Saturday, September 5, 2009

The most important thing I'll ever write

When you strip away everything else, this is the most important thing I can say while I am lucky enough to be alive on this planet:

I am extremely lucky to be alive, to be able to enjoy life and be free to fire off my views into the ether.

As they say in Private Eye:'s it.

I'm moved to write that in the wake of the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Second World War.

My grandfather was involved in the First unpleasantness. In fact, he was lucky to survive one of the biggest culls of that war, one of Winston Churchill's much-forgotten and bloody boo-boos, namely the Gallipolli expedition. Many of my gradfather's comrades in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars perished. Indeed, he gave a lift to a comrade who had lost his horse, on the back of his horse. The comrade was then shot in the back. Essentially, my grandfather's act to give a comrade a lift saved him from a bullet with his name on it.

In the Second unpleasantness, my uncle was killed. I've done quite a bit of research on his death on board SS Tregarthen (see above). It happened at dead of night in the middle of the Atlantic. U boat. Torpedo. They had high explosive on board the Tregarthen. Bang. Game over. From what I have been able to find out about him, my uncle was quite a lad. He was particularly prolific at catching rabbits.

My father was lucky in several respects. On one occasion on service in the Far East at the end of the war, he sat down on a toilet and had a "constitutional". When he got up and replaced the seat in its upright position (not many women around, obviously) he saw a scorpion which had been lurking under the seat while he did his business. Lucky. Could have been painful. And somewhat terminal. Both to my dad and my chances of existence.

And then there was my dad's bit of "luck" which has always led me to be emotionally ambivalent on the subject of nuclear weapons. Basically, I would probably not exist if it was not for the Atom Bomb. My dad was earmarked as one of the first wave of men who would have had to run up the beach of umpteen Pacific islands to painstakingly defeat the Japanese had it not been for Enola Gay and her Little Boy. The likely lifespan of said beach-up-running troops was measured in seconds. It's highly unlikely that my father would have lived to fire his first round off after hitting the sand with his boots.

So I am lucky to be alive. Also, it is easy to forget, as I pontificate daily, that two generations of my forbears had to go to war and, in the case of my Uncle Alan, die for our country, while I have luckily avoided the "call-up". So, it is tempting to neglect, as we blithely bandy words around the internet, the fact that our freedom to speak has not come cheaply.

No comments:

Post a Comment