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Jun 25

Day 6 – Hemsworth to Dodworth

Walking through West Yorkshire I wondered why the litter was even worse than anywhere else we have been to recently. Why are the footpaths unkempt? When I saw the sign that read: ” West Yorkshire: working for peace” (true, I kid you not), I knew why .

Is this a stupid gesture of council virtue signalling? Or has the CEO gone totally bonkers? As I walked I imagined the letter this pompous ass must have sent round his colleagues:

“Dear Comrade,

My administrative assistants and I have decided that instead of doing boring and mundane things such as looking after the roads and schools and keeping litter collected we are to serve society in the Noble cause of peace keeping. Unlike East Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Central Yorkshire, and what do you expect from the likes of them?!

We consider that the UN and NATO are inadequate on their own and the world needs the West Yorkshire CC to bring peace in our time.

To that end we propose to send a stern letter to Vladimir Putin and that plump  little git with the funny haircut in N Korea saying that if they decide to bomb the UK please remember that West Yorkshire is neutral and working for peace.

If West Yorkshire is attacked I have asked Councillor Vera Bootle – who stands five feet high and weighs eighteen stone – to walk to the county border,  remove her clothes and moon at the oncoming tanks. We are convinced that  that sight will stop them in their tracks.

At the same time we will erect a vast sign in the football stadium  to be read by passing bombers  that says  “We surrender” made from litter culled from nearby roads.  We have decided not to collect this in past months just  in case it was needed for this purpose.

I am also going to visit the 799 twins with our county (club class) to make speeches about peace. I will bring with me all the councillors who agree with me about everything as well as my new administrative assistant.”

What a pretentious ass the CEO has to be. Please get back to the day job.

 

Love and Kisses

Have you noticed how often cheeks are turned for the mandatory kiss – often by people you hardly know? Let’s be frank, at least half of the time I’m sure many of us would choose to remain chaste (if that were an option).

But when the cheekbone is presented, what can you do – for it’s expected now, isn’t it? So instead of extending a hand, we cave in and go “mwah mwah” along with everyone else. But it doesn’t stop there, does it? When did you last end a letter with “love from…”  – and to someone you have no particular affection for or have hardly ever met? If we end our letters with the quite solemn and serious word “love” to people we don’t love, how are we supposed to end letters to people we do love? Perhaps to our loved ones, we should now seal our letters – as they apparently did in the last war – with “SWALK”: “Sealed With A loving Kiss” adorned on the envelope. There were other acronyms that even in these rude times seem unprintable (even worse that BURML – Be undressed and Ready My Love!). But at least the soldiers then had the excuse that they were terminally frustrated.

My point is, perhaps we should reserve the world “love” for people we really do care about deeply.

 

Real Heroes

But there is another serious dumbing down of a word: “hero”. The media continually blurs the distinction between a victim who may have suffered a ghastly mishap or accident, and a real hero. To anyone who thinks about it seriously, a hero is someone who has gone out of his or her way selflessly to try and save someone else’s life – or indeed a community – for a higher purpose. The media on the other hand will add the soubriquet “hero”, for example, to someone who safely lands a stricken plane with passengers (whilst all they were really doing was saving their own life alongside others). Or, they will make a hero out of a soldier who has their leg blown off in a war zone. The truth of the matter is that soldiers sign up voluntarily to take that risk, and becoming a casualty doesn’t make someone a hero (sorry about that). And, yes, the charity title, “Help for Heroes” has always made me cringe. It stems from our peacetime snivelling need, whilst drinking in the pub, to indulge in some recreational grief.

Anyone who served in a perfunctory action as, say, the Afghanistan or Iraq wars, and who was subsequently caught up in a car crash or a court action (for example), will be described in media reports as a “war hero”. Such a precious word should be kept for the real thing – and heroes are as common as hen’s teeth. The Dam Buster, Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC DSO (and bar) was an undoubted hero, as was the great Audie Murphy, the highest decorated US soldier in the Second World War. Then my favourite hero, Sergeant Major Stan Hollis VC, charges in. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Stan three times attacked German positions that were holding up the battalion advance. He charged them alone with a Sten gun and grenades, and he killed or took the defenders prisoners. After the war, his commanding officer said, “Hollis is the only man I met between 1939–45 who felt that winning the war was his personal responsibility.”

It’s only a tiny minority who have the sense of responsibility or a deep-rooted personal anger that stirs them to heroic actions. They are usually serving among the bulk of their colleagues who resent being shown up by what they perceive as dangerous “gong” hunters. The majority of soldiers would much rather be at home, and have no wish to be “brave” or run the risk of being killed or maimed.

Lord Macaulay’s “Horatius” demanded:

“And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?”        

But that’s a minority belief. Those stirred by that sentiment will be the real McCoy.

Though, to be fair, I never did say I was a hero…! Reader, what would you have done?

 

By the Way…

I was told that the rings of Saturn are not astral dust at all, but are actually made up of airline lost luggage forever circling the planet.

 

 

 

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