Ataturk dissolved seven centuries
of the Sultanate and the British
cloaked-and-daggered the aging Sultan
by sea to San Remo and exile.
Ataturk made the Sultan’s middle aged
cousin, Abdülmecid II, Caliph.
He seemed to carry his descent, as it were,
from the Prophet as lightly as a Pope
from the Saviour. He liked the pomp
and the public circumstance of the role
so much Ataturk sent him packing too.

Classical composer, husband of four wives,
painter, lepidopterist, gardener,
a Victor Hugo fan and of Montaigne’s
Essays –



Beneath the Edwardian village hall’s
high ceiling, under its oak hammer beams,
beside the Roll of Honour ‘For the Fallen’,
a squad of four year olds does the Conga, plays
The Farmer’s in his Den, Passes the Parcel.
The birthday girl is dressed as Spiderman –
her choice – eschewing Snow White, Rapunzel.

The backcloth of the proscenium stage
is a painting of part of the village
in halcyon shades of early summer –
the elm-lined road from the hall to the church.
There are eighteen names on the Roll –



As the First Gulf War began, I watched
the Cardinals – in their brewery
sponsored stadium in downtown St Louis –
beat the ‘Frisco Giants. The home team
is named for the scarlet-breasted bird –
the visitors (aka the New York
Gothams before they went west) for chuzpah.
The fixture was part of the USA’s
annual baseball World Series, which,
of course, includes no teams from abroad.

It was a weekday, early evening –
very much a family occasion.
The programme, advertising caps and tee-shirts,
urged us to ‘think of our boys in the Gulf.’
Most of the players had Hispanic names.



The Armistice was agreed at 5.10 –
in Foch’s personal railway carriage
– among the cigar and brandy fumes.
The Chancellories of Europe knew
thirty minutes later. Big Ben was rung
for the first time in four years and gas lamps
lit in Paris. There was dancing and streamers.

Foch insisted the truce would not take effect
until 11.00 – ostensibly
so the news could be keyed and carried to
each trench and dugout on the Western Front.

Thousands of soldiers were killed that morning.
The last to die –



..the randomness: it could have been any soldier,
just as found, crossing the road near the barracks
as they hunted in their Vauxhall Tigra;

the futility: his death, their failed martyrdoms;

the iconography: his bearded murderers brandishing
their weapons, issuing statements for the media,
going viral – like his photo in dress uniform;

the kindness: from strangers in that terrible street;

the bandwagoning, the cant,
the high-horseing, the rabble-rousing:
variously from face-bookers, police,
politicians, tabloids, tweeters;

the closure: military funeral, life sentences, memorials;