Rememberance Sunday & The War On The Motorist
Why do we remember still the horrors of the First World War? Is it because this was the first photographed war ? The poetry it inspired? The lost generation? The shear enormously overwhelming scale of the senseless slaughter?
In the first 24 hours of the Battle of the Somme, 19,240 died on the British side alone. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, they’d have stretched to a line over six miles long.
And yet today we have a transport minister who speaks of a "war on the motorist " that he’s going to end. How he cheapens the memory of the fallen with such talk.
In the last ten years for which we have data, 32,173 people have died on our roads . In 2007 there were 2946 deaths. These figures break down to 49% in cars, 22% were pedestrians, 20% motorcyclists, 5% cyclists, 4% in other vehicles including buses, coaches & other goods vehicles.
So many pointless deaths, making this so-called war on the motorist seem pretty one-sided.
DULCE ET DECORUM EST - WILFRED OWEN
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Not that I’d ever accuse a politician of telling lies.