Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If You Tolerate This, Then Your Stray Thoughts Will Be Next

1. It's been a while since I did one of my round-up posts like this, I know, and I think it may well be because I've mastered the art of taking what should be a one-line post and making it into a whole paragraph. Perhaps a career in newspaper writing awaits? (Premonition: the King Tut exhibition in London beginning this week, plus the eye make-up Amy Winehouse wears, will surely lead some idiot to claim that 'the Egyptian look has never been hotter!', or some such page-filling piffle).

2. Speaking of whom, a joke I heard the other day:
Q: What's Amy Winehouse's favourite tube station?
A: High Barnet.

3. I find myself, as ever, watching very little TV for fun, and the vast majority of it is imported (Heroes, Flight of the Conchords, Californication, and 30 Rock, to name the majority of my preferred shows). Is there anything on any of the Freeview channels I'm missing out on? Do let me know…

4. Oh, for god's sake.

5. Nanowrimo progress is very slow indeed, but I'm not giving up yet. Will certainly beat last year's effort, but that's hardly a push, I know…

6. Told you (in this post earlier today) that I'd make up for lost time. Should be six posts in one day by the time I'm done. Prolific, I know (though you know there could be a connection between this brag and the comment in point 5, above. Fortunately, I'm too stupid to be able to make any kind of correlation).

7. Want to go and see Steven Poliakoff talking about writing and stuff? Well, it's next Monday in London, and free - click here for more info. I'm going, do let me know if you will be too…

8. Now, I don't want to sound like an old fuddy-duddy (well, the use of the phrase 'fuddy-duddy' is always a headstart, but you know what I mean), but isn't the whole 'lolcatz' meme a bit like 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us'? By which I mean, it's kind of incomprehensible and inaccessible to the general reader, not actually as wildly funny as some people seem to think, and may well out of favour by the time I've posted this...

9. Due to the techy hassles over the past few days, I was unable to post my usual Remembrance Day thoughts, which appears to have become a semi-tradition for me. So, in the spirit of 'better late than never', I'd like to post the following, which is a transcript of an interview which forms the opening and close of Roger Waters's album 'Amused to Death'. The dialogue's taken from an interview with Alfred 'Alf' Razzell, who was a member of the Eighth Batallion of the Royal Fusiliers during WWI.

He was born in 1897, so he would have been in his teens during the events he describes - Alf talks in measured, grandfatherly tones of his time in the WWI trenches, and the last line (where he figures out the number of years) never fails to hit me like a kick to the stomach... For, I like to think, the best possible reasons.

Alf Razzell:
"Two things that have haunted me most are the days when I had to collect the paybooks; and when I left Bill Hubbard in no-man's-land.

I was picked up and taken into [the German] trench. And I'd no sooner taken two or three steps down the trench when I heard a call, 'Ooh, hello Razz, I'm glad to see you. This is my second night here,' and he said 'I'm feeling bad,' and it was Bill Hubbard, one of the men we'd trained in England, one of the original battalion.

I had a look at his wound, rolled him over; I could see it was probably a fatal wound. You could imagine what pain he was in, he was dripping with sweat; and after I'd gone about three shellholes, traversed that, had it been...had there been a path or a road I could have done better.

He pummelled me, 'Put me down, put me down, I'd rather die, I'd rather die, put me down.' I was hoping he would faint. He said 'I can't go any further, let me die.' I said 'If I leave you here Bill you won't be found, let's have another go.' He said 'All right then.' And the same thing happened; he couldn't stand it any more, and I had to leave him there, in no-man's-land."

Years later, I saw Bill Hubbard's name on the memorial to the missing at Arras. And I... When I saw his name, I was absolutely transfixed. It was as though he was now a human being instead of some sort of nightmarish memory that I'd had of leaving him all those years ago.

And I felt relieved. And ever since then I've felt... happy about it, because always before, whenever I thought of him, I was searching myself; "Was there something else that I could have done? And that always sort of worried me. But having seen him, and his name in the register; As you know in the memorials there's a little safe, and there's a register in there with every.. every name... And seeing his name and his name on the memorial.. It sort of lightened.. lightened my heart, if you like."

Interviewer:
"When was it that you saw his name on the memorial?"

Alf Razzell:
"Ah, when I was eighty-seven...Ah, that would be the year, ninety f…eighty-four, nineteen eighty-four."

2 comments:

Dillon said...

thank you for posting this. i had always been affected by the depth and sincerity of this clip on the roger waters album, but previously had not been able to understand the entirety or know the context.

it is poetic in its depth, and i think perfectly apt for the occasion for which you posted.

thank you again.

dillon
texas, usa

John Soanes said...

You're welcome - I'd always found it very moving, and thought it was worth typing up to share with a wider audience!
J