(Un)Social Media?

Social media comes in for a lot of criticism – rightly or wrongly? It depends I suppose on what the individual uses it for. The prime aim (apart from making some Jewish guy enough money to live on for a couple of centuries) is to connect. Strip away the reasons for that connection (career, family ties, social occasions…….and perhaps some I won’t go into in this blog!) and it leaves a basic function. As humans we need to ‘connect’ with other humans (barring hormones, personality disorders or a strange desire for solitary confinement). How we do this has changed dramatically, irreversibly and in a way nobody could have predicted before the arrival of the World Wide Web. Did Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau really know what they were heralding when they gave us the internet? I can’t imagine they did – at least, not on the scale we have today and the impact it has had on society in general.

I myself don’t use Twitter, but do a daily scroll on Facebook and Instagram. Why? Good question. Some days, I think it may be a chip planted in my brain while I was asleep one night because I often find myself sitting staring at my phone screen, zombie like and with no idea how I got there. That does disconcert me a little but fortunately I’m aware of it – self-help is still effective and I can now discipline myself to resist the urge to pick up that little metallic thingy and stare blankly at it every time I sit down. Go me.

I think I border on the cynical Facebook user…..actually, there’s no border about it. I become animated when I see a post based on someone’s ignorance. Likewise, I wouldn’t normally choose to share a coffee with anyone holding extreme views so to discover them airing their homophobic, racist or downright offensive opinions in my living room is ridiculous……..deleted. Yes, but what if that deletee (I just made that up) lives around the corner from you, or works at the desk opposite? You see, we couldn’t have predicted the many predicaments we land ourselves in when accepting that person who seemed so nice, so unassuming and easy-going……….

We all have our bug-bear. What one person ‘Likes’ another may roll their eyes at. That brings me to that great dilemma. The LIKES…….did you know there is a ‘thing’ about LIKES? Reading many articles dedicated to the etiquette and possible faux pas in social media, you get the feeling we have created a whole host of complex personality disorders by joining the likes of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. As we speak, somebody somewhere is crying into their mid-morning latte at the discovery they didn’t get a heart on their Instagram photo. To gain a heart, you need a certain number of people pressing the little heart on your uploaded photograph……..

Apparently, Facebook has it’s own LIKE issues. Friends have fallen out over the lack of LIKES they had, when another friend may have had more. This is playground stuff and brings us back to the age old desire to be noticed, envied, admired. Only now it is played out in front of us, on that screen we stare at automatically (and possibly involuntarily?) each day. It’s ability to unnerve and destabilise us, regardless of age, gives psychologists much food for thought and the opportunity to study this phenomenon for many years to come. How do teens feel about their middle aged parents sharing their lives across the pages of Facebook? Especially if it may seem they have much more exciting social lives! What if you’re tagged into a ‘check-in’ (don’t get me started on them) and your lie (“can’t come into work, got the lurgy, cough cough”) is exposed for all to see, or your status declares your devastation at the death of an iconic rock star when all who REALLY know you remember your hatred of every record they made?

This is all tongue in cheek, of course it is-who am I to police social media and to criticise ? Although, if there’s a job going Mr Zuckerberg, I’m your man………………..

On a more serious note, it has been my own experience that social media can be a great place – a medium for those who otherwise would not have had their voices heard. You have to wonder how much information we would be receiving from the mainstream media if Facebook/Twitter etc didn’t exist, how recent events in Europe with regards to the refugee crisis may have been whitewashed, or diluted for the eyes and ears of the world. Problems have not necessarily been solved on our planet because of social media – but highlighting them and knowing they are there is surely the first step towards enlightenment and motivating us all to try to make the world a better place?

I believe that sharing and discussing world issues on social media is healthy – for those that want to that is. It is not for me to criticise or demean anyone who uses it for other purposes. If it annoys me, I try to move on – barring racist, homophobic, sexist or downright disgusting posts, which I duly report. What I have found is that whilst I enjoy sharing and airing political/environmental/social topics, it has invited comments to the effect that Facebook etc is intended for lighthearted topics only. Who wrote that rule? That is intimidation surely – nothing ‘lighthearted’ about that at all.

Social media is fairly new and evolving – it may even have a shelf life and eventually phase itself out. Somehow I doubt that, so for now we will all have to try to get along in this crazy, unreal world of  Posts, Likes and Shares!








Posted in Mental Health Awareness, observations in life, The world in general | Tagged | 2 Comments

Bucket List, Schmucket List

I am a person who writes lists. All the time. I write lists about lists; to-do lists, done lists. You name it, I have a list for it. The only one I haven’t compiled (let alone completed) is a Bucket List. When there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, days in the week etc for my own (very humble) lists, the Bucket variety seems a tad ambitious.
I equate writing a Bucket List with the unfortunate people who have been given a less-than optimistic prognosis health-wise; in that scenario I can quite understand a sudden desire to get all those things done that we keep meaning to do. Whether it’s *cliche alert* swimming with dolphins,climbing a mountain – or even hitching a ride on the back of a pickup truck in Nashville (No? Just me then). For those who are given the worst news anyone would ever want to hear, it’s perfectly understandable to realize that Time can be your enemy. However, I suspect very few terminally ill people do actually rush out and complete their ‘Bucket List’. For a start, they are ill, time-deprived and probably mainly wanting to spend precious time with their loved ones.
The phrase ‘kicking the bucket’ is a light-hearted referral to dying – derived from the ‘good’ old days when some poor souls were hanged for their misdemeanours(“stand some poor old soul on bucket, tie noose around said persons neck, kick the bucket”). Not such a light-hearted phrase when you discover it’s grisly origins, is it? Therefore, a Bucket List is inextricably linked to death.
That’s why I don’t like Bucket Lists. Life is for the living, so the saying goes. I get that….what’s the point of setting yourself tasks that you might just regret not doing if you were ever in the position of knowing that you weren’t going to be around for much longer? The more outrageous amongst us might just have “run naked through town centre singing Nessun Dorma” as say,number five on our Bucket List. That might be an option if one is going to pop one’s clogs imminently. Somehow though, I don’t think such an eccentric venture would be viewed with enthusiasm or approval by the unfortunate individuals who witnessed it, especially if the culprit was in exceptional health!
Seriously though, forget the Bucket List. What are the best memories you have? I imagine the highest on the list are the random, spontaneous moments that didn’t seem so significant at the time yet have remained so vivid and special that it’s a joy to have them called to mind again and again.
I remember watching a sub-titled movie with my Dad one rainy Saturday afternoon; the two of us bored and restless. Me because I had nowhere to go and nobody to go there with. My Dad because the racing had been cancelled, his incomplete betting slips discarded in frustration. We inadvertently stumbled across an obscure Russian film on BBC 2. Our initial reluctance to watch a rather sombre black and white epic disappeared as we both became drawn in by the plot. I won’t bore you with the details. In a word it was SAD. So much so that I cried at the end….and I swear I caught my Dad wiping a tear from his eye too. The rest, as they say, is history. I now drive my family insane with my obsession for dark, Nordic, sub-titled dramas. That to me, was a special moment. I didn’t have ‘watch obscure Film Noir with Dad one rainy Saturday afternoon’. It just happened and it has stayed with me all my life.
It seems like yesterday five year old me was sitting in a city centre cafe with my Mum wiping my mouth with her handkerchief, putting it back in her large leather handbag and clipping it tight shut with the brass metal clasp. We went back out into the store and I continued following her around, mesmerised as her high heels clip-clopped on the highly polished floorboards. The sub-conscious is a marvellous thing. I obviously didn’t know at the time how vivid the memory would be but I’m grateful for it nonetheless.
The point I am making is this. Don’t make Bucket Lists. Do that thing that you want to do. Just don’t list them like some kind of ‘to do’ challenge. If you don’t make a list, you can’t berate yourself for being such a procrastinating, pathetic wimp.
The general ethos amongst us these days appears to be a ‘live for today’ attitude. You Only Live Once. Really? How do you know? What if you live more than once and your next life is based on what you accomplished in your previous one?

“So, what did you do in this life?”
“I lived. For today.”
“What did you do for others?”
“Erm…..well, it’s like this. I thought You Only Lived Once, so I was so busy living for today….”
“Right – in your next life you’re going to be a gnat….learn from your mistakes. Next!”
Maybe Buddha put it more eloquently, but a satisfactory, fulfilling life resulting in true happiness really does derive from helping others. Not necessarily from living a hedonistic, over-indulgent life. Fond memories are not designed, life doesn’t work like that. It really is those seemingly insignificant moments we remember when we look back. The times when we connected with others and just simply enjoyed their company.

Bucket Lists have been done to the death (pun intended). In the quest to have the most original Bucket Lists I’m sure some may have even met an untimely end. How ironic.

“Note to self: the Sahara marathon wasn’t such a great idea.The End”.

There’s nothing more ‘middle-class’ than a Bucket List. For most of them cost money, lots of it. They invariably involve travel to exotic destinations. In reality, a Bucket List is a luxury few can afford. I’d hazard a guess there are those who have actually gone into debt to complete one. Does that mean the more financially deprived have less of a life? I think not. Don’t make a Bucket List; and more importantly, never EVER re-mortgage your house to complete one……………

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Liverpool is finally finished

Please don’t think I’m being negative with that title; it’s the complete opposite. Liverpool has gone through so many stages over the years, most of which have led me to claim that I would enjoy the city ‘when it’s finally finished’ – meaning done…..complete.

I’ve never stopped going into town. From the ride on the top deck of a bus or occasionally an even more exciting trip via the less regular train service into Exchange Street Station as a very young child, to the wanton destruction in my teens of fine buildings (luckily many of them survived the 70’s penchant for the demolishing of what seemed to be anything historical by kipper tie-wearing bureaucrats whose obsession with ‘modernisation’ knew no bounds), then despair as political infighting and extremism created financial meltdown and Liverpool appeared to be abandoned. Bereft of hope, credibility and it’s reputation.

I had a recurring dream in my teens of going into town and, veering off the usual route through familiar streets, I would wander down towards the derelict dock buildings. My late father was a ship repairer and in my dream I would meet him as I passed; he asked me why on earth I was in that part of town. Then I would walk with him towards one of the many stark yet imposing warehouses that line the River Mersey. We would discover a wonderful arcade of exclusive stores and marvelling at their existence, promised to let others know they were there. I had that strange dream many times so imagine my amazement when, several years later, I stood in astonishment in the amazing Albert Dock. It was exactly as I had seen it so many times. I’m not sure why I had that dream and sceptics would argue it was nothing more than coincidence. My dream began to include talk of twinning Liverpool with New York and a vision of a huge screen at the Pier Head declaring this. Growing up with an obsession of all things American (it’s fine I’m over it now), perhaps it was down to wishful thinking. Whatever it was, I’m glad my dream came true and the culmination of so many years of ‘hard knocks’ have now led to Liverpool most certainly being ‘finished’.

Yet although the developments are not over yet and there is a continuous programme of refurbishment and construction, I do feel Liverpool has finally arrived. Rather, it is back where it always belonged – one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and beyond. Our history of poverty, slavery and maritime excellence are a strange mix and we hold our hands up in shame at the slave trade and our part in it. We took a battering during the second World War and, after relishing in the spotlight during the Merseybeat era, we rode out the recession with Scouse staying power. Through it all, the humour, wit and resilience that makes Liverpool’s citizens a particularly affable lot enabled us to take all the knocks on the chin. We have grown up, we’re sophisticated yet fun – sarcastic yet friendly. Liverpool is living proof that racial integration works – our vibrant, culturally superior city would not be what it is otherwise. Bill Bryson once said that Liverpool always felt like ‘some place’. I know exactly what he means.

It was only recently we witnessed the amazing, emotional sight of the three Queens making their ‘salute’ to the Cunard Building at the Pier Head to mark 175 years of transatlantic travel. Next week, we are in store for another treat; Transatlantic 175 promises to be a visual, musical and gastronomical delight, celebrating the links and cultural influences from across ‘the pond’. How fitting that it’s held over the American Independence weekend – in some respects Liverpool has more in common with New York than any British city. Our thirst for music, art and anything deemed slightly different is insatiable but for 4th and 5th July I’m sure there will be many satisfied Scousers plus a wonderful eclectic mix of visitors from further afield, making up the thousands that are expected to attend. What a fitting way to herald Liverpool’s status as a world class, dynamic yet ultimately friendly city.

Perhaps my dream was a bizarre coincidence and nothing more. However, I would like to believe it has some significance; my youngest daughter is working on T175. Her role is project co-ordinator of The Very Big Catwalk – an attempt to break the Guinness World Record of the largest number of people taking part in a catwalk. It’s being held at the Pier Head. With a huge screen projecting the proceedings. Coincidence indeed………..

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Mental Health Awareness Week

Above any other form of health issue, mental wellbeing is an issue that is largely misunderstood. It carries a stigma, one that perhaps we are all guilty of perpetuating knowingly or unknowingly – “don’t tell her/him, she’ll go MENTAL!” – we’ve all heard it, most of us have said it. What it implies is a lack of control, perhaps even a negative response to a situation. I do believe that a huge number of people perceive mental illness as a weakness on the sufferer’s part – almost a condition that is brought on through one’s own fault or even fabricated for attention. The difficulty is, I believe, that mental illness and (genetic) personality disorders are confused as one and the same thing. I don’t think they are – experts I apologise in advance!

Mental ILLNESS implies a condition that can be improved, hopefully cured. That’s the good news. Personality disorders are, in my humble/ignorant(?) opinion, something that is written into a person’s DNA. I’m sure someone may put me straight on this and again, I apologise for my ignorance…….

However, it is apparent that some of us are more prone to mental health issues – be it through nature, nurture, trauma etc. and the key is to recognise and try to understand why people suffer with depression, anxiety and a whole range of complex, life-limiting problems that cripple self-esteem, confidence and the hope of leading a full life. If you find it hard to understand, that is infinitely more acceptable than allowing your ignorance to scoff, ridicule or refuse any sympathy for these conditions.

Fear is fear – whether it is fear of real danger or any situation where you find yourself in a blind panic; the symptoms are all the same. Fight or Flight – heart racing, nausea rising in the throat like an erupting volcano, limbs turning to jelly rendering you immobile and frozen to the spot. It could be facing a particularly hostile interview panel, diving off a rock into the sea, facing surgery………………or sitting at home watching TV. That’s the erratic, irrational nature of fear. Some situations warrant it in order for us to release the adrenalin needed to help us through a tricky situation, whilst for those who suffer with panic attacks, sometimes there are no triggers.

My first panic attack occurred whilst sitting on a bus on my way to school when I was in Fifth Form. A lovely sunny day – I was grateful for two free periods in the morning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and a pleasant stroll to the bus stop in the early summer sunshine. One stop away from school and suddenly my heart began to race ferociously. My vision blurred as I tried to distract myself by looking out of the window, confused and scared at what was happening to me.

Once you experience that kind of fear, you don’t forget it. Your mind is very clever, and associates that terrible moment of impending doom with where you were and what you were doing. Hence, getting the bus to school the next day was filled with blind fear and gut-wrenching trepidation.

I think fortunately we have come a long way since my mental health issues began. I didn’t know what was happening to me or why; just that my everyday, carefree life was over and suddenly I was afraid of everything; this resulted in severe black moods that jeopardised my faith in life itself. I now believe it was a mixture of emotional stress, hormonal imbalances and shyness. Had I sought the help I needed maybe it would have enabled me to rid myself of chronic anxiety for good but I chose to get myself through it, rightly or wrongly. Now, rather than resent what happened to me I am grateful for what it taught me. I do hope it has made me a more understanding person – and the thread of anxiety problems that have woven their way through my life have given me a ‘think outside the box’ philosophy that has held me in good stead.  We are a product of our thoughts and our interpretations of those thoughts; the first step though, is a clearer understanding of mental health issues, an acceptance that we are all susceptible to them at any time and that seeking help as soon as possible is the key. Too many people suffer in silence, too many sensitive souls have passed before their time after struggling through life became a burden too heavy to bear. Mental Health is not possible for all, just like any illness that is prevalent in the world, but changing our attitudes towards those who suffer will enlighten and educate everyone so that we can all learn to recognise problems and get medical advice sooner rather than later.

“No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your own head” (Terry Josephson).

Posted in Mental Health Awareness, War veterans/Remembrance | 4 Comments

The disease of our time

Dementia does what is says on the tin; this cruel, unrelenting disease dements the sufferer and concerned relatives alike. From the initial stage of mild depression, possibly introvert behaviour and an absent mindedness that we all (without exception) display throughout our lives to full blown mental torment that indiscriminately robs the sufferer of  happiness, independence and eventually, their sanity.

My first experience with dementia was when my paternal grandmother, no longer able to care for herself in her flat that was yards from our family home, came to sleep on our sofa while my Mother frantically sought the help that was needed. I can remember her waking up one morning, accusing my brother and I of keeping her awake all night with our noisy friends. We were barely in our teens at the time and we stifled giggles at the thought of our parents allowing us a riotous party, on a school night too! My Mother quietly hushed our mocking tones and explained we had to ignore her ludicrous accusations and incoherent ramblings as she really ‘wasn’t well at all’. My Nan was soon placed in a local nursing home, where we visited her until she died.

My maternal grandmother also became a victim to dementia. An immaculately groomed, proud woman evolving into a wild-haired runaway, fleeing in the early hours dressed only in her nightdress – desperately searching for some long dead relative, no doubt. She too was admitted to a nursing home and eventually lost her battle with the disease that took her mind and ultimately, her life.

Neither experience could have prepared me for watching the mental decline of my intelligent, funny father – his acerbic wit fought valiantly until the end as dementia and subsequently lung cancer, took him from us. Noticing how he arranged his pens, daily medication and glasses case each morning with military precision on the table beside his chair, it became increasingly obvious something was troubling him; on occasion you could see him staring at the items, frowning and then whistling nervously as he fought to remember if something was missing from the line-up. Then he would have an ‘Aha!’ moment and look in the drawer for his betting slips. Studying ‘the form’ on the racing pages of The Daily Mirror was an essential start to his day. His love of the Sport of Kings had spanned decades, not bringing any huge financial rewards but his modest flutters resulting in the occasional success that he felt warranted further investment! This daily task began to frustrate him and the hobby he once enjoyed only served to cause him distress, alerting him possibly to the fact that his concentration, dexterity and analytical skills were failing fast. Increasing confusion, verbal aggression and withdrawing from conversation followed. Yet somewhere locked inside the mental turmoil he was going through, my Dad would emerge with some witty remark and we would fall about laughing, welcoming the return of the man who we had all fussed over so much since losing our Mother.  It is a complete irony that he succumbed to cancer so quickly; was it better that, than fading slowly away, becoming a shadow of his former self? The guilt at believing this to be so never goes away, yet I am resigned to the fact that it is true.

I’m now witnessing dementia with my feisty, strong and independent mother-in-law. The head of her family since the untimely death of her husband at 57, she adopted the role with fortitude and a no-nonsense attitude that stood her in good stead whilst setting her family the perfect example of how to overcome the hurdles that we all face in life – be it loss, ill health, emotional upset or just plain old misfortune. She had her own mother come live with her and looked after her until she died just a few months short of her 100th birthday. A mother of six, grandmother of eleven, great grandmother of twelve and great GREAT grandmother of two (nearly three), hard work never daunted her, she did it all without the necessity for praise and recognition. As I looked through the glass panelled doors of the hospital she was recently admitted to, waiting for visiting time to begin, it was difficult to see how the easy-going, strong woman I knew had become the frail, bewildered old lady shuffling along the corridor. A heart-wrenching moment for me, doubly so for her loyal family who are struggling to find the way forward to alleviate her mental suffering.

How are we meant to deal with this complex condition? This disease that doesn’t always present itself honestly, but rather creeps up on the sufferer with a cunning, merciless greed that eradicates all sense of self. Dementia stealthily shuts down brain cells with no sense of remorse until we are left with the shell of our loved ones. All we can do is watch, as they search aimlessly for whatever is troubling them at any particular moment. It could be a book, purse, coat – even a relative long dead and the home where they lived many years ago. We lie to them, we placate them with promises of returning to an address which possibly no longer exists. It feels as if we are patronizing them and we vaguely remember the brusque response and incredulous reaction we would have got before the disease enveloped their rational mind. Our soothing, lullaby-like reassurances may calm them initially – only for yet another problem to rear it’s head a day or, if we are unlucky, an hour or so later as they become anxious and fearful we aren’t listening to their plight. Paranoia prevails, we are all their enemy.

Not enough is being done. Not enough help is out there in the initial stages of this disease. Media campaigns are not enough. As more and more people are diagnosed (not just the elderly, either) we are going to have to invest in research and make sure we wipe out the scourge of Dementia once and for all.

Posted in War veterans/Remembrance | 1 Comment

Living in the future

As the expertly crafted pumpkins are discarded and Dads finish off the last of the Trick or Treat sweets their beloved little Draculas/witches/dead cheerleaders/axe murders (really?) collected on Halloween, waiting in the wings is Bonfire Night……….or maybe not. Guy Fawkes maybe one of the first would-be terrorists we know of and his foiled plot was pretty impressive (CIA, I’m kidding) – but our fascination with fireworks seems to be diminishing, especially when you hear them going off all year round – New Year’s Eve celebrations are nothing to many of us without those anticipated ear-busting bangs at midnight, dogs everywhere scurrying off to a safe corner to tremble into January 1st once again.

Christmas is the ‘main event’ after Halloween; we have scarcely sighed with relief as the endless parade of ghouls, ghosts and serial killer outfits are removed from shop windows, than the yuletide consumer-fest is, it seems, unveiled overnight. We are currently enjoying unseasonably warm weather (climate change is real, I assure you….but that’s a whole other story/blog) so to be met in a store by festively decorated pine trees and Bing Crosby crooning about his hopes for an Arctic deluge is nothing short of bizarre when I’m still wearing t-shirts. Has it always been like this? I think maybe it has, for a long time anyway; I distinctly remember gasping in disbelief at some very beautiful (and expensive) Christmas decorations sitting alongside garden chairs and parasols in an upmarket department store…….in August. That was more than thirty years ago, those halcyon days of the 80’s when hairspray and shoulder pads were more important than life itself (and not just for the men).

I think it’s important to live ‘in the moment’ even for just a few minutes every day. Mindfulness (a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings) is becoming more popular with classes running nationwide and a recognition of the exercise and it’s health benefits being proven. Sounds good to me, but for the cynical perhaps it’s a bit too ‘New Age’. If that is you, please bear with me………

Whatever your views on mindfulness, living in the moment makes perfect sense. Of course, we have to plan for the future and organize our lives in order to obtain some sort of structure but it is also important not to allow our lives to forge ahead at breakneck speed as we hurtle from one ‘festival’ to another. This isn’t the easiest thing to do considering the constant bombardment of our senses imploring us to buy ‘stuff’. Any ‘stuff’, just as long as we buy it; from Easter eggs on New Year’s Day to Christmas cards on balmy September Saturdays. The advertisers cleverly have us thinking about the next big event far too prematurely, so mindfulness in my opinion is becoming more and more a necessary part of our lives.  It works for me anyway!

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We Will Remember Them

The most significant event for me this week wasn’t the Scottish referendum, or the unusually balmy(and barmy!) September weather or even J Lo’s new music video (please don’t watch it if you already haven’t – especially if you’re a woman and already despair at the constant, demeaning portrayals we are bombarded with; actually, don’t watch it if you’re a man either. Your eyes will fall out. At least, they nearly will and you will hate your mysogynistic self for at least an hour).

What really moved me this week was a short visit by an old gentleman to the Jospice charity shop where I work. He entered the shop quite unobtrusively and handed over a pair of freshly laundered trousers he had placed neatly in a carrier bag. He explained that he had lost a lot of weight recently and would like to donate them, which we gratefully received. He has come to the shop several times with donations; the clothes are always freshly laundered and carefully folded in their bag. This day, he had another bag with him.

“Can I just show you something?” he asked quietly. Of course, my co-worker and I agreed. He removed a small, gilt-edged photo frame from the bag. It was a photograph of him receiving a generous handshake from Prince Charles, both resplendent in their military uniform. Genuinely impressed and touched by his willingness to share with us his obviously special moment, we both congratulated him and thanked him for bringing the photograph in to show us. He had attended the World War commemorations in Normandy a couple of months previously and lamented over the dwindling numbers of veterans and how he had left military life prematurely as his wife had requested. We thanked him again for bringing the photograph in to show us; he carefully placed the photo frame back in the bag and left the shop. I watched as he walked away, noticing the clothes that hung desperately to his obviously diminishing frame and felt so sad at his growing frailty and thought about the gradual demise of his generation.

Although I have no tolerance of war (especially today’s ‘campaigns’ that appear to be more propaganda-based and fuelled by greed and the acquisition of oil supplies) I am nevertheless in awe of the First and Second World War veterans, civilians and soldiers alike. They endured sacrifice, hardship, loss and devastation on a scale we can only try to imagine. They did all this and yet without any professional counselling and very little or no significant financial help or support.  Whilst I would never advocate mine or future generations experience such similar horrors, it does lead me to believe that deprivation is good for the soul, however cruel. They ARE a dying breed, the war generation. That makes me so sad. For I don’t think we ever really let them know how wonderful they truly are; their strength coupled with their humility is endearing and inspiring at the same time. If only Sebastian Faulk’s Birdsong was compulsory reading in all comprehensive schools – there can’t be a much better insight into the hell that was the trenches in the First World War. We need to remember them, always.

That brings to mind the contrast with our world today; the victory that was ours in 1945 prevented a whole new, Ayran landscape forming. Our world, our country, is racially diverse and all the better for it. The blending of cultures, creeds and customs is the only recipe for our beautiful planet. We have to embrace progress – which means welcoming change. This may not be what a lot of people want to hear but those wonderful men and women, who are no longer with us, sacrificed their own prosperity and all too often their lives to create the world we have now. We in the West are very often cosseted and spared the suffering some nations endure on a constant basis – that old man reminded me how lucky we are and how much we owe him. Lest We Forget.

Posted in War veterans/Remembrance | 2 Comments