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QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

 21-06-2007

There are more questions than answers they say. Oh yeah? Well Laurence Inman wants a few of them answered.

One of the more pernicious consequences of Tone’s blatant lies about the Iraq invasion is that it makes us wonder about what really went on in previous wars.

The media is awash at the moment with Falklands commemorations. They have to keep saying it was all worth over a thousand lives. To suggest otherwise is unthinkable.

The idea that Thatcher somehow cynically provoked the whole thing to revive her flagging popularity, knowing that the press would drop everything to whip up a frenzy of rabid jingoism, ignoring the fact that the islanders were already dependent on Argentina for food supplies, hospital services and communications….well, the notion couldn’t be countenanced.

Now that the war against fascism is fading from living memory we can look at it with fresh, unbiased minds, unsullied by the myths which have been allowed to flourish in the sixty-odd years since its end.

It’s the oddest coincidence, but after typing that last sentence I glanced in the Sunday paper and came across a quote of John Cocteau, (which the bloke in the paper didn’t get right incidentally.)

This is the accurate one:

History is a combination of reality and lies.
The reality of History becomes a lie. The
unreality of the myth becomes the truth.

The war was, everyone agrees, justified, and I wouldn’t want to minimise the sacrifices made by millions of soldiers and civilians across the world. But there are questions which are, I think, only now being addressed objectively.

Was it necessary to use the atomic bomb? Is the Churchill myth anything like the truth ? What were America’s real reasons for joining in? What would be happening now, if we had not declared war? Can’t we give full credit to the Russians for what they suffered?

There are other, apparently less serious questions, which I also want answering.

Why were all those saucepans and wrought-iron railings taken away ? For ‘the War effort’ ? No, they were simply stored and then disposed of years later. (Apart from the churchyard railings and rood-screens which were buried by pacifist clergymen, some in this city.)

It was all a ruse to give the impression that something was being done. For the same reason, public parks were dug up and sown with carrot seeds.

The two most ludicrous schemes were also, in some strange way, the most believable. They are a stand-up comedian’s dream.

The first was the order which forbade the ringing of church bells until the war was over.

At first, it was given out that the bells would be used as a nationwide network of alarms, should the Germans invade, rather like the bonfires which were built on every high point before the Spanish Armada.

But surely, people reasoned, we have radio and things these days ? Wouldn’t that be more reliable ? So, and I swear this is true, another story was put out.

One of our spy-chappies in Paris, (so the tale went,) had discovered that the Germans had a device which could, over the sound of aircraft engines, hear the tunes from church bells.

Since every church has a unique peal, in terms of numbers of bells, tuning of the biggest bell etc, this meant that they could accurately identify every church in England.

For instance, if they heard a set of bells ringing Grandsire Triple Majors in F Minor, they knew they were flying directly over St Olaph’s-in the-Mire, near Yelverhampton-on-the-Bog in Sussex, and so were well off course for London.

If the bells were silent, so the reasoning went, they would simply drop their bombs in Charlie Duckett’s field.

The other ingenious scheme was to take away all the sign-posts on every road in the country.

This depended for its success on the rather unlikely possibility that the Wehrmacht, renowned all over Europe for its ruthless efficiency, would mount a massive seaborne invasion of a foreign country and then forget to bring any maps.

Can you imagine it?

'Untergruppenfeurher Schlackenshitzer, we have landed. Give me the map.'

'No need, Ubergruppenkapitan Schitzerclaker, I spent many holidays in England before the war. The countryside is stiff with signposts.'

'Well, where are they?'

'On no! They've all gone! Who would have thought the English would be so underhand? We'll just have to go home.'

It’s not very likely is it? They could have just treated us like adults.

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