Words by Harriet Ball, image by David Ashton PhotographySince I was a little girl, I have always had a love for the 1940s, especially the history and romance of the Second World War. There has always been something so fascinating about it that never fails to inspire me, something that amuses me, such as the things that went on in the blackout and certain things girls would do to get a pair of stockings. My love for the 40s has followed me through my childhood and I now live, breathe, write and dress the era! So much so that I am writing a film about it too.
Set on a train station platform in February 1940, my film follows the story of twenty one year old Daniel Jones, a young man who has just received his call up papers to fight – much to his girlfriend Lizzie’s despair. When Lizzie finds out, she is heartbroken and says bitterly that he can take himself to the station and see himself off before leaving him. When Daniel arrives for his train, he sees many sights that would be seen at a train station during the war: mothers saying goodbye to their children as they are evacuated to the countryside, girlfriends saying goodbye to their partners, much like Lizzie should be doing for Daniel. He sits alone on a bench and goes through all that has happened between himself and Lizzie, before penning a letter of apology, which he will post to her when he arrives at the barracks.
No sooner has he started writing his letter, than he hears Lizzie’s voice calling after him; apologising profusely for being so horrible to him and suggesting that they should get married if he really loves her as much as he says. Daniel worryingly says to her that she shouldn’t have said that and walks off. Lizzie follows him down the platform as he walks to the train, asking why would he not marry her if he loves her so much: she is obviously quite hurt by this situation.
He begins to explain why he didn’t want her to ask, before getting on one knee and asking her to marry him. Lizzie, completely overwhelmed, accepts his proposal before sharing a kiss intertwined with the steam from the train. They say their farewells before he gets on the train and leaves an emotional Lizzie looking at her engagement ring, not knowing what the future has in store for them both.
So that is my film: ‘A Train Ride Away’…a young man and woman learn the true meaning of love in the shadow of the Second World War.
If you read my last article, I managed to sneak in my announcement that I was making a film before I break up for summer and this is it!
The whole thing is written by me but I did have ‘Jambusters’ author Julie Summers to help with historical accuracy. I have an amazing cast and crew – the only problem is finding locations. My initial idea was to film at Oxenhope station on the Keighley Worth Valley Railway, but it’s proving impossible. Purely because I’d have to fork out thousands of pounds to close off a public space. However, my ever amazing dad is trying to sort something out for me.
Instead of dwelling on the fact that it isn’t yet sorted and I am subsequently panicking, I thought I’d talk clothes with you. After all what is a period drama without amazing costumes?
I’m lucky. I have plenty of friends who have been re-enacting for years, who have volunteered to be in the film as extras. This means I’m not having to hire out costumes. I am also very lucky to have friends who are seamstresses and have a vast knowledge of the fashion of the 40s, who will make sure everything is historically accurate.
My good friend let me raid her pattern stash to find outfits that may reflect Lizzie and how she’d dress. Elizabeth, or Lizzie, who I am focusing on clothing wise, mainly because I have permission to play her in the film, is much more different than the characters I normally write. I normally write about affluent characters who would wear glamorous outfits, such as the black and green pattern. Lizzie is a plain and simple city girl who isn’t well off. She works in the local haberdashery and makes her own clothes, so makes the best of what she’s got.
February 1940 was extremely cold, so her outfit will be covered by a coat and an exceptional hat, something she has saved up for over quite some time, like most women would have.
When writing Lizzie’s character, I could imagine her being the swing trousers and pretty blouse type girl – especially in the scene in the living room where she confronts Daniel about him signing up. But when she finally gives in to seeing him off to war, she would wear a dress, but it will be covered by her coat.
The ring! My mum found the ring that will be used in the kitchen scene. It is the most simple little ring that matches both Daniel and Lizzie’s life, with the tiniest diamond, but my friends say it’s an illusion ring, as it makes the diamond look bigger than it actually is.
As you can probably now tell, I am so excited. I have so many people on board (pardon the pun) helping me with this amazing project and I really hope I can pull it off!