Lots of Lovely War

Extract from Diary of a Masher. 1902?

” I had been to see Trooping the Colour at the Queen’s Birthday Parade and, as everyone said at a very jolly Army lunch afterwards, it seemed to sum up so much of what was good about this country. Here were soldiers just seven weeks back from Afghanistan, performing manoeuvres with the precision of rhythmic gymnasts, boots sparkling like magnesium, busbies rippling like dominoes as they turned their heads this way and that…

UK politics review of the year 2008 The Ashes: England v Australia live, fifth Test day one Wimbledon 2009: top 50 champions If you took it all together – the happy crowds, the Red Arrows streaking overhead, the beaming Queen, the balmy weather, the London parks generally surging and sprouting with the joy of mid-June – you came away with a sense that God, or someone very like Him, was in His heaven and that all was more or less tickety-boo.”

Or was it Boris Johnson in Today’s Telegraph drifting off into a Strand Magazine reverie about the World Cup? Either that or HG Wells did invent the time machine. What other explanation is there for gloop like this today?
Apart from the obvious, well-snuffled political opportunities of any major sporting event, this cosy, computer-game vision Britain and the world, where the same certainties are endlessly replayed to a packed, devoted audience, like an eternal Ken Dodd show, reinforces every privilegious delusion of the grand tory vision.
Whether or not the tory party trusts a latter-day Bertie Wooster to mould its image will confirm whether it too has totally lost its marbles.
The other effect of this passage is, obviously, to glorify war. The casual, decorative ‘boots sparkling like magnesium, busbies rippling like dominoes’ – the leisurely association of war and sport – the mundane presence of war planes over London, as normal and patriotic as Red Routemaster buses.. all designed to perpetuate the myth of Gallant Little Britain. Always ready to see of the bosche, or whichever Johnny Foreigner cuts up rough – what? In other words, the state of permanent war we are in now, and were in at the mental time of Johnson’s prose, during the height of empire.
How could anyone reading Johnson’s Chronicles ever be fully aware of the reality of the war we are in? One in which war itself is the objective, not victory.
We are now in Orwell’s 1984 world of a few almost identical mega-powers, scraping tectonic plates and generating wars like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and tsunami along their edges. This is essential to the Earth as a living planet, but disastrous for those crushed and drowned in the process.
But an ecconomic system created by humans is not a geological inevitability. It is something we should change for the better. Only those who benefit from the suffering would complain.

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