Letter to an Unknown Soldier
The 14-18 website http://www.1418now.org.uk/ supported by the Arts Council, is well worth a visit and is promoting a whole range of commemorative artistic events, but the area that interests us is Letter to an Unknown Soldier: an invitation to write creatively, and with authenticity; an invitation to write your version of the letter read by the soldier-statue on platform one at Paddington Station.
There is no officer class blue pencil censorship: this is a democratic, egalitarian platform, with an opportunity for diverse voices to be heard. Deadline is 28th June.
The website offers support in the writing of your letter and also lists some well- known contributors; but the website is democratic: from 28 June 2014, the website will show all the letters sent to, and received by, ‘An Unknown Soldier’ at Paddington Station, on platform one.
These long uneven lines of ink,
Sitting here patiently,
As if they are waiting their turn
To come to life and ask a question,
About all the irrecoverable reasons
Why my grandfather joined up,
So soon after marriage; then birth
Of my dad, December1914;
The old truths, the dusty
Beliefs and certainties:
‘Who’s For The Game?’
‘You’ll be home by Christmas.’
Is that what you thought, granddad?
But we never talked about it,
You have to live in the present,
The country is uncaring now,
Despite the battle names glazed over,
On the television programmes,
After another fifty years;
People watch the Voice,
Worry about their jobs and bills
Or donate to food banks,
Fly away to the sun.
No consensus this year,
Nor any agreement ever,
Past, present, future,
All these words – historians
Keeping their explanations tidy,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.