On July 1st a hundred years ago at 7.20am the first whistles were blown down the trenches at the Somme. Men and boys emerged to a hail of flying lead as the barrage had not wiped out the German defences as their incompetent leaders had promised. Relentlessly for 141 days they died and suffered in their hundreds of thousands. On the anniversary I wandered down my garden and I saw that the cherry tree I had gazed upon for thirty years had fallen. The symbolism was to much to bear. It triggered an emotional memory as I had often acted ‘going over the top’ in Sebastian Faulks Birdsong many times.
We should be grateful that political misjudgement a hundred years later has not yet lead to such a harsh outcome. In wars we demonise the enemy to justify our actions and now we have done the same to fight for freedom from european tyranny. Confirmation bias is rife. Many countries have copied British systems of bureaucracy so we are the perpetrators of stagnation. It is the primal mindset of the greedy and disgruntled who have shaped our children futures.
My son and I went to Marseille to see the English play the Russians – my first and probably last football tournament. For all the expenditure most of my fellow fans missed much of the footy as they were generally pickled. Some of the Russians however were more intent of emulating their belligerent leader taking back territory they had previously dominated. However much we harp on about inventing the beautiful game we played like ugly ducklings abandoned by their mother who had gone sightseeing. Like Iceland we may go bust but at least they organise their football better.
I’m very like Jeremy Corbyn. I like my allotment but leadership will always get in the way of a good crop of French beans. Due to the freedom of movement of slugs its a daily battle to prevent my endeavours to come to nothing. I have a mandate but I think I should have seen the bigger picture as the cupboard is nearly bare. I can’t even sell my runner beans in the single market any more.
What can bring bundles of joy to this to this current chaos. Well – happy babies and mothers! As patron of the social enterprise Neighbourhood Midwives its chief executive (and my wife) has written a book called The Homebirth Handbook. Widely available apparently.