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Somewhere to get my head around the 1914-1918 Conflict

Fig. 1. Copies of World War (from a set of 52 published between November 1936 and November 1937)

Memories of a place are a damnable thing and in this case it wasn’t even me as a child, but as a parent bringing children that I visited Newhaven Fort for the first time.

My son age 5 or 6 wouldn’t enter the darkened rooms of the WW1 display for a few visits (we were living close by) and far preferred charging down the long, high, stoney, echoed, spookey corridors.

This visit is pre–empting thinking ahead if WW1 100.

How to create interest, how institutions can use this as an excuse to revist what they do, bringing it to life so that it engages the public.

The lack if interactivity, the repetitive loops, the way the thing glosses over and offers just the tip of the conflict.

How do you make it relevant?

I’d project ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ or ‘Shot at Dawn’ on a loop in a room somewhere; have people prepared to sit down for 90 minutes for a start. I’d stay well clear of the nonsense of Birdsong and Downton Abbey, so how do you ‘popularise’ the period and its crisis?

Internet access is vital, even if we feed them all things WW1 from a ‘walled garden’.

A captive audience on a Horror Show ride through the trenches? Cheap or gives a captive audience, like time travellers to the trenches a taste of what it was like?

A 3D experience?

Must have tie ins to primary, secondary and tertiary education, if indeed WW1 is being taught.

I think back to the science museum of my youth in Newcastle: it was tactile, you turned handles and pressed buttons, you pulled handles and poked at things to see what would happen.

Some ‘Creative Probelm Solving’ is required. I’ve bought a season ticket and quickly found a silent spot this afternoon only to find I could have been locked in as it was thought everyone had left.

They’ll have to get used to me: free parking, quiet from the traffic, shelter for the wind, few people to trouble me, internet access throught the iPad and a thousand places to settle down to think, and write. I’m using a screenwriting APP for the iPad and then Final Draft when I get home.

My French exchange from 33 years is in touch. Both his grandfathers served in Verdun; one he says couldn’t stop talking about it while the other (the one I met) refused to say a thing. How will France mark these years, let alone Germany or Russia?

How about some virtual war games online?

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