Listen To This And You Will Not Forget

Poppies at the Tower of London…the Queen bowing before the Cenotaph…the standards lowered…the silence…
Remembrance…official remembrance.

Now, while it is still available, please turn to the BBC radio rediscovery of The Long Long Trail on radio 4…a collection of the songs of the Tommies made by that archivist extraordinaire Charles Chiltern…and see what made those ordinary men great.

Their resilience, their kindness, their bawdiness, their cynical recognition of the realities….you could kill the man, but never the spirit. Ordinary men….not sculptured heroes on a monument.
Men who lived, loved, laughed…and were killed.

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43 thoughts on “Listen To This And You Will Not Forget”

  1. What timing. Our “Veterans’ Day” is commemorated this Monday, the day after the Marine Corps Birthday. By the way, the tenor on that last song (the hymn parody) is extraordinary. Do you know who that is?

  2. What Steve said… and it’s already too late. Humanity is a dying resource amongst the rich and powerful who are always hungry for more wealth and more power.

  3. It’s a fantastically powerful series Helen. I’ve done most of my listening en route to jobs and think it should be mandatory listening for my kids’ generation (incidentally, a generation who know far far more about the ‘Great War’ than my own generation were ever taught).
    PS I’ve shifted to WordPress – taking my blogger back catalogue with me.
    Yvonne x

    1. I’ll look for you on WP, then….
      This chap did a lot of stuff to bring ordinary people’s music to light…i remember his series on the American Civil War…the Blue and the Grey…
      All quiet along the Potomac tonight
      No sound save the rush of the river…

      Not an officer shot, only one of the men
      Gasping out his last death rattle…

  4. The songs sung by the men were very interesting, though not in front of the kiddies. War does dehumanise everyone involved, but not totally.
    The problem with such films is they satarise the officers but ignore the politicians who were responsible. The officers were in my view better than the media view of them, and that came from Lloyd George passing the buck of course.

    1. I hadn’t realised until listening to this programme that Joan Littlewood, whi put on the ‘show’ at her theatre in the east end of London did not think it would be a success and only put her name to it when it proved a hit…and I hadn’t known that she was a ‘girlfriend’ of the less homosexual Kray twin, either…

      Politicians always get off lightly…more’s the pity.

  5. I walked with Max today in the Virginia Veterans’ Cemetery. Flags everywhere, a big ceremony tomorrow to honor the dead, quite starkly beautiful. Later a powerful piece on the poppies which you first introduced to me months ago. I can’t quite bear to see it now, frankly, although I force myself to look and think about it. We owe it to them. Again, I think of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est and “the old LIe.” Thank you for this post, Helen.

    1. I caught the piece on the radio by accident and to me it represents the terrible waste of that generation sent to their deaths – their resilience, their adaptability, their solidarity…the world of the twenties and thirties would have been a very different place had they lived.

  6. Only when we abandon the party system. Scotland – those having voted for the status quo having realised that they had been deceived – has started a Scot2Scot campaign to find and support future parliamentary election candidates who have only alleigance to Scotland – whatever their other views might be..
    Here in Costa Rica the dark horse won the Presidential election because people were sick of corruption embodied in the old two party system…he’s having a hard time…but the people did speak!

  7. The futility of war. So many lives lost and for what? It just makes those in power more powerful. Maybe my opinion is too simplistic, but I do wish more of an effort was made to stop wars rather than start them.

  8. We have just returned from the service in our little village. There must have been a full turn out of at least 150 people. It was very emotional. Love these videos and oddly enough they played, usually our connection is too slow! I have to agree though such a waste of life, we have learnt nothing and we are still wasting young lives.
    Hope you are both well Diane

  9. Seemed strange here in Spain too, Helen. No mention and I’m still trying to find out what Spain was doing during this period….no one seems to know! I made it the topic for our English classes this week and found myself getting quite emotional as I started quoting Wilfred Owen, whose poetry moved me so much as an A level student. Ax

  10. And still the carnage continues in so many countries around the world, in the name of religion or politics or territoriality or nationalism or economic plunder. Human beings are so often incapable of settling their differences without resort to brutal violence. And it’s ordinary men and women who’re the victims, not the generals and government ministers who declare war.

    1. And the ordinary men and women can’t do much to prevent it either…and behind all the ‘reasons; it tends to come down to money.

      It could be time zones….I’m not sure…

  11. I wasn’t sure about the pretty poppies, not much of the mud of Flanders fields and exploding trenches in them, but I have to admit, they are/were spectacular.

    I like your collection of songs; when the chips are down, heroes emerge.

    1. They live again in these and other of their songs..in the Wipers Times ‘Am I as offensive as I ought to be…’…..Bruce Bairnsfather’s Old Bill ‘If you knows of a better ‘ole, go to it’….

      And blast any clergyperson who bans ‘O Valiant Hearts’ at commemoration services…

  12. The last one was excellent, as Maxwell said, beautiful tenor. It would be nice if it wasn’t so sad 😟. I am increasingly thinking our generation (whatever that is) is the narrow age group that seems to care about what is happening.

    And who was that toerag knocking Owen? I’ll have them.

    1. I’m beginning to think that there should be another line on the voting papers…the list of candidates and then a line for ‘whatever’…

      The Owen basher was either in The Guardian or The Independent….

        1. I don’t know what has happened to The Guardian…it seems to feature only the fatuous these days.
          The Independent on line drives me mad…but they do still go in for investigative journalism just often enough for me to keep having a look.

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