I looked in the garden today as the whole country fell silent for the two minute tribute to those lost in wars and conflicts. In the distance there was a pigeon, which appeared to be standing up right in respect as not a word was (or a squeak) spoken. Not even the sound of a child in the distance was heard and the birds gathered around a kind of toadstool out there, eating the bits of scraps we sometimes leave there. Yesterday about twenty gulls must have flown in from the coast with the biggest actually on top of the toadstool; you can just about see it, above, near the base of one of the trees. Sorry the photo isn't that clear.
When the two minutes of silence were up, a shot was fired and all the birds flew away.
From a couple of places they flew in flocks and there was a lot of tiny bird activity too.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; on the day it started, in July,1916, 20,000 men were killed.
Stop and think about that number.
A few seconds before the first shot was fired, at the Somme, there must have been a lot of bird activity but as soon as it was fired and heard by those birds the Somme must have fallen as silent as our garden did today at 11.02 am and the dawn chorus wasn't heard again till November; four months and over one million killed and wounded. One of those was my granddad, who survived, and no matter how we remember them, and old soldiers remember the battle, it was all for nothing.
Or maybe it brought Europe together eventually, after another war twenty years later, when the Common Market was formed and instead of fighting we all started working and living in each other's countries where we lived and played together in harmony – but you don't believe that do you?
The preachers of hate wanted us out.
When I was listening to the silence, and not John Cage's (4'33”), I thought of the presidential election; the presidential election of 1960 when John Kennedy won and moved his beautiful family in to the White House (Casablanca?) in January 1961; where it would continue the curse that befell them and continued right up to the time when we lived there when John Jr was killed.
But I remember Kennedy's inauguration and the tears in my mother's eyes as Kennedy was an Irish man – Roman Catholic and handsome. I even remember some of his campaigning as he had a profile on his publicity photos on the posters showing the parting in his hair; or the part, as they call it in America.
I knew nothing of his opponent, Nixon, or the arrangement made by Kennedy's crook of a father with Sam Giancana of the Mafia to 'buy Chicago' for his son I just knew that Camelot was moving in to the White House.
But I also remember the tears of pain in my mother's eyes as they laid him to rest after Oswald shot him – and that gave rise to a whole lot of paranoiac conspiracy theories which has made millions for the promoters of such bullshit.
But now, instead of the Camelot of the Kennedys and the beauty and intellegence of the Obamas we have the waxworks of the Trumps – Gawd 'elp us!!