Remembered as youthful and active. Dismissed by a brutally dishonest and cynical Tory regime as collateral damage.
This is a short piece to recognise the sacrifice of a generation. It cannot be done without reference to the hypocrisy of a government, with the consent of media and state broadcasting, in its failure to recognise that the war veterans and the care home generation broadly overlap
Well done to the Brexit process and mentality for successfully allowing nostalgia and wartime metaphor to permeate our collective consciousness. All this before Coronavirus and Covid-19 became part of our vocabulary and experience. It would appear to be a seamless jump from Brexit to Lockdown, when it comes to the romanticising of the parallel events of war and pandemic.
The experiences, losses and sacrifices of the wartime generation, the ordinary global citizens, are real, and should not be forgotten. The stories should be heard. The joys and heartbreaks, traumas and thrills. My mother was 17 years old at the outbreak of war. She embraced the excitement as a young girl, of prematurely leaving her seaside home, to aid the war effort in the big city, and eventually fell in love with a handsome sailor.
In peacetime, they lived 500 miles apart, and would never have crossed paths. They enjoyed much of the well documented Big Band dance-hall experience, and cut a very fine dash in iconic 1940’s black and white. The horrors and lasting traumas from the experience of a young man in active service on a minesweeper, and the agonising uncertainty of my family and that of countless others, at the sudden disappearance of their serving brothers/sons/nephews cannot adequately be portrayed in jingoistic celebrations. Nor can the terror of approaching bombs and the sudden loss of life, home and community. For a generation growing up in the 60’s and beyond, the war experience is at best romanticised in film, and contaminated by jingoism and xenophobia.
Who am I, or anyone born post war to deny or silence the voices and experiences of those who still remember, and recall the good times with the bad. They are the legitimate voices. They are also the generation of the Lockdown care-homes and funerals. The shielded, lonely and forgotten. The death statistics. They are the sacrificial lambs yet again. Remembered as youthful and active. Dismissed as elderly and vulnerable, by a brutally dishonest and cynical Tory regime as collateral damage.
Before switching off Call Kaye’s Steven Jardine, I noted first of all, the reminder from an elderly lady, that the VE celebrations in George Square and elsewhere around the country were more than tinged with sadness for the loss of loved ones. I also noted the presenter’s willingness to compare today’s lockdown with the restrictions of wartime Britain. As I scan my well-stocked cupboards and fridge for pre-breakfast snacks, and lay aside a nice bottle of wine for later on, the only comparison I can truly make is with those who are still forgotten by the current regime. The poor, the homeless, the unemployed and those living in paralysing uncertainty about ongoing furlough arrangements.
The VE day presentations run in parallel with the debate around synchronicity between UK and devolved governments about ending the lockdown. It’s not a separate issue. It’s extremely relevant. The Jingoistic element of the UK should be screaming from the rooftops about protection of our most vulnerable citizens, rather than waxing lyrical about freedom. I don’t hold out any hope for that, considering the disconnect between leaving the EU, and those who genuinely believed in global freedom from tyranny.
If this piece falls short of the expression of anger directed at the perpetrators of the most obscene and hypocritical of ironies behind jingoism, and the loss of WW2 survivors to a horrendously mismanaged pandemic, it’s because it’s loaded with sadness and grief. I’ll leave you, instead, with something I penned a couple of weeks ago. Remember; Stay at home and vote thoughtfully.
Well, you did vote for me
And you reap what you sow
You snatched your tiny pencil
and scratched your illiterate “X”
On my privileged brow.
King of the world!
I am your Churchill, your Trump
I am untouchable, Invincible
I say what I want and take what I need
I rise from a stagnant, entitled human swamp
Fuelled by money and greed.
I fought death, and I won.
But I will never be a better man
I am who I am.
I dazzle you with lopsided charm
Your mercurial God
Of shifting sands and rakish incline
Oh I have my enemies,
But look, everyone is calling me Boris again!
That’s a very encouraging sign