Five Days – Day One

I’ve a lifelong passion for military history and military graveyards (which might sound morbid I guess but its the story behind those thousands of gravestones that fascinates me). From Arlington to Gallipoli, Montecasino to Dunkirk millions of men and women and their families have been affected by the endless grind that is the machinery of war. With this is the ever present spectre of death ……………..

The sky is grey and wet

I’m sitting staring at the nothingness,

I’m searching for you

My hands are restless

I can feel the warmth of your skin but you’re not here.

The silence is so very loud,

I’m screaming your name,

Where are  you, why don’t you hear me?

They keep asking me if I’m alright

Keep bringing me a blanket,

Keep wanting me to eat.

I want to laugh, alright?

What is alright?

My soul is empty,

My head is full

A whirlpool of angry thoughts, you promised you’d come back.

And now all I have left is a handful of photographs,

You, so full of life

In a barren wasteland obliterated by war.

A white cross on a distant hill,

Come home

Please come home.

(photo courtesy of 123RF)

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The quest for equality

Not a political rallying cry, not a question of colour or religion – it’s all about sex.

Why does your physical make-up still have such a huge impact on your existence? From Florence Nightingale to Emmeline Pankhurst – From Marie Curie to Germaine Greer – each of these unique women and so many others like them have opened doors for our generation, raised that ubiquitous glass ceiling and obliterated the gender-based barriers of old. Yet despite this “progress” the slightly sour taste of an old boys club is still redolent in the modern age.

Physical strength comparisons are a moot point – there are simply and without discussion certain activities where a man’s brute strength is greater than that of a woman’s – it is as it is!

What I’m referring to is that faintly condescending manner, surprised and patronising revolving around things business related, mechanical, sporting and financial. I’m just blown away that because you’re a girl apparently makes you somehow slightly less important, less worthy and less capable than a boy.

Postscript: This is not meant as an anti-men diatribe in the slightest – however, these are two examples (Honor Killings and Womens Rights) of why the road to equality is still a long, bumpy and steep climb.

 

 

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”

There was a shy, new moon out last night – barely cracking a smile. In fact if you blink you’d probably miss the silver sliver. Yet there was just a hint of “watch out world, here I come”.

For some obscure reason, it brought a flood of sentiment (not particularly useful while dodging traffic but there is no leash powerful enough for the beast that is the human psyche). There is an afrikaans word that perhaps best encapsulates the emotion – “huimwee”. No literal translation as such – hankering, yearning, nostalgia  … yet more ethreal somehow, a more will o the wisp thing. The what ifs, perhaps and maybe’s, different roads to take, different choices to make.

The fraility of human existence was never more clear than during a documentary on television filmed by an ITN reporter called Jon Steele and called “Baker Boys – Inside the Surge”. Based on the experiences of a company of american soldiers in Iraq it chronicles the experience of being at war in the modern age. No short sharp battle, a winner and a loser – instead a constant, draining war of minds and hearts. I’m fascinated by history and hand in hand with that military history courtesy of us war-mongering humans. I feel unqualified to pass judgement on being at war – my ground level, uncontaminated opinion is that death cannot be recommended but sadly good people die while politicians play at puppet master.

A sea of blank eyes greeted the documentary maker’s questions – “how do you feel”, “what do you think”? Optimistic to expect the truth I guess. Would they do it again – I would imagine the majority would sign on the dotted line. War generates income and in an economic recession people do what they need to to put bread on the table.

It begs the question though – what does the average 20 year old see by the quiet light of a silvery moon on foreign shores?

Baker Boys – Inside the Surge

War – The bigger picture

I’m not naieve – i understand why countries go to war – i was young and involved with the boys of my generation who fought and died in our own own Bush War. Last night I commandeerd the television to watch a documentary called Restrepo about an american plattoon in some half ass backwater in the middle of Afganistan called the Korangal valley (the timeline would appear to have been late 2008/early 2009). I’m a history addict (recent and past) particularly military history (but you’re a girl …. yes I know, go figure). The documentary is crafted by one Sebastian Junger and is, in my opinion, quite brilliant. The typical documentary structure is missing ie background story, narrator etc etc and yet that seems to make the film making that much more dramatic. It is stark and sad and violent yet the biggest impact was the post deployment interviews – young men with dead eyes, fearful of saying too much and yet so desperate to convey their message (the irony is, according to the doccie the US withdrew from that “Valley of Death” in 2009 – what a waste).

Am I anti war? No. i’m anti the lives that war destroys – the living and the dead.

Restrepo

War

“The rhythmic cadence of boots on a cobbled street,

The clatter of wooden wheels as villagers flee,

The distant boom of approaching guns

The air is thick with fear

A baby cries, sensing the mayhem

Seeking it’s mother but she lies buried, embraced in a fertile tomb

Young men dig in, singing, in one voice to banish the urge to scream

The harsh bark of an officer calls them to attention.

Words are spoken – words meant to inspire, words meant to comfort

The sizzling hiss as light and heat are extinguished,

The rumble of tanks rolls through the night

The silence is shattered,

The blackness is crisscrossed with bolts of red and white

Frantic calls, “courage boys – here they come”

Agonising shrieks, the wet smack of bullets striking flesh

The swish of bayonets – limbs asunder

The sound of death, a final labored breath

Malevolent rivers of sticky red blood”

On the off chance that anybody remembers this from another blog, in another place – I haven’t pinched it, it was Wildie then, it still is.