The Last Post

Post image for The Last Post

by Petunia Winegum on November 26, 2015

When the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band. The sword of truth could once cut through the crap, but the blade is blunt because the crap is more abundant than it was eight long years ago. A medium with the potential to achieve the positive embarked upon a slow, protracted slide into the negative, sucked down a black hole inhabited by gremlins immune to sleep and fuelled by an eternal supply of venom and bile. On-by-one, each voice once sought out by the remaining upholders of justice has been silenced, abandoning the oasis before the gremlins reached it and planted their flag in its soil.

Since 2012, the saga that forbids any fence-sitting has continued to attract the outraged and the angry, but it has also attracted the worst of human nature; alas, the latter outnumber the former. The latter, for all their unhinged fanaticism, are a group united by one blinkered, tunnel-vision aim. In the other corner, less of a group and more a collection of disparate individuals with individual agendas; two sides of the same passion fruit, but the one too splintered by their personal fixations to unite as a group in quite the same way. And the disparity in numbers is akin to a solitary soldier armed with a bow-and-arrow confronting an enemy boasting the latest military hardware. He has fought bravely, but he ultimately cannot win because his comrades are elsewhere on the battlefield, fighting their own little wars against the same intimidating army.

Don’t give up the fight, some might say; but at what cost? The best general will lead from the front, but he will be the first to fall when the bullets rain down as his platoon scurry back to the safety of the trenches from where they can toss the odd grenade without having to look the enemy in the eye. The fallen general may receive a full military funeral and a monument may be erected to honour his memory; but will those who sob in the shadow of the cenotaph be shedding tears for his loss or for the belated realisation that they were found wanting when the call came?

Twice before, Sgt Wilson gave them what they wanted; and on both occasions he quit whilst ahead, the decision was his own and his alone. They demanded he carry on, but he resisted their pleas for just one more; his mind was made up; he never went back. He then did his best to walk in Captain Mainwaring’s shoes, but the applause was muted, rarely euphoric. Mick Taylor was not Brian Jones. Peter Davison was not Tom Baker. His feet were moulded from a clay-based mixture and he too failed his former C.O. when the situation was at its most desperate and the rest of the platoon had gone AWOL. The enemy was at the gates, poised to overrun the embassy, so Sgt Wilson fell on his sword.

Life is short at times of war, and no sacrifice is worth it in isolation. Why leave the warm bed with the warm mademoiselle acting as electric blanket to volunteer for a firing squad in the cold desolation of No Man’s Land, knowing full well there will be no last-minute reprieve from those who took but rarely gave? The war is theirs now; let them fight it. It’s not funny anymore because it won’t be over by Christmas.

Eventually, we all assume the role of orphans; we have to go it alone without the maternal embrace to retreat to. That moment has arrived and the big bad world beckons. You received the best of educations and you have been provided with enough weapons to protect yourself if the desire to fight on remains. Your choice. My choice. Her choice. Au revoir, les enfants.

© Petunia Winegum



Never Give Your Real Name

Thumbnail image for Never Give Your Real Name

Even if you haven’t already heard, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those clumsy clots from the Met are back on the sorry-go-round once again. Bless ‘em; they’re like a hapless puppy that keeps leaving a message on the kitchen floor even when it knows messages are supposed to be deposited in the garden. […]

November 26, 2015

Family Affairs

Thumbnail image for Family Affairs

Purveyors of post-Oprah attitudes to opening the closet containing a dozen dusty skeletons may imagine public awareness of what used to be called child molesters is solely down to them. Not so, especially for those of us who were raised in the 1970s. Like all previous generations of children, we were taught from a fairly […]

November 25, 2015

The Virgin Soldiers

Thumbnail image for The Virgin Soldiers

When ordinary mortals are bitten by radioactive spiders – one of those occasional hazards of the modern world we’ve all had to deal with at one time or another – the powers they suddenly acquire present them with a choice: do they selflessly use these powers for the good of mankind or do they opt […]

November 24, 2015

Accept Everything; Question Nothing

Thumbnail image for Accept Everything; Question Nothing

Iraq? Cash for honours? Public-private partnerships? Tuition fees? Devolution? ASBOs? The smoking ban? Debate as to which was the most damaging contribution to the country made by New Labour will probably continue for decades, depending on which lethal legacy is currently hogging the headlines. However, one especially stealthy innovation that has infiltrated every sphere of […]

November 23, 2015

The Ballad of John, Paul, George and Ringo

Thumbnail image for The Ballad of John, Paul, George and Ringo

At a time when BBC radio’s version of pop music was the likes of Toby Treacle and his Tearoom Orchestra playing mood music instrumentals on the Light Programme (not real, but not far off), Radio Luxembourg was one of the few outlets for British adolescents to hear an alternative. Up in Liverpool, the reception was […]

November 22, 2015

The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of Lulu

Thumbnail image for The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of Lulu

Last weekend was Louise Brooks’ birthday. Mary Louise Brooks was born on November 14th 1906. I confess that I didn’t know much about her until I saw a reference to her in a video blog from the popular film critic Mark Kermode. He made passing reference to “the Louise Brooks movie” Beggars of Life. A black and white […]

November 21, 2015

Will You Take Me Home?

Thumbnail image for Will You Take Me Home?

You fell asleep this week, my little friend, on one mournful morning. You lie sleeping now, buried wreathed in royal purple, as befits you, In the shadow of the tree, where you used to lie in summertime At peace now. You came to me some years ago, Starving, battered, terrified and ill. A little bundle […]

November 19, 2015

We’re All in This Together

Thumbnail image for We’re All in This Together

Anybody in possession of a Facebook account will be aware of the numerous factors this particular branch of social media can boast that are anathema to those of us who use it merely to publicise links to either our own work or other people’s. Yes, the insatiable desire of the lemon-suckers to promote every thought […]

November 18, 2015

Consent of a Woman

Thumbnail image for Consent of a Woman

I can think I can probably say with a degree of shameful confidence that I was not the only man – or woman, come to that – whose first response upon hearing the bizarre case of Gayle Newland was ‘Why didn’t she video it?’ Okay, so it’s not something I’m especially proud of, but as […]

November 17, 2015