The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

Do not despair

For Johnny-head-in-air;

He sleeps as sound

As Johnny underground.

Fetch out no shroud

For Johnny-in-the-cloud;

And keep your tears

For him in after years.

Better by far

For Johnny-the-bright-star,

To keep your head,

And see his children fed.”

For Johnny, written by John Pudney on the back of an envelope as the bombs fell on London in 1941.

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The Remembrance Garden in Princes Street Gardens, right in the shadow of the Scott Monument; in the background were some anti-war protesters, although I should say they were quiet and not at all disrespectful; in fact I saw some talking to some old veterans. I don’t think they had anything against the soldiers or those paying respects to the fallen, just against the concept of war, and its hard to disagree with that.

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remembrance 1

Some of the markers in the Remembrance Garden are plain, many have names or regiments or ships or squadrons marked on them. This one touched me the most – it simply read “to dad”. I have no idea if the dad in question fell in one of the recent conflicts or half a century ago; I doubt it matters, the pain and loss and grief will still hurt as much.
remembrance 2

This one was marked to ‘Uncle Alex’ on HMS Hood; the Hood was a famous, huge Royal Navy battlecruiser. During a duel with the German pocket battleship Bismarck she was completely destroyed; its thought a lucky hit penetrated the weaker upper deck armour and set off a magazine. She exploded and sank almost instantly taking hundreds and hundreds of men with her to the bottom of the ocean; only three sailors from this enormous ship survived. Some say one of her turrets fired a last salvo as she sank. The comedic actor and former Doctor Who Jon Pertwee also served on the Hood and had transferred off her just shortly before the battle to train as a chief petty officer, or he may never have lived to become a famous entertainer.
remembrance - for all in Afghanistan

Not just historical battles remembered here but also the here and now as someone marks a cross for the men and women serving in Afghanistan right now.

The sentence for reading is death

Well, it is in bloody Afghanistan at any rate. Journalism student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has been sentenced to death for reading. His crime? He downloaded a text which – gasp of horror – said that Muslim fundamentalists (those whacky, zany guys, what will they think of next!) who beat people around the head with their own fucked up interpretation of the holy Koran and use it to legitimate their severe repression and control of women were completely wrong and were acting contrary to the teachings of the Prophet. Gee, I can see where they might get a little annoyed at a document saying they might be wrong – after all these are the same shagwits who respond to a simple cartoon by killing people and demanding some beheadings. They aren’t just misrepresenting the teachings of their own religion, they are just fucking stupid, violent fools clearly terrified of women and carrying AK47s as a substitute for their very small willies.Take their guns off them and lock them in a room for a week With Anne Widdecombe, that’ll teach the buggers.

Oh but it gets better – this death sentence was pronounced by a religious court in Afghanistan (and surely that is contrary to the central Islamic tenant of learning for them to stop people reading??). Now it is bad enough that any country is stupid enough to still consider it civilised to allow religious leaders to hold people to trial (no, don’t give me excuses about respecting other cultures, this is just bloody wrong and utterly fucking stupid, its something moronic from the medieval period and they need to learn this. I respect other cultures as long as they aren’t bloody stupid). But then the case was referred to the Afghan secular government. The nice ones we put in power and are holding in power with the blood of our troops (the same troops their president recently said were failing, the same troops that are all that is keeping his arse from being filled full of Taliban bullets because his own troops are incompetent twats) – and they upheld the sentence. Yes, that’s right, the person we put in power to replace those muderous fundamentalist fuckwits, the Taliban, said yes, kill this student for daring to read something we don’t like.

Er, remind me again just why the hell we have our troops being put through the dusty meatgrinder in this godforsaken cesspit of a country? The Independent has an online petition up to give to the Foreign Office to demand they take some action – please consider signing it. (link via Yvonne)

Look, I’d had a lovely supper and all I said to my wife was that bit of halibut was good enough for Jehovah… I don’t think it ought to be blasphemy just saying ‘Jehovah’.” Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Iraq a disaster? Yup, sez Blair…

Tony Blair agreed with Sir David Frost’s remark that the endless violence in Iraq since the ‘liberation’ had “so far been pretty much of a disaster”. Downing Street spin doctors and other worthless people have already rushed forward to say that the meaning was ‘taken out of context’ (can’t they ever think on a better excuse for these slips?) and that this wasn’t exactly what the Prime Minister meant; in fact what he meant to say was the situation was a fucking disaster…

Elsewhere in his troubled government ministers at the MOD have admitted they have been taken by surprise by the level of combat British troops have had to face in southern Afghanistan (while other NATO countries bravely stay well put in the North). Allegations that poor planning has contributed to the large number of casualties have been levelled at the MOD. Some military analysts said the ministers were totally unprepared for serious combat because of a simple error: they confused Hellmand province with Hellman’s, a region internationally famous for the production of rich, creamy mayonnaise. Generals and ministers have denied this, but critics point out it would explain why the regiments of the Queen’s Own Royal Condiments were initially deployed.