Oops! Deleted my spam file without thinking and lost bald-head’s comment on the graves gardener blog. Basically telling me off for being spineless: come on (!) why don’t you tell everyone what you really think? I guess that’s blog protocol. Tell it like it is, get it out there, spill your guts, take sides, be up-front, controversy and confrontation is good, get naked, decide if you’re a lover or a hater. Life is essentially humdrum and boring so use your opportunity to liven it up.
This is where I point out that I’m a fiction writer experimenting with a new medium, not an amateur journalist or social commentator. Fiction writers are often fence-sitters; even famous ones admit to it happily in interviews. They’re born to dwell on moral conundrums, painstakingly seeing every perspective, lovingly walking in a character’s shoes until it’s almost clear to everybody concerned what drives this imitation of a human being to behave the way they do.
I’m a life-long eclectic by choice. But in the midst of all of that truth is another truth; my personal truth that I’m still trying to figure out.
So here goes, for what it’s worth I find cemeteries claustrophobic, I’d want my minimised earthly remains (ashes) to be spilled from a mountain top over some endless wild expanse. Low-impact and clean. But… what if some dearly beloved family member or good friend died tragically in the line of duty on a foreign battle-field? Neither option seems optimal to me; not the pretty english flowers or the stark german simplicity.
So the provocation pushes me to realise two things: firstly, like Anthony Loxton in my novel THE GOOD CEMETERY GUIDE I prefer some wildness in the mix, a fenceless park-like area where visitors might wander in peace and privacy, a place of natural beauty with running streams and huge harbouring trees (Ah, but trees bring leaves and work…!) and secondly, that perhaps my gut response has something to do with the fact that I’m neither english nor german but afro-european.
Do I think nations should honour and respect their war dead? Absolutely. Do I think it would be great if we were all more involved in how our country’s cemeteries are set up and run? Absolutely. Do I think governments, politicians and public servants should lighten up (and open up) on the question of public cemeteries and burial sites? Absolutely.
The financial burden of running the war graveyards should not only be part of a national dialogue between government, the military, survivors and the rest of the population, it should be part of dinner conversations conducted with much gusto and opinionated banter.
Of course I have an opinion but it’s dull to me; using the imagination to explore other people’s motives is a far more satisfying activity. So how to keep faith with the characters who arrive out of the dark wanting me to tell their tale impartially, warts and all? I’ll just don my wizard’s hat and wander away from real-life blogs and I’ll soon be back in their zone.