An hour to pass in Chorley, a walk in Astley Park. Peace. We are so blessed to live in peace when we look at the world around us – so many conflicts, so much death and destruction. As I was leavng I paused, as I love to do, by the war memorial and was saddened – no, heartbroken. I remember a while back when I was there, being struck by the empty panels on the wall which records the names of the fallen. I remember praying that they might always remain empty, that no more lost lives would have to be marked in this way. Today I noticed ‘Addendum’
It took me back to 4th August 2014 when Preston turned the lights out* to remember the onset of WW1. I wrote this piece to record my emotions after the ceremony:
Please, Stop The Candles
A beautiful August evening; pale blue sky with pink-tinged clouds as it approached dusk. In the distance, St Walburge’s spire was silhouetted against the fading light.
People were gathering, old and young, waiting to honour the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. While we waited, a recording of some songs of the time was playing; Daisy, Daisy and others of that ilk. We were told how 1,956 candles would be laid by the cenotaph during the ceremony, one for each name on the Harris Roll of Honour.
The dignitaries from churches and council arrived, flanked by flag-bearers who provided a poignant backdrop to the proceedings. As the lights went out and the candles started to be placed a solitary bell tolled in the distance. People read war poems and letters out, the candles still came. Time and time again the volunteers went back to bring out yet more candles – one for each soldier who gave his life. More and more candles – each one a brother, son, husband, father. Each one leaving grieving friends and families. The candles seemed endless. I wanted them to stop. I wanted to cry out ‘No, no more dead, please’. Yet they still came.
During the ceremony I gazed up to the sky and saw four Chinese lanterns floating in the distance. I was reminded that we could stand in Preston in peace and safety thanks to the soldiers of the Great War. In too many places, Libya, Gaza, Ukraine, Syria to name a few, those distant lights could herald missiles or other arms heading towards us bringing destruction.
A solemn hush had fallen over Preston, but I pray the candles will, one day, stop coming.
Again I say, please stop the writing…..
*The lights went down all around the Flag Market in the centre of Preston, apart from Nando’s, which continued to blaze its neon sign in an utter insult to the memorial. Shame on you Nando’s. I never particularly liked the food, but now I also detest the whole brand.
Twinkle, twinkle, Nando’s light
How I wish you were less bright.
Blaze your business, loudly shout,
As we turn the town lights out.
Twinkle, Nando’s, shine your blight
On this fourth of August night.
© I Flack 4.8.2014