everywhere…

Could you ever put your head above the parapet?

Who ever thought…

Perhaps you did, sometimes, to take your mind off the bloody noise or that single snip of a sniper’s bullet . I can imagine you estimating the arc of a shell, elevation, distance.


You should have been an engineer. Paper with little squares. Equal signs. Reason. Rules. You always had a pencil in your pocket along with the pack of Woodbines.

When you turned round to go, down at the bend in the trench where the sides had fallen in, squeezing past the mess of dirt and stone and twisted corrugated iron, was the company runner bringing letters from home, his face a blob in the exhausted light.

There had been a letter from your mother, hoping you were well and keeping warm and to think of it all as an adventure. I expect you shivered and wrote back: ‘Yes, mother,’ and pulled your great coat tight.

When you saw the flares that night perhaps you thought of spotlights along the stage, and the curtain going up.


In fact I think my dad might have been seventeen when he joined up. He was wounded and spent three days out on no man’s land before he was found and brought back by one of the soldiers in his company. For much of the rest of his life, he was closely involved in the theatre.