‘Colourful Heritage’ seems very wrong here. Reds for blood and browns for endless mud? What are the right colours when the blood and mud mix as they did in small lakes then or sand and blood that often mixes today due to the serial aggression of our rulers?
For WWI the appropriate colours are the colours of spilled guts, blood and mud altogether? Brown Bombay and lighter Liverpool skins covered in it would all be the same colour, I’d guess. What’s the colour of despair, the colours for hatred of the men in the opposite trenches, Germans and Brits largely forgotten hatreds for each other?
The peoples of the sub- continent fought for a cruel Empire whose policies would soon lead to mutual massacres whose consequences we still have to live with.
We should never forgive and never forget the criminals who led humanity into such carnage and whose heirs seem ready to do so again.
Thought for the day, all the way from the trenches of WWI, or the WWI psychiatric facility in Edinburgh where Wilfrid Owen was sent during that war, to be patched up and sent back to hell at the front, many miles behind which sat and dined incompetent donkey-generals who threatened execution of men who either fled or became deranged by the horror. Oh, the horror!
I wandered round the grounds of that building, now the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University immediately after watching Regeneration, a very important 1997 film based on Pat Barker’s trilogy of the same name that is largely set in the Craiglockhart building
. (I worked there some time later. I wonder if the small collection of exhibits still commemorates the poets Owen and Sassoon, and if it still includes the short film loop of men going over the top into the churned up mud to their deaths.)
By complete chance it’s now 11.11am on the 10th day of the eleventh month. A good way to commemorate all those who died and killed each other for brutal Empires 100 years ago would be to go where Owen was incarcerated and repaired for war 100 years ago and read his poetry.
None better than this one…
DULCE ET DECORUM EST
by Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
Also worth listening to some angry music