It’s not what you expect to see in Finchley. Borneo and Bangladesh certainly, North America but hardly North London. I looked out my back door this morning and saw a flying squirrel.
Well, a squirrel, flying. A squirrel I’m at war with.
It’s not what you expect to see in Finchley. Borneo and Bangladesh certainly, North America but hardly North London. I looked out my back door this morning and saw a flying squirrel.
Well, a squirrel, flying. A squirrel I’m at war with.
Well, he’s at it again, only this time he’s only pissed off a community. Makes a change from pissing off an entire country. A while back, Trump, for some unknown reason, decided to tweet out about the LGBT community not being allowed to join the army anymore. Perhaps a man in a dress stole his ball and won’t give it back, who knows. And with his usual vacuous flourish he’s now signed an ‘executive order’ about it.
It’s not that he singled out the LGBT community. We should be used to people like him singling out communities by now. It is not even what he said really, that certain people can’t join the army. OK, it’s a total dick move, but it’s your army – if you want to reduce recruitment on the brink of WW3, that’s your call, I guess.
And all the other myopic bastards who’ve now successfully endangered my way of life a great deal more than ISIS ever posed: thanks for the prescient consideration of all the ramifications of lobbing more bombs. The juxtaposition of such an intention and its actual result would almost be funny, if the sounds of mirth weren’t to be drowned out with the sounds of bombs detonating in a far away land.
It would perhaps prompt a cheeky smirk of irony if you hadn’t just shot irony dead in the face by descending to the level of savagery that you seek to oppose. Unfortunately irony was just a collateral casualty in your decision making. Doubtless there will be many more to follow and unlike irony they won’t be abstract concepts but post-life humans of flesh, bone and dreams, reduced to mind-numbing statistics by the BBC.
Dave, I don’t know if anyone explained to you exactly why there are quite so many refugees – it was the bombs, Dave, it was the bombs. If you wanted to do something useful, you could’ve put the toy guns down, wiped your nose, climbed out of the sandpit for a moment and actually helped the people who you profess to want to help. Bombs rarely tend to help anyone; in fact they are actually strategically engineered to destroy things. They cost an awful lot to keep producing at the rate you intend to use them, which given the nature of Georgie-Porgie Osborne’s working-class holocaust seems a bit at odds with what we or anyone else in the world needs right now.
Given the knee-jerk nature of our current elected overlords, we just jumped up a few places on the hit list of ISIS targets. Notice how only countries currently hurling thousands of kilos of explosives are the ones being struck? Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll live long enough to see what further desecrations to our nation will be incurred in the name of national security and all the other bullshit double-speak that, whilst usually reserved for the infamously duplicitous language of HR teams, has now become the lingua franca of British politics. Tactically, practically and not least morally this decision makes less sense than Tony Blair’s role as a Middle East peace envoy or Noel Edmonds’ career in general.
Dave, your Dodgy Dossier moment is coming. For Blair it was those pesky WMDs that failed to materialise and for you it’ll be the elusive ground troops who you’re claiming will be able to mop up after the RAF goes on one their joyrides across the desert. The 70,000 FSA fighters you’re relying on are the same ones that you’ve been refusing to arm or support since this conflict blossomed into the global smear campaign against sentient life that it is today.
You really need to stop going along with what the cool kids are telling you; first the sloppy pig job, now this – where will it end Dave? Well, probably with that smug egg-shaped head of yours emitting a few apologetic noises into the camera from the safety of a lead-lined bunker somewhere in Kent. Unfortunately we won’t be around to hear those beautifully crafted words crawl out of your cunt mouth because we’ll either have had the sense to have abandoned the good ship Britain or have been incinerated in the inevitably escalating consequences of your ill thought-through decisions.
At this point, why not just paint a target on the face of every British citizen and have us all stand densely packed around Parliament until you’ve come out of the big boy’s bravery room and decided to apologise for being the petulant child with too many toys? It might give you an idea of what certain ISIS strongholds look like. I’m sure you’ve made use of the readily available material provided online by innumerate activists and correspondents in Raqqa and across Syria which highlights the use of civilians as human shields in strategic outposts. How, may I ask, will you verify this before you drop the bombs, Dave? You could send Boris Johnson and Noel Edmonds over there on a fact-finding mission where they knock on doors as a comedy odd-couple; fuck it, why not get hollow meat-puppets Ant and Dec to narrate the broadcast. It would still be a better effort than you’re making at present.
Finally, I’m not sure what level of education you were treated with back in the halcyon days of porking pigs, but there’s a really good subject that you could benefit from giving even the most cursory of glances over. Yes, Dave, I’m talking about history. Thirteen years on and Iraq and Afghanistan are still a mess, and we used a lot of bombs and bullets over there. More than a decade later and we still don’t have anything resembling a political solution. It doesn’t take someone with as privileged an upbringing as you to figure out that the success of this war will depend on whether you continue to deafen everyone with an arsenal of explosives or decide to actually invest in the mechanics of government that you purportedly desire to uphold.
So far you’ve got the incoherent volatility of a Manchester bar brawl standing in for an exit strategy. Since the vote you seem to have realised that this campaign of yours will actually take a really long time, like years – I mean shit, Dave, George might have your job by then, or is that your plan anyway? To squat in someone else’s lap and leave this big steaming turd of a military venture to soak through their trousers before wiping your arse on their tie, because if so Blair already pulled that one and he’s still being arrested by waiters and hailed as a war criminal, as a heads up.
Take care Dave, and try to avoid the cameras – your face has got that old pork-chop-left-in-a-puddle look about it. But it’s probably just due to the amorality of your own wretched ambition trumping the reality of national security and the general sanctity of life that you just threw up all over. I wouldn’t worry about it. You know Murdoch after all – loyal as a dog!
All the best,
P.S: Stop making life look like the later series of 24 – it was too ridiculous then and it still bloody well is now.
So it’s war. From the moment a TV camera picked up the glint in Chuka Umunna’s eye, a little spittle in the corner of his mouth, it was plain which way the vote was going to go. Britain is now engaged in air strikes in Syria, and I do mean now given the frantic scrabble to hurl rockets at brown people miles away began mere minutes after our elected representatives completed what they doubtless believe is their crucial role in ending the world.
Of course, if it’s war today it was war yesterday. Britain has been dropping bombs on Iraq for months, and now they’re doing the same in Syria, on the other side of a border that is singularly meaningless from 30,000 feet. At any rate, the people being targeted don’t recognise the border on land let alone above their heads. It makes you wonder what everyone’s banging on about.
And yet banging on they are. In the lead-up to yesterday’s marathon debate in Parliament, our esteemed Prime Minister adopted his usual noble tone when he declared Jeremy Corbyn, and anyone accepting his viewpoint that bombing Syria is meaningless without a coherent plan on the ground, a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. You don’t agree that this specific methodology is sound in this particular case, so you’re as good as putting together a suicide bomber’s final packed lunch yourself. It’s faultless logic, so much so that I’d no idea how much I loved ISIS until he said it. God I ♥ ISIS, I really do.
I love the image of a man dressed for a long desert campaign popping up unexpectedly in a shopping centre and shouting ‘Admiral Ackbar’ in a final attempt to influence casting decisions in The Force Awakens, before pulling at what’s definitely not a parachute and sending tens of people to the great Primark in the sky. I love that religious fury is once again at the top of the news agenda, because without religion all we’re left with is science, and that won’t do. I especially love that in Paris many of the dead were engaged in the heinous act of watching a band play live, something I do nearly every week and as recently as last night. A small part of me wonders if they weren’t asking for it watching the Eagles of Death Metal but that’s probably the part of me that thinks “Well, he has a point” when David Cameron opens his curiously round mouth.
Cameron’s comment successfully caused Parliamentarians to waste vital debating time attempting to get the most unapologetic man in Europe to say sorry, as the House of Commons once again scoured its Big Book of the Playground for how to behave. There was joking and laughing at various stages, during a debate about remote-controlled death. When the result of the vote was read out there was clapping and cheering, after a debate about remote-controlled death. This was a happy day for Parliament as Britain once again showed the world she won’t be pushed around.
There was even applause, rare in the chamber, for a speech by one of the greyest men in politics, Hilary Benn. Finally emerging from the shadow of his disgracefully left-wing father, Hilary made an impassioned plea for something to be done, because ISIS – or ‘Daesh’ as we much now call it, or ‘ISIL Daesh’ as Hilary obsessively calls it to much bafflement – are evil. Thanks Hil, we hadn’t picked up on that. He explained that they kill innocent people, they kill other Muslims, they’re all-round pretty bad eggs. So we should bomb them. Top stuff, one of the best speeches in living memory we’re told today.
A cynic may at this point highlight that nobody disputes that ISIS are a shower of irredeemable cunts who should be ended with clinical force. The minor point of dissent, however, is whether showering towns and cities containing both terrorists and non-terrorists with heavyweight ordnance is the most efficient way of going about that. Considering ISIS reportedly spend half their time in network of deep caves it’s rather like treating brain cancer by repeatedly punching the patient in the face.
On Parliament’s glorious day, when democracy was reinvigorated and our principles were held aloft in the face of extremism, the picky among us could have noted the regular business of politics as undercurrent. Benn’s speech was serviceable, though it intentionally obfuscated the issue and was no better than many others of the day. That Benn is in direct odds with Corbyn, sitting po-faced beside him, surely couldn’t have contributed to the elevation of this speech from adequate to Churchillian. I find it hard to believe that Tory MPs would raise the roof for Benn in a bid to exacerbate divisions among the opposition, not today of all days. It’s inconceivable that Labour MPs would laud a speech that may accelerate the departure of a leader they view as alien simply for trying to be less despicable than Tony Blair. Given the topic, surely Members of Parliament couldn’t be so callous. Pass the diazepam.
In any case Britain’s contribution to this is nominal at best. John McCain: “We will have some token aircraft over there from the British and they’ll drop a few bombs, and we’ll say thank you very much.” Admittedly McCain is a man who once took advice from ‘Joe the Plumber’, but he probably knows what he’s talking about more than Hilary fucking Benn. Britain’s pathetic attempt to inhale the heady vapours of world power, long after having become as vital as Betamax, is encapsulated beautifully by the number of planes sent on the bomb overnight: six. Perhaps if Richard the First had had as many as six horses to call on during the Crusades we wouldn’t be in this mess today.
I’m not a pacifist, though it tends to take me longer to reach for the Winchester than most. I was fully against Blair’s Iraq beano, but with Gaddafi apparently about to obliterate Benghazi I drew the conclusion that something, anything, had to be done in Libya. I’ve been right and wrong, for the little it’s worth.
But any simpleton can see that a token bombing effort, bringing us inevitably closer to direct conflict with Russia while China looks on impassively, waiting for pieces to pick up, is a farcical move without some sort of plan to sift through the rubble looking for snipers. When there’s nothing left to bomb, what next? With terrorists having scattered to the four corners, will we feel safer? Perhaps the notion is that these nasty fuckers will simply stand and stare upwards, open-mouthed, as our wonderfully accurate precision-guided munitions slot down their throats and pop with barely a sound, causing little or no damage to the unfortunate Shia Muslim at that moment being tortured nearby.
If there was even the slightest chance this tactic could devastate Syria as it has devastated Iraq then surely it would have swayed a few more of the MPs currently chuckling at the naivety of people like me. I guess we really can rely on the thousands of Syrians in the opposition, allegedly as keen to smash ISIS as much as we are. That they’re currently wearing their own set of FAB-500 M62s as delivered by Russia’s own winged heroes doesn’t matter, because we’ve already decided Turkey will be the lamb on Putin’s altar as the end of days approaches and we can surely rely on the inscrutable Vladimir to look the other way as we do exactly the opposite of what he wants us to.
For now let’s just concentrate on ensuring Britain is seen to be doing something while really doing very little, so we can try to look powerful while the world sniggers, and we can make sure no-one so blatantly un-British as Jeremy Corbyn is allowed to express his views in public ever again.
It’s all a huge shame really, because I really do love ISIS.
When I die – which, given the state of my stress levels, may be sooner than you think – if anyone describes me in terms of my family relationships (“daughter, niece, girlfriend, wife”), or my job, or some banal string of characteristics that people think sound nice, I will be furious. I won’t of course, I’ll be dead and completely oblivious to everything, but I want you to know that you’ll have started the process of whitewashing my memory.
Let me tell a story about my uncle’s funeral – wait, I’m going somewhere with this. Dead at 65 from lymphoma, the eulogy given by the random minister assigned by the crematorium was a travesty. Nothing about his hopes, dreams, loves, hates; anything that made him who he was. His only natural child died young and that didn’t get a mention, but there was time to list every single fucking street he’d ever lived in. This isn’t the minister’s fault, he could only work with what was given to him by the family. And afterwards people were speaking to each other in hushed tones about what a lovely service it had been. Except it was a terrible service, with barely any indication of who the human being in the box had been.
And so: Paris. There’s a Twitter account, @ParisVictims, tweeting short bits of information about the people who died on 13 November. I’m struggling to find anything on there that’s not bland or platitudinous. “Friend, brother, son” reads one. “Daughter, sister” reads another. Well, yes. We all tend to be at least one of these things. One man is described as “efficient”. Shit the bed. This guy has died, horribly. Is this the best that can be said about him? What about his desires, his achievements, his plans for the future? If you want to show the world what has been cruelly cut down, please try and do the dead the honour of representing them properly.
This is largely the fault of social media, where being first is considered better than being thorough. @ParisVictims is the Twitter version of a Mashable project which is clearly scouring news sources and people’s social media accounts to gather tiny snippets of information to share with the world. But, to me, this isn’t respect. It’s rubbernecking. After 9/11, the New York Times went out and did a proper obituary for everyone who died. It took a while, but you get a real sense of who they were as people.
Are we happy with this cavalcade of trite? I think we must be. Because ‘we’ tweet and Facebook ‘RIP’ as a reflex when someone dies, even though RIP belongs to a time when we all believed in an afterlife, a hell and a resurrection. It’s now such a reflex that it’s meaningless, just a way of showing to the world that you care. Even if you don’t.
Appearance is all; you can get torn to shreds for not wearing a poppy, even if you think it’s appalling that a charity has to exist at all to take care of those who the government has sent off to die and be injured; even if you’d happily pay more taxes to replace the Royal British Legion with proper, state-funded care; even if you went on that Stop the War march before Iraq that changed absolutely nothing and you feel sick at the thought of the carnage that happened ‘in your name’. Wear the poppy, change your Facebook profile to a Tricolor; otherwise how will people know you care? Other than, maybe, a genuine, thoughtful statement?
Or even better, say nothing at all instead of something shallow and stupid.
When psychos attack, why the hell do they choose schools? What have those innocent kids done to deserve bullets?
Especially in America, where there’s the KKK for fuck’s sake. At least having a go at them would be a challenge. Although saying that, if you substitute KKK for USA, then the line between what is or is not an act of terrorism becomes kind of blurry, real fucking fast.
Nonetheless, I am neither advocating nor calling for anything that radical. My point is that if humans insist on meddling with the process of evolutionary selection, could they not do it only on subsections of humanity that carry throwback genes to our darker and more primitive past?
It does seem like a group can get away with being little more than a fascist militia as long as they have a flag, officially state the target(s) of their vitriol, lack the ability to move with the social inclusion of the modern times or simply admit to their own stupidity. Just look at Mosley’s black shirts. Oh to have been a fly on the wall during one of their meetings.
“What ho old chap! There’s a new craze sweeping across Europe don’t you know? [Well, I say new, but in truth it was a tried and tested methodology – see the Ethiopian Holocaust.] They’re gassing people in ovens so as to heal the ailing economy of the Fatherland.”
“Gassing? Ovens? I thought that was for getting rid of disabled babies?”
“Ah yes, but the Nazis have used their engineering nous to ratchet things up a notch! It’s going to give their economy a decent chance of surviving on the new stock markets, which will begin at the close of play of this war”.
It should be noted that there are many large industries and organisations which promote bigotry, xenophobia and hate. But there’s a limit to how many arseholes you can write about simultaneously, before your hands start to smell like shit.
Surely if we’re going to try and fix these kinds of problem, better education is the key. How much longer must we be ruled with/by ignorance? These outbreaks of anger which cause so much sorrow and pain, should be seen as symptomatic of a much larger problem. If the people are given the chance, they will more often than not do the right thing. And yet the killings continue. Is that such a surprise when you consider that the personality of a psychopath is the same whether you kill six people or run a multinational corporation? I guess it makes it easier to see how such negativity is fostered within our societies. I think it would be fair to postulate that if you fell into the latter category (CEO), you’re more than likely ticking the Ted Bundy box as well.
Not that any one society or country is immune to this madness. Whilst I can admit to my fair share of high school anger and the enveloping shroud of darkness that ignited it. I would never dream of directing any of that towards my schoolmates or teachers. Attacking schools is not the way forward! Did you know that Jewish schools in London are attacked [ I appreciate what constitutes an attack may take in a broad spectrum of actions] on an almost daily basis?
It’s especially galling when you consider some people struggle with the concept that following a religion is not another name for being a radicalised member of some splinter cell. I actually knew a kid, he and his brother had converted to a religion during the last two years of school. A year or so later, I happened to be watching the news (insidious propaganda) and there was a story about said brothers, the youngest of whom had been killed during some sort of firefight in the desert.
Well, I guess that just about brings us full circle. Shoot cunts not kids.
As a man quite keen to distance himself from his own and anyone else’s emotions whenever possible, I’m not prone to tears. I might feel like wailing like a Muslim staring at a particularly egregious wall in Jerusalem at various points each day, but I’ve chosen a path of reason. Emotions are to rational thought as I hope these pellets will be to the bastard slugs that have taken to crawling through my flat every night.
Incidentally, it may be Jews who wail at the wall, but I’m yet to meet the person whose eyebrows don’t rise at the sight of the words ‘wailing like a Jew’, and in any case I don’t care.
Like all sane men, I will shed a happy tear at the end of The Shawshank Redemption. I also know of one song, and only one, that cuts me up just about every time I hear it, though I’ll never tell anyone what that song is lest they play it at me to render me useless. Other than that, though, very little provokes water works, unless I’m legless and have just realised once again how pointless I really am.
I was in the cinema yesterday to watch the remarkably over-rated Interstellar, but before we got to the point where Anne Hathaway starts shitting out words about how ‘love is the only thing stronger than gravity’ or whatever the hell she was on about, we had the trailers, and before that the adverts, including the ubiquitous Kevin Bacon monstrosity, but also including the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert, which up until then I’d not seen.
The First World War, just about anything to do with it, is the only other thing that has the power to make me weep like a girlfriend six months into a relationship with a man she now realises is not everything she once dreamed of, after he accidentally farted in the shower while she was shaving her legs nearby. Everything about that conflict is dreadful, and provokes anger and sorrow in me unlike anything else. Just thinking about the lines of men on both sides, pushed to their deaths by Melchett-style characters who never had to stare down a barrel themselves unless it was filled with brandy, makes my wish to avoid emotion where possibly crumble to dust.
That a supermarket has decided to use the Christmas truce of 1914 as the basis of an advert to sell Yule Logs comes as no surprise to me. That it’s Sainsbury’s, the supermarket that strikes me as the most decent available to those of us unable to afford Waitrose Tangy & Aromatic Lemon & Garlic Couscous, with two ampersands no less, is a bit more of a shock.
I get the point, with the wide-eyed Tommy and the shared chocolate bar, a man making his own little bit of peace with one German soldier. And if you’re going to do something like this, it’s as well to be on an important anniversary of the actual truce. But, my dear Lord Sainsbury, have you ever heard the expression ‘too soon’? Do you think, in this case, it may be a little too soon to use the horrific slaughter of millions of men in a sickening style of warfare to sell Taste the Difference Extra Thick Brandy Cream With Remy Martin at £2.65 a throw?
It’s too soon, Lord Sainsbury, it’s too fucking soon, because there will never be enough time passed between the First World War and now to justify using it to sell your Christmas shite to a public that’s going to buy it anyway. Nobody, not one single person, will decide to go into Sainsbury’s now because of the advert you’ve produced; nobody will find themselves thinking “I was going to pop into Morrison’s, because it’s near, but that Sainsbury’s advert has given me real food for thought. Their non-cynical use of surprisingly clean and chipper-looking Western Front troops to sell Sainsbury’s Mull Of Kintyre Extra Mature Cheddar has given me an overwhelming desire to drive the extra four miles to the nearest burnt orange supermarket to hand over more money than I can afford, because buying cheaper food and giving the savings to the British Legion just doesn’t seem like Christmas any more.”
It will always be too soon to use the First World War to further commercial gains in any way. Use the Second World War all you must, with the more obvious good versus evil and a set of heroes and villains who lend themselves particularly well to caricature. Save yourself some advertising spend by making next year’s ad from that bloody Downfall clip of Hitler raging, “How the hell have we let them be cheaper than us for a pack of baubles? How have we let their turkeys be so much more succulent than ours this year? Nein! Nein nein nein!”
Just leave the First World War alone. They weren’t romantic heroes, they were young men pushed unwillingly to their deaths at a rate of hundreds every minute. Those who survived refused to discuss it for very obvious reasons, not wishing to relive the utter horror of trench warfare for a single minute of their lives. And though they’ve all gone too now, it’s no excuse to start using them and their butchered mates to shift a few Luxury Fruit & Nut Christmas Puddings, 450g, serves 4.
In certain circles it’s controversial to think of Nazis as figures of fun. You could argue that what’s happening in Gaza at the moment is a direct result of people not understanding that it’s fine to point and chuckle at the corpses of the bad guys in the most obviously good versus bad war the world has yet known.
Then there’s the war before, the one that’s currently celebrating its 100th birthday with, as I type this, someone called the Duchess of Cornwall about to lay flowers on a tomb. If that’s Camilla then fuck me she’s undergone quite the rehabilitation since she killed that other girl everyone was so fond of. I think that was what happened; I don’t really follow the royal family, I just remember everyone banging on about it around the time Greg Rusedski lost a tennis final.
The TV’s just said the Queen is in some private church service while her various underlings do the serious stuff. Understandable. Being born eight years after millions upon millions of people died in the most sickening bloodbath the modern world has known must have really hurt the old dear.
She’s got a church to go to though, so that’s all right. Because this commemoration of the start of the First World War is all about churches, and gods, and crosses, and blokes in robes lined with more expensive material than they probably need if they’re honest. There’s a chap here in a Belgian graveyard talking about how ‘God is love’, and how God is almost certainly looking favourably at this very moment at the souls of the various people he demanded massacre each other a century ago.
If I might strike a note of potential controversy I’d like to float the idea that, today of all days, on the 100th anniversary of the most disgusting turn of events the human race has so far brought upon itself, religion might want to fuck off as far away from the rest of us as it can. On the day when we’re attempting to reconcile 21st century life with people who died drowning in mud in fields they had no reason to be in, long before any of us were born, we might do a little better without the religious banging on about how their fucking deity saw it all coming, let it all happen and did so for the love of us all.
Clearly, I’m not a religious man. Clearly it’s a farcical human construct based on a combination of a fear of death and the desire of some men (of course men) to control the actions of others, and ideally get rich off it. The Archbishop of Canterbury is still living in a gilded mansion and still wears clothes and silly hats made of material that could be cut and cut again into a thousand sweat-shop shirts to clothe a thousand soldiers’ corpses as they’re dressed for burial. And I was born in Canterbury so I’ve more reason than most to call the bloke a fucking disgrace.
But my own desire for religion to end is not the point, not today. Don’t the God Squad understand how standing in front of a huge cross and laying wreaths on the graves of people who died with the sound of ten thousands vicars egging them on for the good of ‘God, King and country’, and God first of course, is a tiny bit inappropriate? There’s a fair chance that God is right up there with the very fucking reasons these people died in such astounding misery, fear and sorrow. A generation bayoneted each other to death, because they were told that their god willed it.
The Nazis, regardless of the horror of what they did and how many innocent victims they dispatched in excessively egregious ways, can be laughed at for the mind-boggling methodology they brought to warfare. They are the Bond villains of history and they went the same way as Goldfinger, Zorin and the rest.
But the villains of the First World War were all of us. Stupid fucking humans sending millions of others to their deaths, and shooting those who refused to go. It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to us because there are no obvious bad guys to put into the history books, just kings and kaisers and clowns on all sides robbing us of a generation of bakers, tailors, brickies, butchers, doctors, sportsmen and plumbers.
All people who, 100 years ago, went regularly to church on a Sunday to thank their god for their life and livelihood. The same god who would decree their time was up within the next few years because he quite liked finding out just what shrapnel could do to a poet, and what bits would go where when a tank drove over a bus conductor.
Yes, it’s true – religion, we’re coming for you, and you’ll be lucky to survive another 100 years. But if you want any hope of surviving the next decade you’d do well to understand that sometimes you just need to fucking shut up and let humanity wallow in its self-inflicted shame.
I remember an assignment I was given in English class at the age of 14. It was to write a letter supposedly from a First World War Tommy to his girlfriend back home. The deal was the writer had just had both his legs blown off by a bomb blast and had to write and tell his significant other about it – while asking her to marry him at the same time.
“Since I’m not able to go down on one knee or anything…”
One hundred years after the first shots were fired a new battle is being fought. Today, the subject of a similar letter detailing the feelings of the soldiers of 1914 would depend on the views of the class‘s teacher.
If the teacher is a liberal, you might expect letters like this:
“All I want is a world of equality and diversity. I want gay people to be allowed to marry, and transgender people to be able to walk down the street without being stared at like some sort of Widow Twanky. I wish they wouldn’t give us beef in the mess rooms; I yearn for some vegan tofu. Top brass won’t even lay on a prayer room for the Muslims of the battalion. Not that there are any Muslims, but that’s hardly the point is it? I hope they allocate a portion of no-man’s land for a travellers’ site when all this is over. You’d have thought with all these maimed and crippled soldiers coming in every day they’d lay on a wheelchair ramp for going over the top…”
If the teacher is a conservative:
“Which red blooded Englishman doesn’t yearn to give it to the Bosch? Is it not a God given right? Here we are saving the French again! You know what really would be a betrayal? If a few years down the line our weak-willed leaders were to sell out our sacrifices and join up with the Hun and Frogs in some sort of big bureaucratic organisation dominated by the Germans and French, in which we were subservient and forced to bend to the will of a monolithic commission!”
Everybody seems to want a piece of the dead soldiers, everybody seems to want to second guess what they were thinking, everybody wants to use their sacrifice to big up their pet cause and achieve their own ends.
I have never been comfortable with history being used to push some thinly veiled moral lesson down our throats. I should probably be writing a sombre message about sacrifice or poppies, something poignant and filled with pathos.
I leave you with a quote from the recent play and film War Horse, which probably came closer than anything to capturing the true essence of the average First World War Soldier.
“My horse! My horse! Has anybody seen my horse? I’m stepping over mounds of bodies, my best friends are being butchered in droves and the only thing I give a shit about is my fucking pet cart horse! Earlier today I saw four brothers blown up by the same grenade leaving a bereft mother back home, kids are being orphaned, the survivors scarred for life but this is nothing compared to my horse! It’s missing for crying out loud! Missing I tell you! Miiiiiiiisssssiiiiiiiing!”
We all know somebody who is comprehensively full of shit. Often they take the form of the alcoholic propping up the bar. We exchange pleasantries with them whilst purchasing our drinks, nod politely at their idiotic delusions then beat a hasty retreat to our table with a wry shake of our heads.
Their diatribes are filled with speculative theories about what they could have been, or what they might still be if only they could be bothered. Every now and again, after passing their eighth pint through themselves, they may become aggressive and start hurling abuse and threats across the bar, threats which they cannot possibly hope to back up.
“I’m gonna fakkin ‘ave you!”
“Say it to my fakkin face you cant!”
“One more word sunshine, one more fakkin word!”
As we all know, when called upon to actually back up their words with meaningful actions they quickly fade away, continuing to mutter oaths beneath their breath before slipping quietly out via the toilet window at the earliest opportunity.
People like this make us feel better about ourselves; we warm ourselves with the comfort that we are not, and never will be, anything like them. The second from last thing we would want is for these people to actually matter and the very, very last thing we would want is for these people to actually be in charge of our fucking government.
I lost my patriotism at around the same time as I lost my faith, and though I yearn to have both back I have long since resigned myself to a permanent separation. Our current government’s pathetic posturing in the wake of the Malaysian plane tragedy has caused me to trace my family tree back through the centuries in the vain hope of finding a twelve-times-great grandmother born in County Cork so I might prove to myself I am not, after all, entirely of this Saxon blood.
“You’re going to regret that you nasty little Cossack oligarch. You won’t be welcome here on your holidays, oh no!”
“You’d better not try and put your money in any of our banks! What’s that? You don’t have any money in our banks? Well that’s just as well. You’d better not try it. Oh no!”
You don’t have to be a political scientist to understand the British government’s plan. Cameron and co are going to make threats and a lot of noise in a pathetic bid to outdo the French in the international dick-waving contest, and then, when it eventually simmers down and the whole sorry affair is forgotten about in favour of the revelation that Zippy and Bungle from Rainbow conducted an international child trafficking ring from a caravan in Clacton in the early 1980s, they’ll quietly claim the credit for helping to bring about a ‘peaceful solution to the crisis’.
Put simply, words aside, the British political classes aren’t going to do shit about Ukraine. The real insult to the victims of this outrage is that Cameron and co keep claiming that they might.