Lest We Forget – Westminster Abbey, 2009
Today – hot on the heels of the Modern Warfare 2 launch where caterers dressed as soldiers handed me brownies and mojitos and I was invited to shoot my enemy for fun – I went back to Westminster to try to capture something of the emotion which the Field of Remembrance triggered in me on Saturday.
There was a chill wind blowing across my face and fingers and, when I looked up from the camera lens, making my eyes water. Every so often I would catch sight of a word or phrase which would bring my mind firmly back to the fact this visual spectacle is rooted in conflict and suffering rather than allowing the lens to distance me too far.
There was the line from Laurence Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’ – “Age shall not weary them”, a “fellow submariners”, a “Dad”, an “Always”, all making each identical wooden cross a unique pinpoint of remembrance. There were also fellow visitors to watch. People of all ages were taking pictures (some with greater solemnity than others) and others chatting as if at a garden fete. Only a handful were silently reading but it was these few who caught my attention and it was a lone elderly man in a flat cap and beige coat awkwardly wiping his eyes which finally brought me to tears.
My mindset when contemplating conflict usually has more in common with Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce at Decorum Est’, but around armistice day Laurence Binyon holds sway:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.