Lucky Siblings


That’s my dear sister, the late Gwen Dean, brandishing me proudly as a wee bairn. Imagine having a sister already in her twenties when you were born and only because your father survived a disaster as terrible as the Great War. What are the odds on that? You’ve probably already noticed the similarity with the ‘miracle monkey’ shot. Thanks to another ‘miracle’, Photoshop, the author’s head has been transposed from this photograph with Gwen to that one. Actually, the baby on Dad’s lap wasn’t me at all – it was my cousin, Barry Mandile, with my head patched on. Sorry, Baz, it was such a great shot of Dad, I couldn’t resist.

Miracle Monkey

Little did Dad know when this photograph was taken that the wee ‘miracle monkey’ on his knee was already scheming to one day write¬†Wounded: a Great War novel ¬†to evoke something of his experience in that catastrophe and signify the miracle that we both existed, at all.


‘ Number 5’


No idea where or when this poor quality photograph I found with dad’s things was taken but suspect that’s him, seated, middle, foreground. What stuck me about it was the range of expressions on the young men’s faces, from a troubled emptiness to glowing good cheer. Maybe ‘Number 5’ was a pub or estaminet and some of the boys when leaving bumped into some on the way in. Or maybe those haunted looks were permanent. Perhaps you might recognize someone in the photograph and help solve the mystery.