Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The thing about World War One is that it was very well lit and the music was absolutely lovely, swelling and whirling and crescendoing as the boys died on the sweeping canvass of the field. Oh, the boys, the boys, so brave and some as young as thirteen. I’ll don my poppy and salute the boys and their efforts. Each one proudly choking on hardening mustard gas mucus. Coughing, convulsing and falling. And all the while so well lit, so beautifully lit. It’s no wonder they called it The Great War, it was bloody marvellous.

Maybe in the future our current wars will be recalled in a similar fashion, through the prisms of aesthetically pleasing nostalgia simulations. Instead of blurry footage of exploding buildings on remote monitors, we’ll see our brave drones swoop down and liberate post-production graded, high-definition, panascopic landscapes. We’ll have stories of an army boy’s love for his drone and the sacrifices he makes to retrieve it when it is shot down by the enemy. ‘Oh old Droney, how I loved ya Droney.’

We’ll have majestically choreographed cinematic recreations of despots being deposed. I can see it now, Gaddafi (played by Alan Rickman in a black wig) being stabbed in the arse as the sun rises over a new Libya and a rousing soundtrack denotes liberation. It’ll be a bit like Laurence of Arabia only in 3D and with a touch of Hostel to keep the kids interested. HRH or one of her family will attend the premier and Tom Hanks will exec produce and everyone will be moved to tears, for a bit.

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And now a poem. The authorship of these verses is much disputed. Some say they were penned by Tony Blair, others say George W. Bush but I think this poem shows the hallmarks of one of our latest and greatest war authors, Hillary Clinton (author of We Came, We saw, He Died):

The Moral Argument for Gardening

Such beautiful seeds
descend upon
plough into
the trembling earth
Yielding searing flowers aflame

Scorching, cleansing, beautiful gardening
Trowels of truth
Ploughs of patriotism
Shiny new harbingers of
a garden of resolve

From a just winter
a righteous summer shall rise
With the sweet scent of freedom
and fresh tender bounty
Ripe for the picking

And when we’ve stuffed our faces
and all is left bare
the seeds will rain down once more
An honourable cycle
Oh beautiful war

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That’s really the great thing about war in general, it inspires such fantastic art. I mean, imagine if Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen weren’t traumatised in the dugouts of Flanders. They’d be a long forgotten pair of old queens. Their names wouldn’t ‘liveth forever’, I’ll tell you that. War makes a man of you and sometimes an artist. Here’s to the next one.

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