Thursday, 10 July 2014

Letter to an Unknown Soldier

On Platform One of Paddington Station in London, there is a statue of an unknown soldier. He is reading a letter. On the hundredth anniversary of the declaration of war, everyone are invited to pause, take a moment or two.... 

And write that letter. 

All the letters that are received will be published on the official website - creating a new kind of war memorial - one made only of words. I am yet to write my letter but will do it pronto. 

Several famous names have put pen to paper to write their letter to the unknown soldier. Here is what Joanna Lumley wrote, which she read out by the statue at Paddington Station recently:

Dear Boy,
I can't stop thinking about you as you head off for the great adventure in France. You look very marvellous in your uniform: it is funny how a uniform turns a boy into a man so quickly.
I just wanted to say goodbye properly before you leave on the train, to remind you that even though you are excited now, things will change; and sometimes you will feel very wretched and frightened and not bright and happy as you were when the train pulled out of the station and you were all singing and waving your caps. 
Always remember that you must take care of your friends and mates who will be having a rough time as well: try to keep your spirits up, even when it looks darker than hell.
I don't know how sorely you will be tested but at all times be as brave and kind as can be.
I have put some cough lozenges in your kitbag and a vest for when it is cold.
Remember to read, as that will take your mind off the guns.
Look out for birds and flowers, as they are the signs that in the end all will be well; and if you meet local people please be polite (Bonjour, merci, au revoir).
Will you write to me?
Writing is like an escape, and that is why I am writing this now, as I think that if I saw you I would cry my eyes out at having to say goodbye.
I don't know what will happen, but every day and every moment I will be thinking of you, my Boy.
Come back safely. xxxx

Speaking of Joanna Lumley, I have been lucky enough to meet her and think she is really extraordinary. Her Garden Bridge project is very exciting. I recently won something from her in a charity auction, which I will tell you about another time...!

1 comment:

  1. This may enable Ms Lumley to feel good about herself, but to pretend that bullying schoolchildren into this sort of fantasy teaches history, or creates a work of art is naive at best. Look at the MP's lining up to write their letters, and then to advance war and to reward arms manusfacturers. I suggest that this project is sentimental at best and hypocritical at worst.