Celebrating VE Day

With Covid 19 deaths in the UK now the highest in Europe and rising, there seems very little success to celebrate right now. Even the man behind the country’s lockdown plan ignored his own advice by twice welcoming his married lover into his home for what The Sun (who else?) described as a ‘romp’.

The salacious story was featured prominently in some of the papers, burying the bad news of the rising death toll on the inside pages.

There are a lot of mixed messages flying around. The fact that coronavirus deaths have now topped 30,000 doesn’t sit well with the likelihood that the Government’s ‘stay at home’ message is going to be modified by the end of the weekend. I don’t think we’ll be hugging anyone anytime soon. As someone who is not a hugger and prefers my own personal space, I’m quite happy with that.

We all need light at the end of the tunnel – and some of the latest dreams you’ve sent me would seem that even our subconscious is suggesting this – but any fool knows we need to be inching along on our hands and knees, slowly, slowly, for everyone’s sake.

Tomorrow will see the 75th anniversary of VE Day and if I hear anyone else comparing our current crisis with war then I will personally break lockdown and go at them with a fixed bayonet.

What we’re going through at the moment is terrible, awful and weird. But it’s not war. Most of us have been merely confined to our homes for the last six weeks although, admittedly, that’s been harder for some than others, depending on our different circumstances.

We’ve not spent the last six years not knowing if our sons, husbands or brothers are going to come back to us alive from the battlefields or prisoner-of-war camps. We’ve not had to say a teary goodbye to our children and put them onto a train, clutching their little cases and bearing identity labels on their coats, to the safety of the country, all the while praying our beloved offspring will be cared for by complete strangers.

Our current crisis might have given us just a tiny bit of empathy for our predecessors seventy-five years ago. Who could – knowing and feeling what just six weeks of isolation means to us – not put themselves in the shoes of the men, women and children so joyous that the war in Europe, against the indisputable evil of Nazism, was finally at an end?

The parties in the cities are well documented. In our household, we were spellbound by a recent TV programme of home movie footage and live testimony from those days. Ordinary men, women and children celebrating the end of a dreadful tyranny.

My mother, now 94, recalls a party in her village around a huge bonfire. There was great relief that Hitler and his cronies were gone, which had seemed impossible.

‘The Far East was, of course, still a war zone till the end of that summer, with several locals still out that way,’ she told me.

So, in marking VE Day tomorrow, whether quietly, with picnics in the garden or singing Vera Lynn songs, let’s remember the wartime privations our relatives suffered rather than using it as a flag-waving exercise to put our current problems centre stage.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

By Maddie Grigg

Maddie Grigg is the pen name of former local newspaper editor Margery Hookings. Expect reflections on rural life, community, landscape, underdogs, heritage and folklore. And fun.

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