Friday, May 17, 2013


It was the poetry that came out of the First World War that first got me interested in that catastrophe. It spoke of a profound and absurd waste of life. That war was the first in which modern weaponry and in which mass destruction were implemented. To me, as I'm sure to others, it's the saddest of wars.
More recently, I've got interested in the Second World War. Perhaps because it was the war my parents' generation endured, or perhaps because its mechanization reduced its participants to data, I'd not felt it to be as aching as the First.
But my feeling has changed. Any war is bad news. In any war there's ridiculous suffering. There can be no such thing as a necessary war. To think that any of us has to have war as their life experience is to me horrendous...war does nothing but destroy humanity; its purpose opposes what we're really meant to be doing.
Reading John Verney's account ( Going to the Wars ) - he with such a light, humane, candid touch - I know now that being caught up in that war would have been ineffably painful. This post honours all who suffered in it. My excuse for posting it here is that, to me, gardening, as an act of constructiveness and peace, of continuity and well-being, challenges and resists futility.
For anyone interested, John Verney's obituary in The Independent is excellent. He is described there as a "painter, writer and illustrator," a man devoted to his wife and children, and to his friends.
Sir John Verney ( 30/09/1913 - 02/02/1993 ) wrote, in this, "one of the best memoirs of the Second World War."


  1. My feelings about war have changed over the years. When I was young I just resented any mention of war because it not only made me cry but I felt war was being glorified by all the "celebrations". Now, with the advantage of age, and maybe some mellowing, it still makes me cry but I am able to think seriously about what it has meant to generation after generation of Australians. These days I embrace the sacrifice that was made for us and the memorials to our Armed Forces. I am appalled that we are still fighting wars in what should be an enlightened age but I strongly support our fighting forces. Thank you, Faisal, for a lovely post.

  2. You're always generous, Carol.
    Yes, an enlightened age it's meant to be, but we're no more enlightened than barbarians.
    We're lucky to live in a country that has not declared war but has only felt a necessity to stand up to it. Thank God, and I mean that.
    To recall all the misery that man pits against man is for me too, reason to cry. Those who want war are no better than apes. We have a long way to go before we can call ourselves human.

  3. My Mutter was a very young nurse in Germany during the war and my Grandfather was sent to the Russian front when the battle was lost as were most able bodied young men. War is over. (If you want it)John Lennon.

  4. War drags everyone into a vortex. It tries to take away all that's real and good. Pity they don't seem to stop.

  5. dear faisal, I can't stand the rhetoric of war, it makes me angry, I think the real heroes are those who were conscientous objectors.

  6. I was told the story tonight of someone who simply ran away from the war and created a new identity in New Zealand. I cannot blame him. In fact, I reckon he should be relieved of any guilt.