On my beach walk this morning, I thought about the disconnect between Frank Simon’s world of trauma in the Messines stunt, and his time in the real world on leave in Ireland. Did he talk to Mamie about bodies blown apart, and grown men quaking and unable to speak with shell shock? I think not.
He went on picnics and felt the hurt when his friends rejected Mamie - ‘Of Emily I hardly expected this’. Did he speak of this to his mates back in the trenches? I think not.
There was a huge emotional gap between the horrors of the trenches - unspeakable - and the painful ostracism of the one he loved. Both hurt. But both were beyond normal conversation - one too awful, the other too trivial.
He was caught in an emotional no-man’s-land. A conversational loneliness.
Perhaps that is why he writes with such tenderness about Odette. Someone to listen.