100 years ago today.
I post here just as I have before, the inscription on the Bomber Command Memorial on Beachy Head:
Lead me from death to life,
From falsehood to truth;
Lead me from despair to hope,
From fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love,
From war to peace
Let peace fill our heart,
Our world, our universe.
Since White Feathers came out, I have posted an armistice day post every year.
Over the years, the ceremonies to commemorate the dead of the wretched First World War and its successors have become marked and tainted by nativism and rage. The poppy which graces the cover of my novel was originally the symbol of doomed Adonis. Now it has been turned into a fashion statement. Make no mistake: those who boast it most stridently are the spiritual descendants of those who forced men to fight in 1914.
I sought to tell a story. I sought to cry injustice. A man who refused to salute such authority and paid a deep price. A woman who swore to fight forever to restore his name. A love that was severed by a self-satisfied, violent state order. A story that is told, and told, and told.
I now live near the place where the bodies from the Lusitania were brought in to harbour. The sinking of that ship eventually brought the United States into World War I. The graves are in an ancient plot left undisturbed behind a German supermarket chain. They carry the simple gravestones of the Commonwealth War Graves. A tacit recognition that these men and women, although civilians, died as a result of war.
It breaks my heart to see that in recent months, a malicious backlash from the privileged has imposed a deep discourtesy on the res publicae, across the Irish Sea, across the Atlantic, throughout the world. Those who have sacrificed nothing, who are devoid of virtue or humanity, are elevated and revered. Those who strive against all odds have their striving belittled by people who have been given everything. Greed allows pillaging and soiling of our beautiful Earth without a whit of remorse.
Today I am going to include Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I’ve often wondered how appropriate it is for a writer to share opinions on issues unrelated to their work. Particularly ones of a political nature. Specifically I wonder if I share too readily and express my opinion too often. Recent crises, particularly Brexit but not limited to that sequence of events, have brought this thought to my mind.
TL-DR: It veered towards greatness, then lost its nerve (taking troubling historical liberties en route.)
ETA. Worth reading Athena Andreadis’s take on the film. She has a lot more skin in this game, and her account is a passionate (and convincing) indictment.
I’ve been off twitter a few weeks. It was having a not-great effect on my mental health. It’s not people I chat to, you are all wonderful and I miss you! But there are certain things that will always trigger me when discussed. That isn’t all my fault – much of it, I angrily maintain, is Ireland’s – and as Jefferson said, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. But I go through my life unmedicated – that is not a boast, by the way, and I do NOT deserve any medals for it – and honestly, sometimes it shows, particularly in winter.
I don’t want anti-depressants, useful as they doubtless are. What I really want is light, bright natural light, more and more of it. I want to personally nick the sun and put it in my office and then bring it home with me on a dog’s lead made out of some substance that wouldn’t shrivel and melt at the thousands of degrees Celsius my new travelling companion would possess.
Can you tell I’m writing sci-fi right now? 🙂 I’m almost finished a first draft of a story I should have been working a long time ago. It’s looking quite robust, I’m pleased to say.
Another thing I discovered about Twitter – it can mask writing issues. You can castigate yourself for tweeting too much, not realising that once you’ve removed twitter from the equation, you still aren’t writing anything. Because you’re stuck and are losing motivation and it’s VERY VERY DARK ALL THE TIME.
Here’s a piece of light in a newspaper column – a review of White Feathers by Sile McArdle in the Sunday Independent. It’s a cracker 🙂
And here’s a brief audio interview of me by the lovely Brenda Drumm of Artyfacts, Kildare FM.
And my workshop for Carousel Creates is on Saturday, I think it’s nearly full now, yes? I’m talking about the short story and we’ll be having writing fun in beautiful surrounding up t’mountains – kinda good that I’m writing a short story too, to refresh my brain 🙂
And I’ll be back very soon, probably in a week or so, with more news to announce. But for now, am consolidating. And looking for more light!
Thanks for everyone who left comments or kind tweets after my post yesterday about mental health. I’ve been privately told it helped other people that I spoke about it, and that’s really the most important thing of all. Sanity is not an absolute, it’s a spectrum, and most of us who are not utterly phlegmatic dolts or vacuous hosts of greed are somewhere right or left of its centre. Now, let’s get stuck into the film!
Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain’s biography of her early life and experiences during the First World War, is the Bible for fiction writers dealing with the same period. Few novelists can escape its influence, or fail to acknowledge it. It is thorough, detailed and in its own sombre and precise way, shattering. So as you can imagine I was excited to hear a film was coming out based on the book, starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington and a host of other beautiful men whose names I can’t recall. Especially as – full disclosure – I’m related to the person who designed the costumes. All of which are rather lovely and I’d wear them myself if I had the figure! Continue reading “Testament of Youth – Film Review”