Some Christmas Thoughts

On the evening of 24th December 1914 hundreds of thousands of British, French and German soldiers left their trenches and came together in No-Man’s-Land to celebrate Christmas. That night a ceasefire was observed across much of France and Belgium, in blatant disregard of the official German and Allied policies of non-fraternisation. It was a time for men to swap cigarettes, food and souvenirs; to mingle and sing carols; to collect and bury the dead.

The First World War had been raging for 5 bloody months. It would continue for another 47. What had begun as a nationalist movement in Serbia finished as the world’s first global industrialised conflict. By the end of hostilities on 11th November 1918, nearly 20 million people had been sacrificed to the fallacy that war ends war.

Viewed in such a context the Christmas truce becomes a defining moment in human history. Men, who in November had been hacking each other to pieces for control of the Belgian town of Ypres, risked everything to wish each other a Merry Christmas just one month later.

When I reflect upon those extraordinary events, I am reminded of a line from John Sullivan Dwight’s carol, ‘Oh Holy Night’ - “A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices.”

The world is weary, now as it was then. There is hate and there is violence; this may never change. Yet there will always be a case for hope.

So as we celebrate Christmas this year, perhaps we might spare a thought for the soldiers in the trenches, who somehow found a sense of fellowship in the bitter depths of war. Perhaps we might remember 24th December 1914, and rejoice that the guns of the Western Front fell silent, at least upon the night the Angels sang.

trucemirror2

Merry Christmas everybody.

I’m sorry I haven’t been around this past year and I hope to get back into blogging soon.

Ed

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They Called It Mametz

STo my loyal fans,

It has been a while. I must apologise for my silence; with my time divided between work and work, there is currently no time for play.

I imagine your fingers are trembling as you read this post. Unfortunately, it is my sad duty to inform you that I will not be announcing my return at this juncture. I am writing to you today to alert you to the fact that one of my short stories ‘They Called It Mametz’ has been published and is available for your enjoyment on Amazon. Who knows, some of you might want to see what all the fuss is about.

The story follows a group of soldiers from the 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, as they prepare for the Battle of the Somme. If you do give it a read, please let me know how you get on.

Whilst I am on wordpress, I should inform you that I have decided to hang up my typing gloves for now. If you wish to stay in touch, please do follow my exploits via my podcast, www.thethirstpodcast.com.

I hope you are all well.

Love, Ed

‘They Called It Mametz’ at Amazon.co.uk

‘They Called It Mametz’ at Amazon.com

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The Pokémon Drinking Game

The other night, my friends and colleagues over at The Thirst Podcast Studios (check the podcast out, if you haven’t already – it’s a doozy) had a team bonding session with an aggressive round of the Pokémon Drinking Game. That’s right, there’s a drinking game. And it’s epic. There’s only one rule: you gotta chug ‘em all.

Sorry about the pun. You might say it was shocking. Like Pikachu’s thunderbolt attack… I need help. Anyway, look at the pretty picture.


These are the counters we used for the game. From left to right: Charmander, on a yellow post-it note, by Robert Horwood; Squirtle, by James Crosse; Bulbasaur, by Edward Fraser.

By means of comparison, here are the Pokémon as they appear on the television series.

You can visit this website for details about how to play the game.

And finally, here are some other Pokémon related goodies:

An A Cappella version of the Pokémon theme tune

Pokémon Apokélypse: Live Action Trailer

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Pulling Someone’s Leg

The idioms are back again, hurray! Today’s instalment is all about the naughty side of tomfoolery. That’s right, although the phrase ‘to pull someone’s leg’ now denotes a friendly bit of banter, meaning something like ‘to make fun of somebody by making them look foolish’, it actually used to have criminal undertones.

There are many proposed origins for the phrase, but my research suggests that pulling someone’s leg was originally a method used by thieves to entrap their quarry and thereby relieve them of their valuables. One thief would be assigned ‘tripper up’ duty, and would use various instruments (usually a wire) to knock the target to the ground. Whilst the hapless victim crawled about on the floor, the other members of the gang would rush in to complete the robbery.

It is not difficult to see how the comical effect of somebody being tripped over during the course of bit of skulduggery might have given rise to today’s meaning of the phrase.

I am not American (praise Jebus) but I gather that ‘pulling someone’s leg’ in American English retains a sinister edge, alluding to an element of trickery or deception in the part of the leg puller. Perhaps this might be a lingering connotation from the idiom’s less than Christian origin.

 

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Why does it have to be like this, Mr Fly?

It’s early, and I’m awake. Such unusual occurrences invariably have causes, and as I stare fuzzily around my room, the reason for my unhappy predicament slowly becomes clear to me. There is a faint buzzing noise coming from over there, somewhere by the curtain. An intruder, of the flying kind.

All thought of sleep is quickly forgotten. In a trice I’m on my feet. My family are prepared for these eventualities. We are in the possession of all manner of fly killing machinery (what honest household is not?) including several spray cans of RAID and a heavy duty fly swat for the more hands on assassin, but the equipment is all the way downstairs and I am not inclined to make the journey in my current state. In hindsight, of course, that would have been the sensible thing to do…

So I seize the book from my bedside table. It’s a big one, the kind with pictures. Perfect for the task at hand.

The intruder is wandering around the top of my bookshelf. I spot him lurking in between a couple of Enid Blyton books I can’t bring myself to throw away. My eyes narrow. It’s far too early for subtlety and so I hurl myself into the fray with reckless abandon, bearing down upon my foe and screaming with the thrill of battle.

My enemy takes to flight immediately. The chance for surprise lost, we become locked in a deadly struggle. For several minutes I pursue him violently about my room, swinging my book this way and that as I attempt to dislodge him from the air.

He dodges all of my flailings with contemptuous ease.  I tire of the conflict before he does. Mid-swipe, the book falls through my sweaty hands. My foe returns to his perch on my bookshelf, wherefrom he surveys me, naked and bested, with an unkind mixture of scorn and derision in his many eyes.

I crawl into my bed. Things are looking desperate. I know I haven’t got the stomach for another fight. But I can’t back down. Otherwise he will perform a victory dance intermittently on my back for as long as I remain in bed. I reason that man and beast must be able to strike some sort of accord, such as sometimes exists in war between worthy opponents. I am the first to set conditions. ‘Take my bedroom, it’s yours,’ I cry. ‘Only refrain from making your landings upon me.’

The winged tormentor does not care to bandy words with me. Territorial trivialities are of no concern to him. As he understands things, the skies of my room are his domain. And if I am too weak to defend myself, then that’s shame, to be sure, but he does not see it as a reason not to use me as a resting place in between his aerial forays. As if to prove his point, he buzzes over to me and brushes my arm. Instinctively I beat him away, but he’s already gone. He’s got what he came for.

Utterly defeated, I curl up into a ball, trying to expose as little of my vulnerable flesh as possible to the mischievous hunter. ‘Maybe he will take pity on me,’ I think.

He doesn’t. For the next hour we play a game, he and I. The rules are simple. First he waits for me to fall asleep, at which point he lands on me, so as to startle me awake, before retreating to survey his handy work. He repeats the same procedure over and over again until I get up and go downstairs.

Why? Because why not? That’s why.

Well played Mr Fly. You’ve won this round. Now I’m going to get my RAID. If I were you, I wouldn’t be here when I get back.

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I don’t believe it – he’s only gone and made a podcast!

Yes, the rumours are true; eager as ever for more glory, I have indeed made the decision to try my hand at podcasting, so I’m afraid that I’ll soon be bothering you across another medium. This is the reason for my prolonged absence on theedexperience. It has been a wrench for me, being away from you all, but I think it was worth it, because now you get to listen to me too!

Basically, from now on I will spending a lot of my spare time on the podcast’s website – www.thethirstpodcast.com - so if you want to follow my ramblings please take a little look.

In terms of the podcast itself, the idea is that I teach my friend Rob philosophy. Sounds simple enough, but it isn’t. Trust me.

The podcast is on iTunes (just search for ‘the thirst podcast’), or you can listen to it here. Do give it a listen and let me know what you think. And if you enjoy it, why not show the world (which is all that seems to matter these days!) by giving it a rating and/or a review on iTunes, or by getting involved on twitter or facebook?

Fear not if podcasts aren’t your sort of thing, I will continue to post on here whenever I can. Anyway, thank you for your time!

For you, as always.

Ed

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Roger (as used in radio commands)

So my sister set me this challenge. Actually I knew it already, so ’twas no biggie.

Roger is used on the radio to mean ‘message received’. But why? Was there some larger than life radio control man called Roger? Sadly not. Well there might have been, but it certainly was not he who sired the phrase.

The use of Roger  comes from military pilot radio transmissions in the Second World War. In 1941, before the now internationally accepted alpha, beta etc.  both British and American phonetic alphabets used Roger as the standard abbreviation for R, as in Received.

Incidentally, if you ever find yourself on a US military radio channel, do not say ‘repeat’ unless you want to see ash and brimstone fall from the sky. Repeat is only used to request additional artillery fire (you would say ‘say again’ if you wanted somebody to repeat their last message). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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