A D-Day remembrance for all combatants

Last week our radio, TV and podcasts were full of the D-Day 75th anniversary events.  From a British perspective, how many covered the German remembrance?  Almost none, that’s how many.  There was coverage on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme, but that’s all that I could find.

We celebrate our heroes and all our veterans.  Most of them were conscript soldiers, just as the enemy were.  Both sides suffered; men on both sides were killed and suffered horrific injuries, both physical and mental.  I find it heartening that men who could not talk to their own generation or their immediate family about the traumatic events can now open up to their grandchildren and to the media, and can find friendships with the men on the other side who endured those days.  As they come to the evening of their lives, I believe that the importance of remembrance of the sacrifice of young men and women is high on their priorities.

And let us not forget in our national commemorations all the other nations involved in D-Day and the Normandy campaign.  For example, there were Poles fighting on both sides in Normandy.  My own late father-in-law was an unwilling Polish conscript in the Wehrmacht for most of the War, and ended up serving with the Polish army in exile in Great Britain.  I only found out most of his story at his funeral.

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As an aside It’s odd to think that I have to thank two of the most evil men in history for my wife.  Her father was a Pole escaping Hitler.  Her mother was a Latvian escaping Stalin.  They were both welcomed, or at least accepted, into Britain.

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The Pedant revolts again

A local estate is holding an open day in the near future.

I don’t know if the printer of the publicity leaflet ran out of punctuation marks but they have left me confused.  Apparently the attractions on the day are:

“CREAM TEAS, PIMMS & ICE-CREAM GUIDED MEDITATION IN NATURE GAMES & COMPETITION FOR CHILDREN.”

I have no idea what “nature games” are, or how they involve meditation.  Is the meditation during the games to be guided only by ice-cream or by both Pimms and ice-cream?  Further clarification is required.

It might be worth the compulsory “donation” to a local charity as an entry fee simply to discover what one must do in the competition to win a child.

Parliamentary Etiquette

One thing that I do enjoy when listening to British parliamentary debates is the formalised speech.  Sometimes the best insults may be concealed behind the eloquence of the most fluent in this form of English.

It is archaic, but it has its own charm.  For example, in the House of Commons, one never refers to the House of Lords (the regulatory, or “upper” chamber of parliament), but to “Another Place”.

The Speaker of the House will call members to speak by name, but in all other circumstances, and by other members they are referred to as: e.g.”The Minister” or “The (Honourable) Member for Little Podlington and Sparrowbridge”, or if they happen to be on the same side, one can get away with: “My Honourable Friend”.

Apart from anything else, it’s a great test of memory when there are 650 people to remember together with their official titles if appropriate and the constituency they represent.

A classic example of the pedantry is a frequent declamation from the Speaker:
“Order! The Honourable Gentleman must not shout from a sedentary position.”, which can be interpreted as “Oy, you – shut your mouth and wait your turn.”

A wonderful example today of a minor rebuke by Mr. Speaker Bercow:
“We welcome the honourable member for X to the chamber, and we hope that she has sufficiently recovered her breath to ask her scheduled question”.
Or in other words: “You’re late, and you missed your turn.”

And you thought Chaucer and Shakespeare were difficult to understand?


By the way, I think that Mr. Speaker Bercow is looking very fatigued after the last two days of chairing parliamentary debates about “Brexit” that remind me of the old computer game “Lemmings”.   Instead of building bridges, our MPs have started digging holes in different directions and neither side now has enough bridge builders to get anyone out of the hole.


 

Reviewing films from a new perspective.

During the last few days I have been rewatching some of my old DVDs with the commentaries frequently provided.

Yesterday I watched “Black Hawk Down”, first as the movie, then with the director/producer commentary and finally with the commentary of three guys who were actually involved in the operation in 1993.

It was very interesting to hear the views of those three people.  They focussed mainly on the accuracy of the film, with many references to the innacuracies from their own viewpoint.  But my main take from their commmentary was that they considered this a victory for brave American troops.  While not disputing the bravery of the individuals, my own viewpoint from watching the film and reading the book it is based on is that this was a typical American operational failure, where the organisers believed that overwhelming superiority of firepower would always win easily, and then discovering that the enemy has other ideas to the contrary.

While applauding the ideal that “nobody gets left behind”, this was probably the main reason for the domino effect that led to the ignominious result of this “snatch” raid.  Let’s not forget that despite the massively disproportionate casualty rate, the original objective of capturing the enemy leader failed within the first 15 minutes.  The rest of the operation was devoted purely to casualty recovery, and led to far too many deaths on both sides.

I also watched “Tora Tora Tora” with the director’s viewpoint.  This was mainly focussed on the difficulties of making the film.  I love the story about rehearsing a US navy sailor in firing a MG against  fabricated “Japanese zeros” and then saying a single line.  In the rehearsal the director shouted “Boom” when the explosion was to detonate.  In the live shot the sailor fired the gun “for real”, got soaked by the underwater detonation, then stared at the director.  When asked afterwards why he did not say his line, he replied: “You didn’t say ‘Boom'”

Today I am rewatching from a new viewpoint “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” while doing the ironing.