Memorials And Memories #thoughts

Back in 2014 there was a memorial at the Tower of London, with ceramic poppies, one for each Commonwealth casualty during WW1. It was memorable and very moving, especially when they read out my great uncle Willie Dyson’s name and sounded the last post.

It needs a major tragedy with many hundreds, or thousands impacted for such things really to resonate but the skill comes in making the memorial both breathtaking in its sweep and intrinsically human in its representation of each loss. The planting of a garden of ceramic poppies achieved just that.

Right now we are experiencing a similar National – international but forgive me my parochial thinking – tragedy with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the UK we have had a bad time, with the highest per capita deaths of all the larger nations. Today the death toll stands north of 125000. That is a lot of bereaved families.

I don’t know who thought of it, but a memorial wall has been started. On the Thames, here in London, there is a sunken footpath between the embankment and one of our best teaching hospitals, St Thomas’ where Boris Johnson our PM was treated in intensive care and probably had his life saved, as have many others. Between river and hospital is a Portland stone wall, almost certainly Victorian. Just a wall which happens to face the Houses of Parliament.

That humble simple façade is now being covered in hearts, one for each death. Some are purple, some have names but most are simple red hearts, as anonymous as a poppy yet speaking of a life lost, someone loved and now gone. There’s a sense of scale, a way of better imagining what 120000 deaths look like, but, step closer and this is not a number but a conglomeration of distress, of lives brutalised by something so small that it is bigger than all of us.

I hope it stays. We need to remember so much. The people of course. The way we might learn to be better for the (inevitable) next time. But also it tells us to stay humble. We’ve been humbled by this microbe.

If this wall needs a title I’d suggest

Don’t Fuck With Nature

But maybe someone can think of something more apposite.

And because I’m not one to stay gloomy or grim for too long, here are some pictures of our trip and Dog who kept me company.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. 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.
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58 Responses to Memorials And Memories #thoughts

  1. A moving tribute, Geoff. Thanks for sharing it, and dog. I think it might be hard to have the clergy give speeches about a wall named “Don’t Fuck with Nature.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said Geoff.

    I hadn’t realized that it was that bad there so thanks for catching me up.

    Because I too prefer to not spend more than a respectful time being gloomy, I’ll offer that there some things to be thankful for in this catastrophe.

    You and your family are still with us and you would be sorely missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darlene says:

    What a nice sentiment, and although there are probably nicer names for the wall. I can’t for the life of me think of one more apt. Glad Dog went with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A lovely idea Geoff. I hope it stays too.
    Glad Dog kept you company.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Saying the number is bad enough, but seeing (actually seeing) all those hearts representing someone’s family member is truly heartbreaking. Maybe that should be the name of the wall; Heartbreak.
    Thanks to you and Dog for sharing this, Geoff- stay safe ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Simple, but very moving and impressive! Thank you for documenting, Geoff. Perhaps we have so far misunderstood the Bible verse that man should subjugate the earth. Have a beautiful Easter! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I could hug me some Dog right now…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. trifflepudling says:

    Is the cause effing with nature? I think a formal name for this sort of thing is best – more dignified and respectful to those who’ve gone.
    Hopefully our very good vaccination rate will help reduce UK overall fatality rate when the pandemic is over.
    3 people in the supermarket today with no mask – first time I’ve seen that and hope people aren’t getting complacent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      It’s not a clever title, rather an angry one. The cause (of the level of deaths) isn’t us controlling nature, it’s us thinking we know what nature is going to do, and thus somehow we can get onto top of it. That rather tasteless title was aimed at the mistakes made that led to the quantum of deaths, the early denials that it wouldn’t happen here as it was happening elsewhere and, especially the summer of denials that led to the riptide of our second/third wave. Sure it was made much worse by the variant that was far worse than expected but having been bitten once we were bitten twice by the fluency with which the virus moved the goalposts. And we didn’t need to have been.
      Hence my title. No it isn’t dignified, but I was feeling rather raw after I saw it, so forgive my intemperance. Maybe later it can be dignified. Right now it’s bone deep annoyance thats driven the title.
      This time it seems the message has reached those in charge and extra caution is being exercised alongside this extraordinary vaccine effort (and credit where it’s due, that’s those in charge getting it very right).
      Funnily enough I caught the train and tube today to see this and was surprised how empty it was despite people being allowed to move more but also the levels of compliance with mask wearing and social distancing which were good. Hopefully you were just unlucky with your three unmasked and we will maintain the patience we need to keep the deaths and hospitalisations at a low level.

      Liked by 1 person

      • trifflepudling says:

        I do understand your anger, Geoff, don’t worry! And have thought all along that it’s ironic the chaos this tiny thing has caused.
        I just hope it doesn’t all turn into an undignified slanging match once all this is over. Don’t forget that on the other side there are plenty of people (including one of my dearest friends) who think we should have just let it run its course at the beginning and literally finish off the weakest. I think I’m more appalled by that.
        Anyway, give Dog a cuddle and scratch from me woof woof

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Thank you Gilly. I agree a slanging match helps no one. Learn the lessons of a uniquely horrible time. I have a similar friends who still believe herd immunity is the only way and all we’re doing with the vaccine is extending the pain longer (since we will keep needing boosters ad infinitum). Dog is doing what he does best, happily….

        Like

  9. George says:

    What a brilliant, poignant, sensitive, and thought-provoking memorial. Let’s hope it stays. I would like to see it one day, and you’re absolutely right, we need a way to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. willowdot21 says:

    As soon as I can I am returning to my home town and that wall, with my felttip in hand…
    Lovely post Geoff….thanks to dog too.💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  11. JT Twissel says:

    Dog even looks sad. We are starting to reopen but for many people it’s difficult. Hope things get better over there in the UK.

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      They are, thank heavens. ‘Only’ 10 recorded Covid deaths across England yesterday and 3500 people in hospital, down from 40,000 at the end of January. Vaccines are working.

      Like

  12. Very poignant. I hadn’t heard of this wall, so I’m glad you’ve highlighted it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. KL Caley says:

    This is a beautiful tribute, I really hope they keep it. Whilst I appreciate the number, it does get lost in all the noise but something visual seems to have more impact. I sadly never saw the poppy display in London but we have visited ground zero in New York and it was so moving. Annoyingly there were people taking selfies with the memorial, which felt totally inappropriate, but most were solemn and quietly reflecting which in itself was strange in the bustling busy city. Thank you for sharing this. KL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. KL Caley says:

    Beautiful doggy too. ❤️

    Like

  15. Chel Owens says:

    I think I’d go with:
    Tragic Graffiti
    Wall of Hearts
    Social Instance
    Memory Lane
    Two Meters Together

    Liked by 1 person

  16. An excellent reminder post – the first I have seen that makes me regret no longer being able to get up to London

    Liked by 1 person

  17. trifflepudling says:

    There is a Just Giving page for the pens, I think

    Liked by 1 person

  18. trifflepudling says:

    From a year ago

    Like

  19. Mick Canning says:

    ‘Don’t Fuck With Nature’ is perfect. Not that it will change anything, sadly.

    Seeing all those individual hearts certainly makes sense of those numbers. We’re a visual species, that works well.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jennie says:

    Very moving, Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Lesley says:

    Such a poignant post. It makes me want to cry seeing all those hearts – the reality of seeing them is far greater than hearing statistics. I think your title is right on it – humankind has interfered too much with nature and look where it’s got us.
    On a lighter note – your little doggy is adorable. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Widdershins says:

    I hope it stays too.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Dog looks appropriately somber. Here I would suggest in honor of the over 500,000 deaths, “Believe the Scientists…It isn’t a little flu.”

    Liked by 1 person

  24. noelleg44 says:

    Dog is very patient, apparently. I do love the idea of the hearts – makes real the number of deaths, which is appalling. I just can;t understand why Covid has been politicized.

    Liked by 1 person

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