There are so many times and stages in history that I would love to see. To just go back and watch what happens. The day that Shakespeare realised he could write, and the first applause he got. The day the first dinosaur was hatched and the day of the last. The day that my great Uncle was told to ‘hold the line’ whilst small boats got the soldiers off the beach at Dunkirk. Him I would love to have held as he died and to have told him that he would never be forgotten; that we won, because at the time I doubt he would have believed it.
I think that has to be the point I would love to go back to. To just look at the man I only know as a black and white photograph and say that he was still a part of the family. Then I would speed to Wales where my other great-uncle toiled under the ground as a Bevan boy. But him I would take hold of and drag from the pit front. I would pull him away and tell him to leave. That he was destroying the life he would have.
He would survive the mines but not his lungs. That uncle, I would tell to leave, to get a transfer, because he would forever cough up black dust.
Yet that is strange, why would I not save the first? The answer has to be that he saved lives. Every second he lived was another for the rescue. But for my uncle under the earth, he kept the country running but the cost was so very great. His life was one of struggled breathing and gasping lungs, no, for him I would wish escape and for the other, knowledge. Knowledge that he did make a difference.
Mostly though I would like to meet both before the war. Before they stopped smiling. I would have liked to have seen them as boys, running in the streets of London and calling out to friends. Before the Blitz and before Dunkirk. Before a loud bang would make most of my family quake in terror, just for a second, but enough to notice. Before one uncle was gone and the other afraid of the dark.