Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Remembering on Remembrance Day

THERE are only 18 days left until Remembrance Sunday when the nation pays its respects to the fallen.

Their names can be found on memorials in the heart of cities or the heart of the countryside. It doesn’t matter which because the message is the same. This person gave their life for their country, their today for our tomorrow, accepting death that freedom might live.

Those sacrifices were sometimes given on such a scale that whole villages were virtually wiped out, entire friends’ groups decimated, with more than one million alone dying during the First World War’s Battle of the Somme. The British Army lost 12,000 in a single hour.

But memories blur – no First World War soldier is still alive – and attitudes change. Those whose ultimate sacrifice is remembered by their name being listed on a memorial now find those tablets a target for scrap metal thieves who place a different value on sacrifice.

The nation condemns, but headstones are smashed on war graves and slogans daubed in remembrance areas while claims are incredibly made that events such as the Holocaust never actually happened.

So what will you do on November 11th at the eleventh hour when the country traditionally falls silent as a mark of respect? Will you remember, will you be so involved with your modern life that you completely forget this time’s significance or, worse, will you deliberately flaunt your refusal to remember the ‘warmongers’?

If you are looking for an example to follow then I suggest the actions of a weary ploughman many years ago are the course of showing respect we should all follow.

It was an unusually hot November day and he could be seen behind his horses, shouting encouragement as they ploughed furrows up and down the field, but as 11 o’clock came close he paused in mid-furrow, removed his cap and bowed his head.

In the middle of nowhere he didn’t know anyone was watching. He did it because he wanted to, because it mattered to him and because it was the right thing to do.

Perhaps no-one will be watching you when 11 o’clock comes round in 2014. Perhaps you feel that showing respect is an outdated tradition.
It is up to you, but I will remember the fallen and millions more will too. Lest we forget.

Council acted in haste, now we pay for their repentance

WHAT goes around comes around and no-one knows that better than Weymouth council.

It is currently considering a scheme which could demolish its North Quay offices and build a series of town houses and apartments to extend the existing historic lower harbour look right up to Boot Hill.

What a good idea, people might say. I wonder why they didn’t do that before?

Well the simple answer is that it was done before, many centuries before, and the council knocked those buildings down to make way for the council offices it now wants to demolish!

There were Tudor houses on the current council offices site, perhaps not in the greatest shape but they were still Tudor and irreplaceable; so the council got rid of them anyway despite heroic efforts to stop them. Some of the rubble still lies reproachfully in the harbour.

Now history beckons again, but this time from the future not the past with an attempt to recreate the historic harbourside look which is such a striking feature of the area from Holy Trinity Church to the lifeboat station.

Certainly the project deserves to succeed because it is such an improvement over what is there at the moment, but it still goes to show the validity of that expression: ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’. 

Just think what an attraction those Tudor homes would be now if they’d been kept and restored.

What will school meals of the future be like?

SOME primary school children are sampling the delights of free school meals in Weymouth.
There is nothing quite like tucking into ‘frog’s spawn’ (tapioca) and ‘drainpipes’ (macaroni), or there wasn’t in my day, but modern school meals have taken a few culinary steps forward.

I was talking about this and recalling old school days with a few people over a coffee when they idly wondered what school meals would be like in 50 years time.

Well, for a start they will be much more efficient and there certainly won’t be any education time lost by children having to queue for lunch or even by having a lunch break which will probably have been scrapped.

A real possibility are giant tanks of protein culture which can be coloured, shaped and given whatever taste and look food producers want, something which will probably be vital by then given world population growth, pollution and agricultural land pressure.

Hopefully future meals will be a bit tastier than that, but half a century is a long time and for all we know cows and fruit trees may be endangered species by then.

So if you don’t like your school meal you should still be grateful. It is a lot better than it was and probably a lot better than it will become.

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