My old mucker O’Reilly of the Hip Flask (see my earlier ‘Declaration of Arbroath’ post) contacted me by email this evening; he and I served in the same Regiment, many moons ago. O’Reilly brought to my attention a post on another blog, that of ‘Wings Over Scotland’ which is hosted by the Reverend Stuart Campbell. Reverend Campbell was casting some observations about Remembrance Sunday and the events surrounding the commemoration; there’s a link to Reverend Campbell’s musings at the end of this post below.
To give you a feel for Reverend Campbell’s take on matters remembrance, here’s a snippet from his blog:
“This sick perversion of ‘remembrance’ hasn’t just been noticed by chippy Scottish nationalists (who particularly note the transparent, cynical, unimaginably tacky £50 million jamboree planned for just before the independence referendum, rather than on the day in November that has served for the last 96 years). Many others, including those who served in the even worse war that followed, see what has become of it.”
Reverend Campbell got me thinking and so I penned my reply to O’Reilly which I share with you here, bearing in mind that I served for 20 years as a commissioned officer and did time (well, 4 tours actually) in Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles’, the Falklands War and the so-called First Gulf War (1990/91).
In recent years I’ve felt myself becoming increasingly alienated from the relationship between the armed forces and society as a whole, viewed as it is these days through the bi-focal lens of a mendacious, self-serving political class in cahoots with a superficial, ‘celebrity’ (whatever that means) obsessed media. And as for all that reading out the names of the fallen at the Despatch Box, it makes me want to vomit; I turn off the wireless. Imagine reading out the names of the 19,240 men killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme? Fucking idiot politicians.
It saddens me that I feel this way, but I struggle to associate with what’s happening here … to the extent that I didn’t watch the ‘Festival of Remembrance’ programme on the TV last night nor, as it happens, did I watch the Cenotaph goings-on this morning. I flicked on the TV at 1059 hrs … I listened to Big Ben, I stood quietly for 2 minutes and reflected as you would expect, heard the gun salute, listened to The Last Post with a lump in my throat, watched HM lay her wreath, switched off the telly and got on with my day.
By contrast, on Friday I stood outside Tesco in Elgin and sold poppies for several hours and there experienced the quiet, generous, understated, gently humorous, humbling, no-fuss relationship between a British serviceman (albeit retired, at that) and the citizens he served/serves. The Reverend Campbell’s article is excellent; it makes me delighted to think that I missed what seems to have been utter crap on TV last night.
Quite where it’s all heading is anybody’s guess. You may have already seen Christopher Booker’s lamentations in the Daily Telegraph today on the treatment of the armed forces by our political elites over the past 30 years – you can read it here … http://tinyurl.com/nn9a6bz
Per Ardua (which is the motto of my Regiment).
Here’s Reverend Campbell’s article, ‘The Great Circus’ … http://tinyurl.com/o62kx5b