Thursday, 11 November 2010
I watched as local residents placed poppies around the six-inch railings surrounding our stone cross, each with a loved one's name carefully inscribed. I couldn't help but notice that all the writing was spidery - a sign of the age of those doing the remembering - or a sign of emotion as the name was written - or both.
It's an immensely moving moment watching men in their 80s and 90s saluting fallen comrades who never came home to continue with their lives as they have done.
I found myself wondering about them then. Whenever I go to workshops or writers' circles, many writers tell me how they came to writing later on in life. Yet, those we are remembering today and on Sunday, never had that chance of a 'later on in life' moment. How many great writers have we lost in all wars, past and present, that we don't know about because they weren't given the opportunity?
At the end of the two minutes, people began drifting away and I continued on my walk. About twenty minutes later, on my way back, I saw an elderly gentleman walking towards me. I recognised him as one of those who'd saluted fallen comrades at the war memorial. As he approached, I could see he wanted to chat, so I spoke first.
"Wasn't it lovely how the sun came out whilst we were at the war memorial?"
"The sun always shines on the righteous! Mind you, I've stood there in all weathers," he said, proudly.
"It is a bit rough today."
"We need it rough, son," he continued. "Reminds us we're the ones who are alive."
And on that note, he turned and walked on.
The weather may be rough outside. Your life may not make it easy for you to be a writer. But we are alive and because of those who gave up their lives for us, we can be a writer and write what we like.
So, if you enjoy writing, try to make time to do some today. Call it a small token thank you, to those who were never given the opportunity.