Monday, 4 August 2014

Melodrama, overkill - and history.

It wasn't the first word that came into my head when I heard of the proposal, but it must have been pretty well the second - melodrama.  There are undoubtedly some parts of the world where people are unaware of the fact that this weekend has marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars.  At the outbreak of hostilities, the British Foreign Secretary was Lord Grey and he is famously quoted as having remarked, "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time".  Whether or not there is any truth in the attribution to his lordship hardly matters;  it seems an apt thing to have said, albeit perhaps a touch pessimistic.  The quotation has received fairly wide publicity during the last few days and it has been suggested that across the country, people should turn off their lights for an hour between 10.00 and 11.00pm, perhaps leaving just one light on or a candle burning. Tower Bridge and 10 Downing Street will be darkened and "At 10pm, to coincide with the start of the 'Lights Out’ initiative, a vigil service will be held at Westminster Abbey during which members of the congregation will extinguish candles until there is just one left alight on the tomb of the unknown soldier, which will be snuffed out by the Duchess of Cornwall." (Daily Mail)

I have remarked elsewhere that I shall almost certainly be suffering from WWI overload before too long.  Newspapers and television aren't helping, nor is the proliferation of web sites:,, and so on.  Then, today, good old Auntie BBC is devoting a total of very nearly nine hours to coverage of a memorial service in Glasgow cathedral in the morning and, in the evening, commemorative events covered in Belgium and Westminster Abbey. 

If the first - Lights Out - smacked to me of melodrama, the second seemed like overkill.

But . . .

The effects of that Great War have been felt ever since, and are still, today, a hundred years on, it is still affecting the lives of ordinary people in many parts of the world.  The Second World War was indirectly caused by the First - or, more exactly, by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles ending the war between the Allied powers and Germany.  And much of the present trouble in the Middle East has come about because of the (arbitrary) drawing of national boundaries under the Treaty of Sèvres between the European allies ant the Ottoman empire.  Perhaps that sounds melodramatic to you - but it's history as well.

1 comment:

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

It brings to mind a song title... maybe that's multiple songs with the same title:

If I knew then what I know now

If only!