Tag Archives: World War

The past is a mysterious place and I don’t want to go there.

MedalsPhil: This isn’t the post I meant to write today, you’ll have to wait for next week for that one. While we have written a book together, we don’t normally pre-plan our blog posts. This means that on Tuesdays, I have a pleasant surprise when I read whatever Candice has written. This week was particularly thought-provoking.

Our families have very different experiences of wartime. My maternal great-grandfather, John Bridges, fought in World War 1. I’m proud to have the miniature versions of his medals, these being the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal respectively. From these  I can tell that he served from the very start of the war. Other than this I know little of his story as like most men from his generation they didn’t talk about their experience as the memories were so terrible they prefered not to re-live them.

In WW2, my paternal grandfather was an engineer working on high precision implements and so spared from the fighting. On the other side, my grandfather escaped from Poland to fly Spitfires for the RAF along with many of his countrymen. Amusingly, a few years ago, the British National Party ran an anti-immigration campaign using a photo of a Spitfire as the main image. They didn’t realise it was from a Polish squadron…

My father was born during the war but after evacuation had ceased. He later went on to be a volunteer in the Royal Observer Corps watching out for Russian aircraft and latterly atomic bombs. After this, he volunteered with the Air Training Corps. National Service missed him by a few years though.

So, with such a military background, surely I aspired to join the forces as a youth?

Not a bit of it. Quite the opposite in fact. Maybe it was a visit to the vast military graveyards in France when I was 12 or simply an overactive imagination, I have always viewed war as a case of “there but for the grace of God go I”. Born in 70 years earlier than I’d probably been shipped off to the killing fields of Ypres or the Somme. 45 years or so and it could have been Normandy.

Putting myself in the position of anyone involved in these conflicts is incredibly painful. Sitting in a cold and muddy trench, sharing my limited food with rats and knowing that at some time in the future I’d be forced to climb out and run towards a well dug-in enemy is pretty much my idea of hell. Add in the constant artillery bombardment and it’s a scene unimaginably awful. When the whistle goes and it’s time to go “over the top”, the chances are you’ll endure a long and painful death, not the quick lights out portrayed by Hollywood.

For this reason, I’ve never been able to read the diaries and reminiscences of those who did have to do this. They are me from a different age.

It’s also the reason I’m first in the queue to buy a poppy every year.

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Has everyone got the same idea?

World War Z poster.jpg

Candice: I went to the cinema the other week to see the new Brad Pitt movie, World War Z.  Now I’m not really a Brad fan, I’m more into George Clooney myself, and when Brad has long hair – forget it!  But my cinema buddy suggested a trip, so I thought I’d give it ago. However, Zombies in 3D was not part of my Friday night viewing plan!

Anyway, I’m not writing a review of the film, just the plot.  It seems there are common threads running around the psyche of writers at the moment, both novelists and screen writers: the idea of over population.  I can see why, we have been talking about global warming for years, we no longer have a real nuclear threat or cold war, so what do we make the bad guy these days?  Well, actually its us, the human race, as we are killing the world we live on by filling it with too many people.

Inferno, the Dan Brown book, was all about a mad man who thought that letting a virus into the world that would sterilise us all would help with this issue.  A few would be exempt and they would be able to continue the world’s population.

World War Z also has a virus but the suggestion is mother nature is generating it to get rid of the majority of us and start again.

It’s not just in 2013, if you go back to 2006 there was a rather good film called ‘Children of Men’ about women being infertile and the first pregnant woman being protected. And of course, WWZ is based on a 2006 book.

I watched episodes of two different TV programs last week – ‘Body of Proof‘ and ‘Bones‘ where in both cases, a virus had infected a member of the team and if the team didn’t identify it they would die.

I suppose we all get our ideas from what is going on in the news.  I when I say we, us lowly unpublished writers as well as those getting paid big bucks.  So these common ideas are bound to come out.  But is this why different ideas struggle to break through?  There are two White House disaster movies out this year, plus lots of sequels coming out.  If you go to the book shop or even Amazon, it’s all about ‘If you like this, you might also like.’  Recommendations are great, but we would never have had the Beatles if someone hadn’t picked up on their style and said I’ll go with that.

So people, please be a bit more receptive to other ideas and not just the run of the mill.  Else, we will be just churning out the same stuff over and over again!

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