Thursday, October 11, 2012

For whom the bell tolls.

A few years ago I was chatting with a builder at my house; it turned out he had been a paratrooper in the army and had once seen some poor kid deck out after his chute hadn't opened. He painted a fairly vivid picture of someone dying in agony with every bone in his body broken (they pretty quickly pumped him full of morphine, apparently, and he slipped away peacefully) but the the thing that stuck in my mind - and refused to leave - was the description of this kid screaming for his mummy. Not his mother - his mummy. I read around it a bit later and this seems to be a really common thing when young men die violent deaths. It's not surprising, I suppose, that when death arrives much too soon and much too painfully you might want to return to the womb.
So, in trying to get it out of my system, here is a whirlwind tour of the history of warfare, as seen through the eyes of young warriors staring into the face of death and calling for their mummies.
As for myself, I intend to go out in a comfortable armchair with a good book in my lap, a contented smile and the warm late-afternoon sun on my face (having never experienced any of the horrors of war).