Saturday, 9 November 2013

Oft in the Stilly Night

Having been brought up a Service Brat, been educated at Scotland's only Military Boarding School and having served in the TA and the regular RAF, I've always bought and worn a poppy.  This morning it is in the bucket. I've posted about Remembrance before in I'm Sorry, But this Takes the Fucking Biscuit AB and Trench Foot in Mouth - The First Casualty of the WW1 Commemorations?

If Cameron's proposed WW1 Jingoistic Jamboree took the biscuit AB, then this image has to take the whole Airborne Stew.*

The accompanying tweet from the RBL official account is even worse.  I can think of nothing that is further from the spirit of remembrance than dressing up small children (probably from some dreadful drama school or modelling agency) in Future Soldier t-shirts with poppies that look as if they've come off the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Are we remembering the War to End All Wars (Et Seq.) or are we engaged in a recruitment drive?

In the days when we had politicians who had served and the Service charities were actually run by ex-Servicemen, the British Establishment managed to tread the fine line between Remembrance and Jingoism every November.  Even that annual very definition of the height of irony, the men and women of St Dunstan's giving an eyes left at the Cenotaph, which never fails to have me welling up, was brought off with a certain, dignified aplomb.  

Now that we have politicians who are PR airheads, whose only experience of war comes from Hollywood films and Commando comics, and many of the charities are run by a grossly overpaid similar class of professional PR 'fundraisers', no-one actually knows where the line between Remembrance and Jingoism even lies any more.

The Royal British Legion has well and truly crossed the line to a place I can no longer go with it. I'm not alone in that thought.  I'll content myself with a donation to Erskine and pray they don't fall victim to the same air-headed jingoism.

I'll leave you with a tune I learned on the pipes as a kid. It was many years later I learned it was the tune to a song by Thomas Moore (1779 - 1852), who was hailed as the Irish Robert Burns in his day. He set his song to "an old Scotch air" and, for obvious reasons if you listen to the lyrics, the song became hugely popular in the years after the First World War. The celebrity-obsessed PR tossers now running the RBL would do well to listen.

* During officer training in the Army, my oppo was a Para. They have a quaint tradition of cooking up the entire contents of a 24Hr ration pack in one meal, called an Airborne Stew. I had to fight to stop him putting the Rolos in as well.

You can donate to Erskine here if you wish to.