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Sunday 7th September 2003

I have been watching Band of Brothers on DVD. I suppose my generation is very lucky to have never gone to war (obviously people who joined the army have had to do so, but then they must have been aware that that was a possibility when they enlisted), but there's a part of me that feels I've missed out on something. And not just the opportunity to be able to shoot Germans and not get arrested.
I'm 36 now, even if world war three arrived and it became compulsory to fight for our country I would be too old. I'd end up in Dad's Army, telling Pike not to tell anyone his name, whilst at the same time, amusingly revealing it myself.
That might be fun, but it wouldn't be like Band of Brothers exciting.
I suppose these shows are trying to make us understand how horrific war is, and how brave our grandfathers were (well in Band of Brothers, how brave the Americans were and how stupid our British grandfathers were), but it just makes me wish I'd had a chance to prove myself in battle. To take part in that terrifying lottery and hopefully return home, for a few months of everyone treating you like a hero (and women chucking themselves at you for risking your life for them), followed by decades of people telling you to shut up about the war and not giving a fuck about what you did.

It must have been wildly exhilirating to be in the second world war, it must have made you appreciate your life, as well as to clearly understand that your existence is ultimately futile and pointless. How random can life be? The bloke next to you shot in the head, you survive. No reason, but chance. Or a pretty tight and mental God.
What I'm trying to say, I suppose, is that even programmes which attempt to show you the harsh reality of conflict can't help but romantacise the experience.
If you survived without your head or worse your testicles being blown off, it would turn out to be the most exciting thing that ever happened to you in your life.
I see there is a Playstation game based on the Great Escape. I love the Great Escape and all stories of prisoners of war risking their lives for freedom. But I can't help wondering how they would feel in their tunnels, if they knew that in 50 years time, boys would be sitting in their bedrooms reliving their experience as entertainment.
They might not have minded. They might have been proud.
I suppose we all want to be heroes deep down. Even when we are cowards, speaking from the protected position of being too old to join the army in a time when conscription is no longer likely to come into play anyway.

Anyway thanks to all those who fought against the Nazis. You protected our freedom, but more importantly gave rise to some great TV shows, films and video games. I suppose we should thank Hitler for that too, because if he hadn't caused all the trouble in the first place, our leisure time would be fairly dull.
Let's raise a toast to Adolf Hitler!

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