I have always loved finding out about the past, and as an avid Doctor Who fan, the prospect of time travel is just too intriguing not to imagine. So, whom would I visit? Well, after some thought I’ve decided that if the TARDIS were available, then today (as no doubt tomorrow I will have changed my mind again) these are the three people I’d want to meet first:
Virginia d’Albert-Lake: An American citizen and wartime heroine in the French Resistance, Virginia Roush came to France in 1936 where she met, fell in love with, and married Phillipe d’Albert-Lake. Their idyllic life was shattered at the outbreak of war and by 1943 they were working with the French Resistance. Following the D-Day landings she was called upon to help allied airmen escape occupied France as quickly as possible; making their way south through France Virginia went ahead on bicycle to check for German soldiers. A German police car stopped her near Châteaudun, as in the rush to leave France, she had broken protocol by forgetting to memorise and then burn a list of friendly resistance fighters along their planned route. By the luck of the Gods, the driver of the police car handed her back the list, which she ate before arriving at the German headquarters. She never gave up the names on the list, and ten days before French liberation, she was transported to Germany where she spent time in various concentration camps. She survived. For the journalists who met her after the war, she shared the most incredible story – it was a story about the people she worked with, the people she saved, and the appreciative airmen who came back to visit with their families after the war. She was extraordinary.
Vincent Van Gogh: Van Gogh’s work bleeds emotion; it is beautifully, yet at the same time tragically, honest. Van Gogh’s art wasn’t fine and detailed as the academic style of the time dictated it should be, but his work was revolutionary. You can envisage stars moving across the sky, flowers in blossom and the haunting sadness of a sunflower: his pictures awake the senses and evoke raw emotions. It would have been an experience to watch him work, to make conversation with someone truly great, yet who had no realisation that he was changing the course of the art world and making such a significant contribution to it.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: The roaring twenties was not just the Jazz Age, but it was also the time when Fitzgerald wrote novels like The Beautiful and the Damned and The Great Gatsby, the 1930s saw him compose Tender is the Night. He saw the age of decadence, followed by its mighty decline. His imagination led him to produce masterpieces of literature, so to talk to him and to ask him about the morals of his books would, no doubt, be thought provoking. His life spanned quite an extraordinary period of history, and this must have influenced his work.