Armistice Day

“In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high,

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders’ Fields.” – John McCrae, 1915

We wear red poppies as these are the ones that grow in northern France and Belgium, where many of the deadliest battles of the First World War took place. Poppies are both tough and delicate, thus making them a fitting emblem to remember those who died, in the First World War and subsequent conflicts. 

It’s that time of year when ‘poppy fascism’ arises. You’ll hear arguments regarding the symbolism behind poppies, some accusing them of glorifying war, and some simply stating that they are a symbol of remembrance and hope.

To me, wearing a poppy is not the glorification of war. It is not the justification of war. To wear a poppy is to respect those who died in imperialistic conflicts. To wear a poppy is to remember those who have died in vain, not just in the First World War, but the Second World War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. To wear a poppy is to condemn warfare and to promote peace. To wear a poppy is to show that you remember history and never want it to be repeated.

We live in an age of populism; an era of rising prejudice and discrimination. Brexit, the likelihood of a Trump Presidency… society is taking a step backwards. Those who fought did so for us: the future generations. This is why we owe it to the fallen to organise and step up. We need to show those who feel disheartened and/or ignored by the system that populism and hating ‘the other’ is not the way for our society to progress and improve. The poppy is a symbol of this. The poppy reminds us of what was lost, but also what was gained: democracy, liberalism, open government. 

I leave you with this poem by a nice chap on the internet that I believe helps us remember the true meaning behind the poppy:

I am not a badge of honour,

I am not a racist smear,

I am not a fashion statement,

To be worn but once a year,

I am not glorification

Of conflict or of war.

I am not a paper ornament

A token,

I am more.

I am a loving memory,

Of a father or a son,

A permanent reminder

Of each and every one.

I’m paper or enamel

I’m old or shining new,

I’m a way of saying thank you,

To every one of you.I am a simple poppy

A Reminder to you all,

That courage faith and honour,

Will stand where heroes fall.

British Thoughts on an American Election 

A race between a highly qualified, well respected woman and a reality television star with orange skin and a toupee; or, in other words, the 2016 presidential election. 

In Britain, we have become accustomed to American politics being – or perhaps aspiring to be – a theatre of greatly qualified statesmen/women debating high ideals along their special path laid out by the Founding Fathers to stand as the bastion of western democracy. American elections are glossy, they are grand, and they are stage-managed. 

When Obama was on the campaign trail, he promised change and invoked hope in generations of Americans; hope for a fairer society. Now, we are exposed to a seemingly never ending tsunami of tumultuous scandals concerning groping, sexual assault, and emails amidst other topics. And the best part of this is that the Clinton emails are worthless. But, sure. Let’s rebel against Hillary for a few apparently dodgy emails by voting for a racist, destructive mysoginist. Nice one, America. 

This election is not something to laugh about. Memes and dubbed videos are not going to make this calamity any easier to get through. You might doubt that Trump could ever realistically become president. Well, you may have also doubted that we would choose to leave the EU. The populism that was prevalent in the public’s choice to leave the EU was spurred on by nationalist spin, just as populism is likely to have a mass effect on this American election. 

I guess we’ll see on November 8th. 

Review: The Eichmann Show

“When we first arrived here, they did not believe us. They said such things were not possible. So we stopped speaking about it… Now they listen.”

This is the final statement from Mrs Landau, as she reveals the concentration camp tattoo on her arm to Leo Hurwirtz. This is the scene that encapsulates the entire drama of both the film, and the true reality of Holocaust denial that existed until long after the war ended. The Eichmann Show perfectly captures how the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the most prominent architects of the Final Solution, opened the eyes and ears of the rest of the world. 

The film follows Martin Freeman as Milton Fruchtman, an American producer, and Leo Hurwitz (portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia), a director blacklisted by the McCarthyites, as they pursue an international broadcast of Eichmann’s trial which they intend to be a masterful exploration of the nature of evil exacerbated by the power of television. 

Archival footage of the actual trial was combined with the drama, perfectly encapsulating – and demonstrating to the viewer – just what was at stake with this trial, both in real terms and for Hurwitz and Fruchtman. Hurwitz’s obsession with Eichmann’s refusal to admit guilt and inability to acknowledge the evil he had perpetrated certainly aided in illustrating how little power to shock the atrocities committed by the Nazis have lost over time. 

The use of clips from the trial of witnesses recalling the horrors that they had witnessed, combined with an intensely powerful script remind us that without knowing the truth, one cannot prevent such atrocities from recurring once more. 

Best Friends Are Better Than Boyfriends

You meet a lad, you start dating, you get together and suddenly you and Mr Perfect spend every waking moment together. Your friends end up on the back burner as you end up unknowingly sacrificing your friendships for your relationship. Eighteen months later, you haven’t seen any of your friends in weeks, maybe months, when you and Mr Perfect go your separate ways you’re left on your own eating cold pizza, smoking 30 a day and drinking 2 bottles of wine as a ‘wind down’ like something straight out of Bridget Jones. Then comes the dreaded ‘please forgive me for being a terrible friend’ speech. We’ve all been there.

Sure, boyfriends can be great. Who doesn’t love a cuddle, right? But, no matter what, your best friend will always just ‘get’ you in a way that your boyfriend won’t. I’ve learned it the hard way, but over time I’ve come to realise that you don’t need a lad to validate you; all you need is your best friends.

They’re going to be there alongside you ordering the entire menu at McDonalds after a messy night out, rather than a boyfriend who would judge you for saying that a 20 box of chicken nuggets isn’t a share box.

They’re going to be the ones holding your hair back when you’ve had too many tequila shots in a post break-up ‘I don’t need no man’ night out.

They’re going to be the ones to make sure you’re ok and they are the people who you don’t need to validate your feelings to. Whereas boyfriends will conclude that they’re dating a psychopath and will proceed to telling everyone how crazy you are once you’ve broken up.

They’re the ones who are going to be there for you throughout your whole life, the good times and the bad times. They will be there to celebrate with you, and to cheer you up when things go wrong.

These are the people you can share your dirty dreams with, about that weird looking lad you remember from school who you had a weird crush on for no reason.

They’re the ones who you can obsess over TV shows with. Your boyfriend doesn’t want to talk about how much of a cow Jenny Humphrey is in Gossip Girl, or how you now only watch Pretty Little Liars out of dedication but you just can’t stop loving Ezria and Haleb, and you’re sickened by Spaleb.

Boyfriends can come and go, but your gal pals are for life. Cherish ’em.