The Third World War has begun!
Only this time we do not have to evade machine gun bullets. We do not have to worry about falling bombs. We do not have to keep a watchful eye for men leaping out of cane fields armed with pangas. Oh no, our enemy is far more skilled and deadly than that. This enemy can land and take control without you even being aware of it’s deathly clutches. It goes by the name of Covid 19 Virus.
I think of the Second World War, and amidst all the horror it entailed, a singer’s voice rings out, that of Vera Lynn. As a child of twelve, one of my favourite records was Vera Lynn’s Hits of The Blitz. I must have been this odd character. Whereas my friends were playing Cracklin Rosie and Is This The Way To Amarillo, I was listening to Vera Lynn: “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day...” and “When the lights come on again, all over the world, And the boys come home again, all over the world…” and “There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover…”.
I would imagine the troops during the war listening to those melodies, aching for home and finding encouragement in the voice of Vera Lynn.
I thought to myself: I wonder how old Vera Lynn was when she died? Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she was still very much alive at the age of 103! She used her 103rd birthday on the 20th March to call on everyone to “keep smiling and keep singing!”
She continued: “We are facing a very challenging time at the moment, and I know many people are worried about the future. I’m greatly encouraged that despite these struggles, we have seen people joining together. I am reminded of World War Two, when our country faced the darkest of times and yet, despite our struggles, pulled together for the common good and as we faced the common threat as a country, and as a community of countries that joined as one right across the world.”
I loved it when she finished: “Music is so good for the soul, and during these hard times we must all help each other to find moments of joy.”
Yes, I thought, music is a definite healer. Unfortunately Vera Lynn could not sing the following song but I have the next best thing. Kate Normington singing my version of The Bluebird of Dover!
Another Octogenarian, who also served in World War Two was Captain Thomas Moore, or Captain Tom as he is now fondly known. He must have delighted in all of Vera Lynn’s music during that horrific time.
This is the Army, Mister Jones
No private rooms or telephones
You had your breakfast in bed before
But you won’t have it there any more….
During the current UK lockdown, he obviously thought to himself: ‘How can I help raise money for the NHS? They have been so good to me. I’m an old man with a walker and…hold on, that’s it! Me and my walker can ‘stroll’ 100 times around my house. It will take a while but there is no rush, is there? I will get people to sponsor me. I will aim to raise $1000 pounds which I can give them as a thank you.’
And so Captain Tom began walking. And the donations started to pour in.
With the aid of his walking frame, he completed 100 laps of the 25-metre (82ft) loop in his garden in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, in 10-lap chunks.
“I never dreamt I would be involved in such an occasion as this,” he said at the end of his final lap, which was accompanied by a guard of honour.
So far he has raised over $29 million. He and Michael Ball then produced their version of the song You’ll Never Walk Alone which has topped the UK music charts. This man, one week short of a hundred, became the oldest person ever to accomplish such a feat! He has been honoured with a special postmark.
Royal Mail franked all letters with a message to celebrate Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero, 30th April 2020.”
Queen Elizabeth 2 is another person who served in the Second World War and is still alive today. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and trained side by side with other British women. She became a skilful driver and mechanic. How she must have loved being out of the confines of palatial life. Yes, she was a possible subject to bombs and machine gun fire but for a brief period of time, she was normal! She and her sister, Margaret, anonymously mingled with the London crowds on VE Day. How they must have loved being part of the people during this breathtaking period of time!
There’ll always be an England, and England shall be free,
If England means as much to you as England means to me…..
Queen Elizabeth is the longest reigning British monarch. She has been ruling over the United Kingdom and 54 commonwealth countries for 68 years. Amazingly, it was never intended that she should become Queen. It was only because of her Uncle Edwards’s abdication after falling in love with a divorcee that her shy, stuttering father George, became King. There is a marvellous film ‘The Kings’s Speech’ which depicts this King’s battle with his stutter as he learns to finally address the British nation. King George died and Lilibet, her nickname as a young girl, stepped to the fore. It was in South Africa, when she was 21 that she made this speech: “……..I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
She became Queen on June 2 1953 in Westminster Abbey, at the age of 27. I remember being 27. At that time in my life, there is no way that I would have been ready to step into the shoes of a Queen. Elizabeth, however, was groomed for the position from the age of ten when her father, King George, ascended to the throne.
On April 5th 2020, she did an unusual thing: she addressed her Nation on television about Covid Virus 19.
“Though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect in prayer or meditation.
While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour using the greatest advances of science, and our instinctive compassion to heal,” she said. “We will succeed. And that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return.”
She concluded with a reminder of past difficulties overcome: “We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again.”
We’ll Meet Again was Vera Lynn’s song which virtually became the unofficial national anthem of Britain during the Second World War.
Indeed Vera Lynn, ‘Captain Tom’ and Queen Elizabeth are three indomitable figures. They each contain their own inner strength. Isn’t it interesting that all of them is above the age of ninety four? Do these types of people ‘grow’ anymore? My brain races around and then it falls on our own leader, Cyril Ramaphosa. At the moment, he has the whole of South Africa on his shoulders. And he is 67! Only a few years older than me. When he goes to bed at night, he must lie awake thinking: ‘Have I done the right thing? When the country was in total lockdown, then my people were more protected. But I have to let them loose in various stages, otherwise the economy of the country will grind to a total standstill. Please God, let me be doing the right thing!’
Yes, these ‘indomitable’ people were present in the past, are still present today, and God willing will be a part of our future.
With a soft laugh, I quote these words by the incredibly ‘indomitable’ Mahatma Gandhi:
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
Lovely, inspiring article Gaynor. As a child in the war I also loved to hear Vera Lynn with her encouraging songs. Nice to hear she is still alive. God must have blessed her for the great good she did for millions in those sad & lonely years.
I was amazed to discover that she was still alive, Neville. I don’t know whether I would wish to live to 103!
Hope you and Margaret are keeping well.
With a smile I kiss your eyes
Thank you for another lovely article, Gaynor. I was glad to see that Captain Tom was promoted to Colonel by the Queen on his hundredth birthday yesterday. I hope we will survive this unprecedented disaster. Despite not being able to see my way out of the dark tunnel, it is thanks to people like you that we carry on.
Jean, I have just been watching the British news – 28 571 people have died. And I have the terrible feeling that we have only started. Thank goodness for Ramaphosa!!!
And, yes, wasn’t that great for ‘Colonel’ Tom!
Thank you for reading my blogs!
With a smile I kiss your eyes
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