We are rolling into autumn, the heat of summer is now but a memory, and the nights are getting longer. September has been a tiring month on this green and pleasant isle, and now it draws to an end.
This is my Grandfather, Ben Berwick. I was named after him. In this photo, he is holding the Kitchener Cup, which he won for his dedication to the Poppy Appeal. It has been 25 years since he passed beyond this life and rose to the stars.
Ok, I can feel myself getting emotional now.
My Grandad was a wonderful soul. He was a devoted family man, and though he did not find it easy to express his emotions, he loved my Nan, very, very much. He always had time for his family. I have many memories of listening him talk about his experiences in World War II, though looking back, I don’t doubt that he omitted the gory details. I loved listening to his talk of his adventures, and I miss him, so, so much. His passing was the first time in my memory that I lost a close loved one, and I cannot believe it’s been 25 years without him. I love you Grandad, and I always will.
Grief is a peculiar thing. It’s said to take place over stages, but it’s not really something that can be placed into categories and dealt with sequentially, at least, not to me. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, and her funeral, brought out many thousands of people to pay their respects, including queuing for hours to see her lying in state. The news coverage of her death and the subsequent ceremonies has been wall-to-wall, with some on Twitter coining the idea that the BBC should be renamed ‘MournHub’. It’s been a subject that’s been impossible to escape from, and it feels like everyone has been expected to put the Queen’s death to the forefront of their every process.
I’ve written a couple of posts about the country’s reaction to all this, and how it’s brought the elitism of British society into sharp focus. I won’t rehash those posts in this Muse, so instead you’ll find them here, and here.
I was in two minds about whether to watch the funeral. This was to be a lengthy series of ceremonies, sermons, and processions. Did I want to devote my time to it? In the end, I did devote my time, out of respect, and whilst my misgivings remain over the cost and extravagance, especially during a time of austerity, it must be said that we are, as a nation, extremely good at organising pageantry and processions. There were procedures on display steeped in history and tradition, going back centuries.
To try and illustrate this, here is a picture from Queen Victoria’s State Funeral procession, back in 1901…
Here is a photo from Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral Procession, on the 19th of September…
The gun carriage that conveyed both queens for much of their final journeys, is the same carriage, which dates back 123 years. The convention of having people, instead of horses, haul the carriage, began with Queen Victoria, as there were concerns of horses being startled. Incidentally, Queen Victoria was Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great Grandmother, and distantly related to Queen Elizabeth I (something like 10th cousins). Thus, there is a lengthy series of links between monarchs, and this creates a sense of history and majesty, much of which was on show for the funeral.
I will admit, I got emotional on a few occasions. I’ve made my concerns about elitism and classism known, but to millions, the Queen was a symbol of duty and dignity, and before all of that, she was a mother, grandmother, and cherished loved one. Considering my earlier thoughts about my Grandad, I know – and many in the Royal Family know all too well – what it is to lose a loved one.
I’m arriving at a point where I am considering what tattoos six and seven will be. In fact, I know what they will be. The key questions revolve around colour, and which one to place on which arm.
The 10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver is a relatively simple design, and therefore relatively easy to work as a tattoo.
The blue lightsaber is a classic symbol of the Jedi, though a green blade is also an option. I figure both tattoos would end up on my forearms, so it would be a question of which one to go on the left arm, and which one to go on the right.
The Weather Turns
There’s no denying it, the warm weather has given way to autumn’s cooler times. It isn’t cold (not by any means), but my workplace seems to magnify both warmer and cooler temperatures, so on a few occasions now, the heating has gone on. This is a little depressing, for I prefer the summer sun to winter winds, but cooler times are inevitable. We’ll make do, as we always do.
Bravery and Evil
When Russia invaded Ukraine, under the guise of its ‘special military operation’ (which fooled no one of sound mind), back on the 24th of February, they expected a swift and decisive campaign. Now, some seven months later, it is clear that Vladimir Putin and the Russian military greatly underestimated both the will, and the ability, of Ukrainian forces, and the Ukrainian people. Assisted with equipment from western countries, Ukraine has not only put up a stubborn resistance, but in recent weeks, has regained swathes of territory lost in the war’s early phase. As town after town was liberated, it was becoming clear that the Russians were incompetent on a tactical and strategic level, and facing massive logistical problems.
Something else has become clearer. Earlier in the war, it appeared that Russian forces had committed war crimes, and it seems further evidence of war crimes has been uncovered in the newly-liberated towns.
Sometimes I wonder how this war ends. Ukraine needs as much military and humanitarian aid as possible, yet will it be enough? I fear that, sooner or later, a scenario will play out that will force other countries to become directly involved, and that could have dire consequences for all of us. What we must not do, is forget what is happening there. It is all too easy to sweep news aside, especially when new stories break, but the people of Ukraine are fighting for their right to exist, and they need all the help they can get.
Ending on a High
Recently, I learned that tossing your sausage can be a source of entertainment and fun for many. It can even be turned into a competitive event! What? Why are you sniggering? I’m referring to the Sausage Tossing World Championship. It’s not rude or anything…
I shall leave to consider sausage tossing, and Muse again in two weeks!