For your tomorrow…

For your tomorrow…

The British Fourteenth Army played a significant part in defeating Japan, and on Saturday, 15 August 2020, the world commemorated the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, aka, Victory over Japan day when on that date Imperial Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers. The surrender was formally signed on 2 September, 1945.

Commanded by Lieutenant-General Slim, the British Fourteenth Army were a mixed bunch comprising British and Indian Army as well as West and East African troops in addition to Karen hill tribes. It was also known as ‘The Forgotten Army’, due to the world’s focus on the European as well as the Pacific theatres of war rather than the Burma Campaign.

A particularly vicious battle was that at Kohima, the capital of Nagaland in northeast India. This raged from 5 April to 22 June, 1944. Fighting was savage with no quarter given or taken, many times hand-to-hand. The weather and the land, especially during the monsoon, were unforgiving.

Did I say they were a mixed bunch? Y’know, white skinned, dark skinned…

Fighting alongside each other.

For each other.

The monument to the dead of Kohima is simple, ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say: ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today.’

No matter the odds, they never gave up. 

We can learn from that.

No one left behind

J J Mitchell

‘Do you like my nipple hat?’

‘Do you like my nipple hat?’

Being a writer is helped by reading what others have written.  Not always, ‘writing’, mind you, but from various other interests one might have.  In my case, music and photography.  The heading comes from an article in the photography magazine, Amateur Photographer,  entitled ‘How a national cancer campaign was created with an old camera and no photography experience’.  

Lorraine Milligan’s dad gave her his old Nikon D40 for her birthday along with its kit lens and a 70-300mm zoom.  She has an eye for composition which is why she is an incredibly successful professional hair and make-up artist in the music, fashion, film and TV worlds.  As a former dancer, she was, as she said, aware of posture and body positioning.  

Her world changed on 12 November 2018 when her partner, Richard, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  It had spread to his lymph nodes, lungs and liver.  

He was just 40 years of age.  

It was whilst she and Richard were waiting in the chemotherapy ward that Lorraine caught the eye of a woman sitting opposite, Amanda, wearing a pink woolly hat with a nipple on the top.  

We smiled, and she said, “Do you like my nipple hat?” She didn’t have any hair, but she looked fabulous in her hat.  Lorraine wanted to know if she had one in blue for Richard.  They started to chat and Amanda asked Lorraine what she did.  On being told, she said straight away,  I’d love you to take some pictures of me for my personal journal, scars and all.’  

After the initial shoot with Amanda, an epiphany as Lorraine calls it, a conversation took place.  A campaign was born.  

Other women who had breast cancer, (what Lorraine calls her ‘breast friends’), were approached, the campaign was explained and over four shoots the powerful images you can see in ‘Bluegetitoo were created.  There’s also a film,   As the article says, ‘It’ll be the most powerful four minutes and nine seconds that you will have spent in a long time.  Like the author, I also found that I had some grit in my eyes, hence the tears…

Just one person.  A world changing experience.  A fightback.  A group of strong women who don’t give up.  And a man with a cancer that men need to be made aware of before it’s too late.  It is a thing and men get it too. Share the links.  It could save a life.  

J J Mitchell

‘No one left behind’

A strange form of intimacy

A strange form of intimacy

An interesting week just gone. Had to have some fairly intensive dental treatment, part of a campaign to sort out things various that have developed over the years. Ah, well, so it goes…

Anyway, imagine if you will, there I am, laid out flat, a team comprising the dental surgeon, his assist and the attendant, gowned up, and doing their thing in a highly professional way. You hear the murmuring of the surgeon as he directs the team, quiet, authoritative, and enabling. Nice word that, enabling. There is trust developed by self-confidence and knowledge that the training and communication are effective. And there I am, gob open, with anaesthetic puncture wounds, unmoving, totally at their command – and conscious. I’m allowing people to control me and come into my space in a way that in other circumstances would be intimate and uncomfortable. That it is why I call it a strange form of intimacy.  Consider heart surgeons for example, that really is quite intimate when you come to think about it.  Let’s just not talk about proctologists, eh?   

Like all writers, I began thinking vague thoughts about where I was, the feelings I was experiencing and what could be used in the book I’m writing, The Kold Kronicles, Book 2:  Defiance. Y’know, the things you do when you’re totally at the mercy of someone else when they’re doing their job. Thinking also passes the time, something we writers do, sometimes for too long. However I digress.  I can’t move until I’m told to turn my head this way or that, directions gently spoken but not to be ignored, he has the needle and / or drill after all…  My respect for the dental surgeon increases as I listen to how he controls the operation, a tad involved and in some areas quite challenging. I think to myself, ‘he’d make a great pilot,’ based on my experience of having flown helicopters on the North Sea for ten years plus. It was the ease of a co-ordinated team, with similar professional belief systems, practised techniques and clear communication that impressed.  At the end of the operation, the stitches were in, my mouth still a tad numb, but the work had been done well.  

So why the heading for this particular blog? Well, for a start I’m feeling somewhat philosophical. I’m also aware that we’re in a world where we have a strange form of intimacy with people in power, be it financial, political or those aiming to achieve power in these areas. It is an intimacy that we have never had in the past to the degree we’re experiencing now. The problem is, I find, that the intimacy we imagine we have may not necessarily be the reality. When one considers where our information is coming from and the vested interests involved, be they traditional or social media, perhaps this intimacy to which we are subjected is merely a chimera. Something drummed up by those who wish us to act in ways that benefit the few to the detriment of the many, i.e. you and me.  

It is a strange form of intimacy in that we think we know the people involved, their ‘crookedness’, their boorish behaviours, but in reality all we’re seeing is a show that people want us to see. It is not intimacy, it is a show and that’s all.  How we see through it, how we act like adults and remain part of humanity, decide whether we allow this strange form of intimacy to cloud our rational thinking.  

The choice is ours.

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

Pondering our destiny…

Pondering our destiny…

It’s a quiet day here in Edinburgh, blue sky with some beautiful cirrus meandering its way across the sky presaging a change in the weather in the next twenty four hours.  A bit cooler too.  Seems as though winter is starting to wake up and beckon the next stage of the year as our planet continues its journey around our sun, (one of many, remember, well, billions actually.)

So why the heading for this post? Simple really, it all started with a picture of the earth taken from the moon – yes, that famous one (Earthrise,  photographed by William Anders during the 1968 Apollo 8 mission.)  I was also reminded of our mortality by the news that a very good friend of mine is battling a life-threatening illness.  A decent, caring human being who makes a difference to all those who know him. He’s a former US Marine and brings that ‘can do’ attitude towards fighting this ‘irritation’ as he calls it. He’s blessed with support around him. He has friends who care deeply about him and a family that is as ‘awkward’ as he is regarding any form of illness.  He also has a dreadful sense of humour, (I’m smiling as I write that part.)  His sense of the ridiculous lightens some of those dark moments he has sometimes he tells me.

It’s only when you see pictures like the earth from the moon, (how small we are);  hear of close friends fighting an insidious ‘irritation’, (brings home your own mortality), that one can gain a kind of perspective.  You then think about some of those whose egos and monomania drive them to seek positions of power, be it economic or political.  The blowhards; the liars; the dysfunctional on so many levels; people in positions of authority and power, (not always the same thing), and you think, ‘Why are  you behaving like this?’  ‘Why are you promoting hate in the way that you are?’  ‘Why are you denying our common humanity?’  It’s done for power?  Really?  To repeat myself, really?

In centuries to come people looking back at these dysfunctional individuals might ponder  ‘What on earth were people thinking then?  Why did they fall into the trap of believing all the hate and vitriol that these people spewed into the body politic?’  

There again, if we don’t take control of our own destiny and see such people for who they are, then the next picture of the earth from the moon might well show a wasteland.  

 

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

It’s interesting how easy it is to create hate…

It’s interesting how easy it is to create hate…

Hate is an easy emotion to create.  All you have to do is demonise a specific group, for example, another race, another religion, another skin colour…  So easy, so easy.  Then add a media that has little independence, is 24 hours a day, and is owned by those who gain from this demonisation and what do you have???  A movement.  A movement that says it will help ‘Joe’ and ‘Jo-Ann’ deal with the issues that face them on a day to day basis. Issues such as zero hour contracts;  job insecurity;  low pay; a perceived inequity in treatment;  an economic and political elite that appears to ignore those outside their circle.  The movement is based on resentment, in many cases justified, and anger.  Not a good recipe for rational political discourse I would suggest.    

Invariably these movements are led by a demagogue.  These leaders play to the uncertainties and fears of many and say they have all the answers, be that preventing a certain faith-based belief system from entering the country or using force rather than diplomacy to deal with an argument with another country.  (That such a strategy has been used in the past and failed is ignored.)  You have a great mix for chaos.  It’s also a great mix for an author.

As an independent author I can look around the world, (thank you, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, et al), and say to myself, ‘Well, think about that in the next book.‘  The problem is that if I write it as it actually happened, many would say, ‘That’s so far-fetched.’  For example, a blustering demagogue stating that he will build a wall to keep out a race and have that race’s government pay for it.  Really?  And yet it is believed.  

The Sylvern in my books are fighting the Shadow who play to such fears, real and imagined.  Their human allies, whom the Shadow refer to dismissively as ‘Blands’, use all the ‘tools’ of the trade, controlled media, acceptance of so-called truths that bear no close inspection and so on.  So great to write about but not so great when you see where it can lead in real life.  History has many examples.  Unfortunately…

So, as an observer of the human psyche, I find it fascinating that hate is so easy to create.  The problem is, what does that leader do about the disappointment that arises when their followers see them with the feet of clay they surely have?  That’s when the leaders realise they have unleashed a tiger and are unable to let go the tail.  

And that’s how an author can really go to town on a plot.  

JJ Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’