Lest We Forget…

11 11 2009

And this from the BBC…


The Pressure of the Poppy…

4 11 2009

In the Independent today there is a piece by sometime funny-man, and, if we’re honest only known for being on Have I Got News For You, Mark Steel. In this piece, entitled “Why should I be pressured into wearing a poppy?”, Steel ponders why there is a pressure for people to wear poppies at this time of year.

Some of the points he makes are valid ones, and naturally for a comic he runs with some ideas to their absolute logical conclusion. The whole piece is here to read. But then he gets involved in discussing Haig, and his role in the war and subsequent creation of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance. And, as befitting someone who really has no idea what he is writing about, Steel harps on about Haig being “as responsible as almost anyone for the slaughter”. Which has the unfortunate implication that Haig was in some way responsible for the origins of the war. Which, of course, he wasn’t. And of course there was nothing he could have done to quell the death rate in a war which saw the technology to kill them develop at an unprecedented rate.

Steel criticises Haig for being religious too. Which is merciful because if he hadn’t been, more men would have died. Which is ignorant, stupid and foolish. So Haig was religious. So what? It was perhaps something he needed to be in order to help him through the war.

Steel’s suggestions regarding the government and the current wars are nothing more than foolish, and missing the entire picture. In short his piece is a painful misunderstanding of both the current war and the Great War. It is difficult to know whether Steel was  being deliberately moronic in a comedic manner, or whether these views are actually his own. Either way it is just a bad article in a reputable paper.

A Moment of Reflection…

11 11 2008

Having spent much of this afternoon in the University’s Special Collections, I thought I would relay two of my findings which seem to have particular poignancy on this day.

They are both poems written by W.M. Letts in 1917.

The Deserter

There was a man, – don’t mind his name,
Whom Fear had dogged by night and day
He could not face the German guns
And so he turned and ran away.
Just that – he turned and ran away,
But who can judge him, you or I?
God makes a man of flesh and blood
Who yearns to live and not to die.
And this man when he feared to die,
Was scared as any frightened child,
His knees were shaking under him,
His breath came fast, his eyes were wild.
I’ve seen a hare with eyes as wild,
With throbbing heart and sobbing breath.
But oh! it shames one’s soul to see
A man in abject fear of death.
But fear had gripped him, so had death;
His number had gone up that day,
They might not heed his frightened eyes,
They shot him when the dawn was grey.
Blindfolded when the dawn was grey,
He stood there a place apart,
The shots rang out and down he fell,
An English bulelt in his heart.
An English bullet in his heart!
But here’s the irony of life, –
His mother thinks he fought and fell
A hero, foremost in the strife.
So she goes proudly; to the strife
Her best, her hero son she gave.
O well for her she does not know
He lies in a deserters grave.


John Delaney of the Rifles has been shot
A man we never knew
Does it cloud the day for you
That he lies among the dead
Moving, hearing, heeding not?

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Remembrance Day dammit…

28 10 2008

This will be short and to the point. I was in the petrol station this morning. Whilst I was there in walked a mother with her daughter who must have been about 5 or 6. It was reasonably busy in the shop. As they wandered around I heard the daughter ask her mother, “why are people wearing those flowers?

The mother’s response was “I don’t really know, but it’s what people do at this time of year.

I was disgusted. I felt like giving the mother a slapping and were it not for the fear of being arrested I think I might have.