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May 2019



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Such a busy weekend of remembrance and rightly so. Our town, like many others, has giant red poppies on all the lamp posts and signposts. Today I want to remember not just those who died or were horribly injured but those who returned, with their lives changed. Here’s my grandad:

Just an ordinary Londoner, taken from an ordinary life and sent, amongst other places, to Gallipoli. No land fit for heroes when he came home. My other grandfather was also at Gallipoli but I have no photo of him at that time. My mother told me once that when she was a child, her father found her playing with a toy gun (she was quite the tomboy). He was very angry and took it away from her. I think that tells you a lot about how ex-soldiers felt.

I found the most moving part of yesterday’s Festival of Remembrance was Bryn Terfel singing Roses of Picardy. The poignancy of these old songs has lasted for a hundred years. Here’s John McCormack singing it.

The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet's poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver – what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man's veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe –
Just a little white with the dust.


Poignant post, B. Yes, millions had their lives changed forever either through losing loved ones, or soldiers and civilians terribly injured, or like your grandads who came home changed and haunted men. I always think of my great grandparents when they heard Alex had been killed and how that affected his twin brother who survived the war, and his other siblings. And those villages who lost so many of their young men. And yet the world does forget and returns to repeat the carnage in so many places. Just watching the march past on TV. I'm glad it's a sunny morning. x

Thanks. I've finished watching now. I was in floods when they played Dido's Lament.
Wonderful to see the German president there, I thought.
I always have floods of tears and have had throughout the week, even when there was a tribute to all the animals, mostly horses, which died terrible deaths.

Yes, it's wonderful when heads of countries commemorate together. Shame Trump decided yesterday that he didn't want to get wet.
Lovely to see your grandfather, thank you!
We loved our grandparents so much that it's nice to be able to pay tribute.