Mametz wood

A very annoying guide to the Somme battlefields

We arranged to meet the second, more expensive, guide of our Somme battlefield visit at the Thiepval Memorial visitor centre car park. He arrived punctually. The foreign correspondent climbed in the back of his car and I got in the front. As he drove us past Lutyens’ masterpiece, instead of genuflecting towards it, the guide launched tunelessly into a repetitive mumbled refrain while thumping an imaginary bass drum with an imaginary foot pedal. ‘What’s that you’re singing?’ I asked. ‘Oh, nothing really. I’m just enjoying myself,’ he said. ‘Go on,’ I said. ‘What’s the song?’ ‘It doesn’t matter,’ he replied tetchily. After a brief respite, the tempo and indistinct vocal