Friday, November 18, 2016

Thought for the Day

Serious thought today. As delivered this morning at BBC Radio Bristol.

I know I often wander around the lighter side of the Thought for the Day room. But not today. Not today.

I was very moved by the Shrouds of the Somme installation on College Green when I visited it last weekend. It ends today.

Rob Heard's creation represents the 19,240 men who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The first day.

I find it stops me in my tracks when I make a comparison. I think of the town where I live, Nailsea. The population is a little less than that. But imagining every single person in Nailsea falling victim to a sudden death. A whole town wiped off the map. That's the equivalent of what happened.

Everyone who died was somebody's friend, father, son, husband...

Both my grandfathers were the right age to be one of those people. They served elsewhere and survived. So I'm here.

Each hand-stitched shroud on College Green offers dignity to someone who died suddenly, violently, indiscriminately and probably without a chance to fight back. It is somehow restorative.

In one of his shorter works the poet Steve Turner wrote:

History repeats itself.
Has to.
No-one listens. 

I will be taking a funeral a little later this morning. And I will remind everyone of another, older poem a soldier wrote about his God:

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

So why not find a response. Say a prayer. Throw a coin in a Children in Need bucket. Keep your own moment of silence.

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