War Effort

The young accountant at five feet four
was dogged and determined
in all his rugby playing.
Injuries to his back and knees
not fully healing
became worse with his myopic eyes
not having thick lenses while playing.

In September 1939
Britain embarked on war.
The twenty three year old
tried to enlist with his friends
to serve his country.
The army rejected
his bad back and knees,
myopia and thick lenses
as did the navy and air force.
With old men not accepted for war
he accounted by day, worked
nights and weekends at
the freezing works in season.
Long days and weeks for his country.
People talked, pointed him out.
An able bodied man !
He should be fighting !

A white feather*, symbol of cowardice
arrived anonymously in the mail.

Desperately he applied yet again
to each of the armed forces.
Again they rejected his back
his knees,  his glasses.
He returned to accounting
and the freezing works.
Long days and weeks for his country.

Another white feather arrived.

After the war his friends’
long days and weeks on
desert and ocean
set them apart from
his long days and weeks
in office and freezing works.

His rugby days with
those other young men
never came again.

* White feathers were symbols of cowardice sent to young men
not fighting during WW I and WW II.

Originally posted 9 February 2016.

War Effort

Beijing Red Alert Pollution Warning: Praying for Blue Skies

Andy posts amazing articles, photos and videos of his life in China.

Just Turn Left

Beijing Central Business District Beijing Central Business District

IMG_2479Yes it’s official. The authorities have issued a ‘red warning’ to Beijing that pollution levels are going to reach dangerous levels. For once the kindergarten opposite is quiet. All schools are closed for at least two days and children advised to stay at home. With the issue of the warning many people are afraid to go out.

“I’m not going out” texted one of my students on WeChat.
“Staying home. Afraid to go out. Even national library books look good today!” starting a flurry of text messages on multiple group chats.

Outside resembles the start of a bad dream. There is a strong sense of foreboding as buildings are wrapped in the heavy dim-yellow-grey toxic blanket that envelops Beijing. At least yesterday the sun was visible (kinda); a yellow disc obscured by a barrier of particles preventing any sort of UV penetration. Today is worse. Today…

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