Tuesday, 17 August 2010


The following poem was written by Siegfried Sassoon in 1919, less than a year after the end of WWI. He was already afraid that the horror was being forgotten, that this could happen again, after all their sacrifice. Thinking about this year and the deaths of the last few WWI veterans, the suicide bombers, the wars, the nuclear proliferation, I wonder what he'd think about the world of 2010?


Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same--and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Is it just me...

...or does anyone else feel a little bit uncomfortable about *celebrating* VJ (Victory in Japan) Day? I mean, I can understand celebrating the end of the war, and I know that many Japanese POWs were treated horrendously. But just remembering those 2 atomic bombs - Little Boy and Fat Man - that ended the war and their consequences for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as for the world in general since, I can't help but think that celebrating this in any way is somewhat distasteful. Especially bearing in mind the questions that have since been raised about whether or not they were actually 'necessary' (putting aside general discussions on whether the use of atomic weapons can ever be deemed necessary).

As ever, no answers, just questions, doubts and points to raise.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pondering disasters - man-made and natural

Today is the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki which killed around 80,000 in the first day or two after detonation. The 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima was on Friday, and Little Boy killed 166,000 people there in the first two days alone.

Discussion continues recently of the best way to preserve and restore Auschwitz as a historical site so the Holocaust can never be forgotten or denied.

The current floods in Pakistan are affecting around 12 million people now, and although the known death toll is only around 1500 this is mainly because many bodies have yet to be found (and probably never will) and because the diseases and famine which will kill so many more have yet to strike.

I've been thinking about these items which have come up on the news in the last few days, and wondering how to expain them to my children - to all our children. The floods are the easy part - children seem to be born with a natural appreciation of the awe-inspiring power of nature. Nature is neither good nor bad, it just is. And natural disasters happen. Though it is hard to explain why we can't help more, why rescue workers can't get to people trapped in valleys by the flood waters.

But how to explain atomic bombs and the Holocaust? In fact, I think I'd find it easier to explain atomic bomsb than the Holocaust. Obviously, children need to know and need to know thoroughly about these things, to ensure they never happen again, but bloody hell, doesn't some of your innocence die when you discover mankind is capable of such things?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Disaster in Pakistan

Over 1 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan and as the flood water contaminates the drinking water, disease will surely spread. All those of us who have children can imagine what it would be like trying to nurture your family under those circumstances, so I urge everyone who can manage even a tiny amount to donate the appeal now.