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Rememberings

So many things I keep meaning to post about, but then...don't. Not exactly a promising advert for someone that wants to write, but perhaps reasonable when factoring in learning disabilities/neuro diverse cognitive functions etc. I find that I get ideas, sometimes dictate them into my mp3 player, and then...procrastinate. That's one of the main difficulties I have. I can't function except at my own pace. I can't be forced nor coerced into making things happen because then I lose the plot.

Anyway.

Today is that time of the year again. The time of remembrance. What does that mean for most of us? I can't remember the second world war; I can barely remember the seventies: the decade in which I was born. So how do I remember the sacrifice of people I don't and will never know? People might think that a rather contrary and facetious point to make since what they really mean is that we remember the simple fact that British people died when nations collided. They died for our freedoms, though we will never know what would have happened if they had 'failed' since we won the war and we get to write history.

This is important because the problem with all this poppy day business is propaganda. It is important we remember, but it is even more important we remember accurately; history as they say is written by the victors and we aren't really being compelled to remember the dead from all sides. Isn't it time we did so? Otherwise how can we truly get past the attitudes that lead to nations colliding?

All I see with respect to Remembrance Day is a parade of medals and badges, emblems and esprit de corps. Where is the individual commitment to a personal reflection amid all this groupthink? When people turn up on the TV at this time - for whatever reason - if they aren't wearing a poppy they are pilloried. It has to be a red poppy too, the correct colour, white for peace, is frowned upon worn alone (Caroline Lucas wore both on TV last week). Red is the colour of blood, do we need any more bloodshed? As we are being compelled into this now-religious annual sanitised ritual the government is posturing to commit what will be mission creep in pursuit of the obviously-barbaric Islamic State.

Now religious: remembrance is the purview of the Christian church. The process of remembrance is held within. Why? War and religion seem fatally intertwined with the blood of ordinary, sadly gullible men and women, being both sacrifice and reward. Given the history of their relationship, shouldn't we at the very least be questioning the role that Churches play just as we should question the integrity of politicians and Prime Ministers who are invited to lay their phony wreathes at sanitised war memorials? Where is the blood? Where is the flesh and bone of those who died, in ignominy and horror, to serve these people? Why is a concrete memorial chosen as an epitaph of remembrance and not the mud and blood of the trenches? That's where these poor souls died? That's why they died. Instead we have concrete emblems that must be kept so clean that any speck of dirt is the most foul desecration in the eyes of society.

Sanitised: this year's memorial 'song' is a version of The Green Fields of France that omits the anti-war message. What is the point then? To make it appealing to viewers of Downton Abbey or patrons of the Simon Cowell dominated 'pop' industry? A nice 3 minute gentle song to make us all remember the 'heroes' and not the reality? If we can't see the truth of war then how can we ever see it for the disgusting obscenity that it really is?

This is no different to the cheering insecure masses with their plastic flags waving on the royal wedding, desperate for a sense of purpose and place. Or the ceramic poppy display outside the Tower of London, described somewhat unfavourably in the Guardian. The poetry of war as written by jingoists and politicians, not the ordinary working souls sent to their deaths or, perhaps worse, their survival.

Well how do you do, Private William McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your grave side?
A rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.
And I see by your gravestone that you were only 19
when you joined the glorious fallen in 1916.
Well, I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, William McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly?
did they sound the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugle sing 'The Last Post' in chorus?
Did the pipes play 'The Flowers o' the Forest'?

And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined
And though you died back in 1916
To that loyal heart are you always 19.
Or are you just a stranger without even a name
Forever enclosed behind some glass-pane
In an old photograph torn and tattered and stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Well, the sun it shines down on these green fields of France,
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance.
The trenches are vanished now under the plough
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it is still No Man's Land
And the countless white crosses in mute witness stand.
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation that was butchered and downed.

And I can't help but wonder now Willie McBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause?
Did you really believe them that this war would end war?
The suffering, the sorrow, some the glory, the shame -
The killing and dying - it was all done in vain.
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Did they beat the drum slowly?
did they sound the pipe lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down?
Did the bugle sing 'The Last Post' in chorus?
Did the pipes play 'The Flowers o' the Forest'?

No more war. 

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