The headline is sarcastic because relying on violence to settle a dispute has never worked.
It’s not lovely.
This year at 11.00 on 11th Nov 1918 many of us remembered the 100 years since the end of the 1914-18 Great War, named “the war to end all wars”
I remember many times standing alongside big brother Malcolm as he recited Laurence Binyon’s great poem.
“…they shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
But as we all know, hostilities have been endemic ever since.
As well as the loss of 20 million lives in that war, and another 20 million seriously injured, there were probably 400 million families with a close relative killed or badly injured.
And on top of this, an even greater number died throughout the world in 1918 to a particularly virulent strain of Spanish flu.
Back in 1914, the start of WW1 there had been for many something of a festive spirit about enlisting
But by Christmas many soldiers had begun to ignore the warmongering rhetoric of our political leaders and called a temporary truce to exchange drinks and cigarettes and play football with “the enemy”.
Ironically, the next time the English football team was to meet Germany was in the 1966 World Cup Final. England won that match only with the assistance of a Russian linesman who didn’t see the offside law the same way as millions watching the match on TV did.
In the years leading up to World War One, England’s most talented playwright Oscar Wilde defined in “Lady Windermere’s Fan” a cynic as someone who knew the price of everything but the value of nothing.
In the 1980’s this quote was correctly used to describe the harshness of Mrs Thatcher,
But 70 years earlier leaders from every country in WW1 gambled with lives, like players do with chips in a poker game.
And men were sent to a war that many didn’t come back from.
I’m delighted that our daughters Carolyn, Claire, and Rachel, and grandchildren Verity and Harri all visited the Somme this year.
It’s a trail that we all should take before we die, to reflect on the puzzle of man’s inhumanity to man.
I would normally begin my annual review with a roundup of the lives of our children and grandchildren. In the past this has been good news.
But this year I reflect on the futility of violence and the sadness of the many victims in WW1 who didn’t know what was going to hit them next.
And on the innocence of the aggressor, who didn’t understand why he did what he did.
Last year I wrote how I’d fallen in love with Emma, my younger son Edward’s beau, and mother to my first grandson George.
I love Emma still, but she is now joined by beautiful Jessica, the beau of Jonathan.
At the moment Jessica, a lawyer specialising in Italian/English affairs, lives in Rome, but I hope she will soon be in Inglese, with Jonathan.
Edward continues to run his stylish bar www.ninthwardlondon.com near St Paul’s, as well as being daddy to George and partner to Emma.
In la belle France, Lynne’s oldest Carolyn and hubby Robbie are now in their 6th year of running www.elcaminodenajac.com in Najac, in the Pyrenees.
I recommend you to visit Najac and stay with Carolyn and Robbie.
Great people living in an exotic location.
Rachel, Brian and children Verity and Harri remain in Accrington.
We love them to be near us.
Beautiful Verity is now in the first term of our local secondary school, Hollins, and after being a top-drawer pupil at primary school it’s no surprise to learn that she’s now a top-drawer pupil at Hollins.
Harri follows her there in Sept 2019.
Thanks to daddy Brian they are both gifted footballers too.
Lovely Claire is as beautiful as she has ever been and continues as Head of Sabden RC Junior School and lives in Chorley with Dennis the Menace.
After so many men died in the Great War I decided to concentrate this year on four great women we lost in 2018, as well as the greatest brain of the century who died earlier this year, a nominal man.
The four women:
Fenella Fielding, Wendy Matthews, Kathleen Ashburner, and Iride Mesini.
Fenella trained at North London Collegiate, Camden Town.
As a boy I loved her unmistakably husky voice.
She died following a stroke in September 1918, aged 90.
Wendy died not much earlier and will be sorely missed by husband Craig and children Kieran and Kurtis after suffering complications to breast cancer.
Kathleen, our next door neighbour, an unbelievably giving woman, founded the Autumn Club, to give those in their autumnal years some peace in thir lives.
The fourth in my quartet was my darling Iride, a loving woman who was the mother to my first wife, and a wonderful woman I knew for more than 50 years.
I spoke to and prayed for this goddess in the final week of her time here on planet earth last May.
I was fortunate to speak at Iride’s commemoration service earlier this year.
These four women are people it is good to emulate.
I write of their value to the world, stealing from the Divine Bette Middler’s many of the words from her version of the Wind Beneath Her Wings, for the Divine women Fanella, Iride, Kathleen and Wendy.
It must have been cold in the shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let others shine.
You always walked a step behind.
They were the ones with the glory.
And you were the one who had the strength
A beautiful face, and a beautiful smile to hide the pain.
But did you ever know you were their hero?
You were everything they wanted to be.
They could fly higher than an eagle
Because you were the wind beneath their wings
It may have gone unnoticed
But I have it right here in my heart
I want you to know the truth
They were nothing without you
You were their inspiration
You were the wind beneath their wings
I am now a student of genealogy, and the study has unearthed a few clues to features of our lives.
Sometimes the clue is a red herring, as the latter may have been.
There have been several sad parts of my research.
One was to learn that my maternal grandfather died in Huddersfield in the 1940’s after serving in the army since 1913 and divorcing my blind grandmother.
More immediately was the fact that I had an Uncle hidden away from me because he was illegitimate!
If only I had been introduced to Uncle John William Senior I would have known other cousins.
One was called Pete Kitchin.
I’ll make it a mission of mine to unearth him.
But how ridiculous it was that just because Grandma Lydia Armstrong had a son out of wedlock with Grandad Ralph he couldn’t wear the Armstrong tie.
It’s not good.
All three of my grandchildren are born out of wedlock, but it matters not a jot.
There will come a time in the not too distant future when the majority of children will be “illegitimate”.
The only thing that matters of course is that they are loved.