In the aftermath of 2 April 1916, men plunged into drainage dykes to retrieve the dying and the dead; they threw timbers from ruined buildings across the sea of mud surrounding the crater, and pulled their comrades, or what was left of them, from the ooze. Some stood up within the circle of destruction to find they were naked and almost unharmed, but the men beside them blown to pieces. Others had died 100 yards away, victims of flying debris or the blast wave’s capriciousness.
I returned to the ward with Yvonne’s discharge letter. “I have something for you,” she said, and handed me a card. On the front was a flower-filled field overlooked by a single tree. It was drawn in coloured pencil. The words inside said thank you, it was nice to have somebody to chat to every day. “I made the card,” Yvonne said. “You made it!” I could not hide my surprise. “Yes, I borrowed pencils and paper from the woman in the bed next to me,” Yvonne replied. “But if you can’t see, how could you draw?” “I can feel the pencil marks on the paper,” she answered. She did not seem in the least affronted. Gerald appeared and led her away. I looked at the picture again. All the colours were correct – the tree green, the bark brown. Not a single outline was broken, not a single leaf or flower out of place.
Take alleyways, for example. From the movies, you’d think Manhattan to be riddled with dank, dangerous, trash-strewn back-alleys, complete with rusting fire escapes and crumbling, graffiti-covered brick walls. So it often comes as a total shock to most directors when we tell them that Manhattan actually has only three or four of these types of alleys (Cortlandt Alley, Great Jones Alley, Broadway Alley, Staple Street), and none are dangerous in the slightest.
As the lessons take place on private property, the rules are much more flexible than on the road. At four of its venues, Young Driver also runs specially adapted vehicles to give people with a wide range of disabilities a shot behind the wheel. They have even helped some blind people experience what it is like to control a car.