Looking up, looking down #justthinking

2016-05-26 10.05.07-1

I walk the jolly streets of South London a lot, taking Dog, or him me, on many a ramble. We end up in various parks, woods and other green spaces. Once such, Brockwell Park is a favourite. As I walked in the gates and bent to unclip his lead, I noticed the plaque above. I’ve walked over it, past it, by it countless times and never noticed it but this time, I looked and saw.

The symbol is the Victoria Cross. Often – most often – the highest military award for gallantry is awarded posthumously. The dull bronze of the medal is cast from a cannon used in the Crimea I believe.

As we walked – I was with a friend and his utterly potty Hungarian Vizsla – we talked about who this chap might be and when the plaque had been placed there. ย In fact the stone has only been in situ for a year – the 100th anniversary of his noble action which, while leaving him blind in one eye and crippled didn’t kill him. Indeed having recuperated 2nd Lieutenant Geary returned to action with the Royal Flying corps, survived WW1, emigrated to Canada, was a Major in the Canadian army in WW2 and lived to 1976. A bit about him here. He was born but a short way away from the park however, hence the stone.

I can’t but see something like this and I’m overtaken by two strong emotions. First, I think about members of my family who fought in the Great war. My grandfather Percy also in the Royal Flying Corps.

Convalescing - Larking around

Also injured and forced to convalesce after a plane crash into the cliffs at Dover.

Or my great uncles Edward and Willie Dyson

William (seated) and Edward Dyson

Who acted as ambulance drivers and stretcher bearers. Willie died of a brain hemorrhage the day after he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.

William Dyson 5

And looking at this picture of Willie, taken sometime in 1916, it’s his youth that hits hardest. He was just starting out and then killed in what history would indicate was senseless slaughter.

And there’s the second emotion. I have a son of 26 and a daughter of 23. If we were to fall into a conflict, an existential battle, these would be the young faces in the equivalent pictures. All that is left of a life as yet promising much and unfulfilled.

And on the news I see pictures of Aleppo and Raqqa and Fallujah, pictures of crated buildings, dust stained faces and death and think about those lives torn asunder.

And I carry on walking and try and look up. Up is easier on the eye. Up is uncluttered by man’s ambition, by monuments of any kind whether to heroes, who little knew why they were being brave or to the kind of national aggrandisement that leads to hubristic wars, up is the way to escapism. Up is what hope looks like, a blank canvas of possibilities no one has written on.

Thing is I won’t stop looking down too – occasionally you spot a little gem when you do

2016-06-07 10.05.08

A piece of chewing gum art protesting at the closure of our post office – this mushroom is on the same theme

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because down is real and one must stay real if we are ever to break the cycles of distrust and despair that will forever hold us back as a species.

But a little bit of up, every now and again is good for the constitution.

And I’ll end with cheese…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in memories, WW1, Youth and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Looking up, looking down #justthinking

  1. Allie P. says:

    In this case I am glad you looked down too, if only for a moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Geoff Le Pard pondering on things that we might miss right under our own noses.. or feet.. My grandfather too was wounded and won the military medal.. was told his injuries too severe to return to the front so my grandparents decided to have my mother. Of course fate stepped in and when she was just over a year old he was sent back and was killed just 9 days before peace was declared on 11th of November.. aged 31. I wonder when – ‘The war to end all wars’ will actually become a reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Up is good. But down…will make you think. And sometimes, save you from a fall. Beautiful family photos. Thanks for sharing them, and your peace-promoting thoughts. ๐Ÿ’˜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You never know what you’ll come upon when you look down. Marvelous post, Geoff. Something to chew on. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ritu says:

    Another great walk you took us on Geoffles. …
    Now… I just want to know what reaction your beard got!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautifully said, Geoff. I like the words of Charlotte Brontรซ, “I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.” Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this: “And I carry on walking and try and look up. Up is easier on the eye. Up is uncluttered by manโ€™s ambition…” I always try to look up while walking. Though I’m glad you looked down, too. Grounding in many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. willowdot21 says:

    Another beautiful post sobering and up lifting in one

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Helen Jones says:

    Look down, look up, but always, always, end with cheese ๐Ÿ™‚

    On a serious note, this is a lovely and poignant post, Geoff, especially with the photos of the young men. I also watch the news and see war in other places – there is no difference, wherever it is happening. A waste of life for nothing much at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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