Sunday, 23 January 2011

Tommy's Peace - meet the editor

The editor of Tommy's Peace: A Family Diary 1919-33 will be at Govanhill Library (Langside Road at Calder Street, Glasgow) on January 27th from 2.30pm-5.30pm to discuss the subject of the book, Thomas Cairns Livingstone, and the diaries he kept from 1913 to 1933.

The book is a sequel to "Tommy's War", which I have yet to read, but "Tommy's Peace" has really hit a chord with me, for several reasons. The first is that it covers almost exactly the same period of life in Glasgow which my own grandfather experienced, he having lived in the city from 1919 to 1936. It therefore provides a contemporary daily commentary on life in the same city where he lived, and therefore a real flavour of the kind of lifestyle which he himself may have enjoyed and endured. The book is also of interest to me personally as the author spent his annual holidays in Largs, where I presently live, and it is extraordinary to see what has changed here and what has not.

Although from Govanhill, Livingstone was in fact from Northern Irish stock, and so his diaries also provide a contemporary commentary on events on the other side of the water during the Anglo-Irish War and Partition, which from what I can gather from his description was equally as terrifying as the recent Troubles. As an enthusiastic stamp collector, he was also a man in touch with the world, and it is also fascinating to read his daily commentary on such extraordinary situations as the rapid hyperinflation in Germany which saw the pound become equal to billions of German marks virtually overnight.

But if there is one aspect of the book that makes it completely impossible to put down for me, it is not just Livingstone's words, but his cartoons and sketches, which are hilarious in parts, and every much a part of the commentary of the time. The book is also competently edited, and accompanied with useful and at times essential footnotes, readily available on each page.

I'm unfortunately not able to go to the event, but if you can, this will be an enjoyable take on life in early 20th century Glasgow; and if you haven't yet read the book, Amazon is but a click away at !

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