The Point of Remembering

Soldiers during the Battle of the Somme
Soldiers during the Battle of the Somme

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month 1918. A call went out to lay down arms and ceasefire because the war was over and a peace had been agreed upon. It marked the end of the conflict of the second world war and is a day that is continued to be marked as a day of remembrance for all of those who lost their lives during the first world war.

Sunday just gone was Remembrance Sunday, a pointed reminder that remembering Armistice day did not work.

The other day I saw a poem that I had never seen before. We had studied Siegfried Sassoon in school, but had never come across this one in our studies. Interestingly enough – it could have been because of the message that it portrayed.

I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:

Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the following prayer.
‘Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial
Means; their discredited ideas revive;
Breed new belief that War is purgatorial
Proof of the pride and power of being alive;
Men’s biologic urge to readjust
The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts, increase;
Lift up their hearts in large destructive lust;
And crown their heads with blind vindictive Peace.’
The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh.

This poem reflects all that has been obscured when it comes to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day. The day was to be stapled onto our historical banner as a grim and deathly reminder of what war does to nations. The systematic deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, driven by the politics of another and the loss and pain and grief that their deaths left behind.

I like to remember the soldiers who have lost their lives in wars since the original armistice in 1918. I think about who they have left behind and I thank them for their service. But I also grieve them, I pity them for having to fight a war that is the result of a lesson not learned. There is no more obvious a reminder than the cenotaph in London, yet the politicians still lay their wreaths knowing of the pain they have caused so many families. Remembrance day should not just be about remembering British lives lost in conflict – but all lives. All of the innocent children and men and women caught as collateral damage in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. All of the Iraqi forces who are still being slaughtered by ISIS. Everyone, we should remember everyone.

It sickens me to know that certain political groups like to use Remembrance Day as a day to justify war. To say “our ancestors fought for our freedom and so should we!” They are wrong. Our ancestors fought for our freedom so that we shouldn’t have to. They gave their lives so that we could see the depravity of war and could turn away, find alternate solutions. Become peaceful.

But still the cogs of war turn and we learn nothing.

Recommend a Scary Book: Ghost Song by Sarah Rayne

I follow Chuck Wendig’s blog and one of his recent posts has been to recommend a scary book that you have read. Now, I only got into reading horror recently and have probably only read 4/5 ‘horror’ books in my entire life time. But I’ll give it a shot.


Ghost Song by Sarah Rayne
Ghost Song by Sarah Rayne

My recommendation is for the book Ghost Song by Sarah RayneI read this a couple of years ago, albeit on a second attempt (the first time I wasn’t in the right frame of mind). I loved this story at it actually had me on edge throughout. I have read action books and thrillers where I can feel that a scene is intense and scary, but not really had any sort of physical response to what is going on, however, with Ghost Song – I definitely had a good reaction. There would be times when I would be 20/30 pages into a reading session, only to realise that I’d been sat with my back and shoulder tensed to near implosion as  flipped through the pages on after the other. It is, as they call it, a page tuner.

I won’t get into any spoilers or any of that palaver, but you will find a brief from Amazon about what the book entails below. What I will say however, if that is does really leave you with an eerie feeling once you finish the last page and makes you doubt walking through your house in the dark!

Check it out.

Ghost Song

The old Tarleton music hall on London’s Bankside is the subject of a mysterious restraint order that has kept it closed for over ninety years. When Robert Fallon is asked to survey the building, he finds clues indicating that its long twilight sleep may contain a sinister secret. Joining forces with researcher Hilary Bryant, Robert discovers the legend of the Tarleton’s ‘ghost’ – a mysterious figure who was first glimpsed during the time of the charismatic performer Toby Chance, once the darling of Edwardian audiences until he vanished suddenly and inexplicably in the early 1900s. After almost a century, the Tarleton’s dark silence is about to end. But there are those who find its re-opening a threatening prospect and, as Robert and Hilary delve into the macabre history of one of London’s oldest music halls, they both become menaced by the secrets of the past.

Ten More Names: Commentary on the Oregon Shooting from a UK perspective

Ten more names to add to the long list of those shot within their schools on American soil.

Ten.


It has happened that recently, that the Police in Oregon haven’t confirmed who the shooter was or who the people killed or injured are. The insanity of the situation astounds me. I don’t want to talk about the man whose face is being plastered on the news as the potential killer. I want to talk about how. How has this happened?

This morning I saw this tweet:

And my attention was peaked. I clicked through the link and over the next 5-10 minutes scrolled through the hundreds of shooting that have taken place in schools across the US since the late 19th Century. I would just like to add, if you did click on the link, that this is just the schools. Not shootings in the street, or domestic shootings – just schools.

I was shocked, heartbroken and enraged that these shooting keep happening. I feel like the US is sitting on a sinking ship, watching the water come in and shouting “plugging the hole won’t stop it sinking!” instead they would rather throw people to their deaths and hope the load will get light enough that their ship will float.

That’s not how it works.

Gun control in the US is a hot topic – every single person has their own view. You have the big money powers like the NRA, you have gun control activists and then you have the average citizens. Everyone has something to say, everyone has the right to make their case but the urgency of the situation does not seem apparent to the US establishment. Whilst they sit and talk, debate and argue, more children and teachers are going to schools to learn and are never returning home.

What should happen then?

A good question. As someone from the UK it is hard to understand the political ideals of our brethren across the pond but here is my stand point. Gun control is essential. The constitution was written when the country was less populated, when men had to defend their land and their goods against all sorts. But, it was also a time when the most advanced personal weaponry could only fire a shot at a time. There was no automatic weapons available in the way they are now-a-days. An automatic weapon – in my eyes, is not for defines, it’s to cause damage and to maim and kill. Why do you need an assault rifle to defend your home? It’s ridiculous. It’s grotesque. 

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Some argue that if the everyday person can not arm themselves, then they will be over run by armed criminals in swathes. That’s not true. If you choke the supple of weapons into the country it not only makes them harder to get, but it will also make them more expensive. I am in no way saying that banning guns will stop people being shot – no way. But it will stop unnecessary massacres in your children’s classroom by someone who has bought an assault rifle on the high street. I think gun laws should be tighter – the NRA did a poll in 2013 asking their members their views on what should happen with gun control and it read as follows.

National Rifle Association[edit]

A member poll conducted for the NRA between January 13 and 14, 2013 found:[103]

    • 90.7% of members favor “Reforming our mental health laws to help keep firearms out of the hands of people with mental illness.” (A majority of 86.4% believe that strengthening laws this way would be more effective at preventing mass murders than banning semi-automatic rifles.)
  • 92.2% of NRA members oppose gun confiscation via mandatory buy-back laws.
  • 92.6% oppose a law requiring gun owners to register with the federal government.
  • 92.0% oppose a federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.
  • 82.3% of members are in favor of a program that would place armed security professionals in every school.
  • 72.5% agreed that President Obama’s ultimate goal is the confiscation of many firearms that are currently legal.

Source: Wikipedia

This made for painful reading.

Strengthening mental health laws to stop massacres with semi-automatic rifles, instead of banning the rifles. Why not do both? Why not ban semi-automatic rifles and then have stricter mental health laws for hand guns?

I find it hard to believe.

I also find it hard to understand why they wouldn’t want to register their fire arms? Let’s put it this way, is a cop is called to an address where there is a domestic fight going on – wouldn’t he rather know that there could be a weapon on the premises before he walks in and is another name to add to the list? The second to last point I find hard to comprehend as well. Instead of taking the weapon from the hand of the man who is going to your kids school, to kill your children and their teacher, they would rather place an armed official at the school door to relay the assault. Your kids are going to go to school feeling that every day could be their last. If things are desperate that your children need armed guards just to have an education, then don’t you think that something has gone wrong? They will live with a permanent fear. If that has not already been instilled by the countries lack of action.   i don’t wish to dally on the political ins and outs of gun control in the US. I am a UK citizen and feel I am less educated on the subject that most, but what I can comment on is the media coverage of here in the UK. My friends whatsapped the news this morning that there had been a shooting like, no offence to them, it was every day news. Because that is what it feels like now. Many times I have heard a Brit say “Oh, another shooting” and pass it by. This is a serious issue people! We may seem out of the loop being so far away, but we are part of a worldwide voice that can happen a change.

Right now the BBC homepage looks like this.

BBC homepage 2015-10-02 at 11.40.27
BBC homepage 2015-10-02 at 11.40.27

The fact that a Tory MP has been nominated to be London Mayor is seemingly a bigger headline than the murder of nine people in Oregon. I for one, am an advocate of not publicising the name or motives of the shooters involved, as – especially with case – I believe a lot of it is to do with the attention, with the fame of being a school shooter. But, that doesn’t make the 9 people’s lives any less important. It should be reported. And, it is definitely more important than what the Tories are doing in their local politics. I feel like the UK can be a great ally for those fighting for gun control in the US, and I think it is potential that we should grab with both hands and do something with. In the end, this will no longer by a commentary on a crime in the US, but on the inaction of human beings to stop the murder of their own. Below are some links that you can use to find out more about gun control in the US. The first one especially offers a non-biased purely fact archive of information.

Gun Control – Just Facts (offers bare facts about gun control)

Gun Control Pro – Con (explores the pros and cons of gun control in the US)

Coalition to stop gun violence (Coalition seeking to end gun violence)

Moms Demand Action (Mothers against gun violence in america)

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ReMoved (2013)

When trawling through the categories of Vimeo the other day, I came across a diamond in the rough. Don’t get me wrong – this sin’t something from an unknown filmmaker that I have discovered and want to show to the world – it’s a multi award winning short film that you may have seen before. However, I loved this when I first saw it. The photography is brilliant – the acting is fantastic from the young girl and the unfolding story envelops your senses and draws you in.

I have a turn of phrase for these films – Blackhole Films. Films where you begin to watch and next thing you know it’s 20 minutes later, the credits are rolling and everyone in your office is staring at you because you are crying uncontrollably.

This is one of those films.

Enjoy.

ReMoved from HESCHLE on Vimeo.

Be sure to check out their profile on Vimeo  for the follow up to this film – just as moving and brilliantly filmed.