As the fictional Captain Blackadder commented. "(this) war would have been a damn sight simpler if we'd just stayed in England and shot fifty thousand of our men a week."
A hundred years have passed and the tragic loss of a generation still evokes haunting thoughts of what might have been, if only the entire leadership of the Western world hadn't been hell bent on proving who had the biggest stick.
In his latest novel "Time and Time Again." Ben Elton (co-creator of Blackadder, with Richard Curtis) revisits the war to end all wars, but in a very different genre from his previous WW1 novel, which was a murder/mystery.
"Time and Time Again" is more of a fantasy: if the protagonist succeeds in his time travelling mission, World War One will never happen. Imagine that.
I like Ben Elton a lot; talented, funny, older than me — plus he was also born in the world's most beautiful city! So I can't wait to start reading "Time and Time Again", if only to discover how Ben Elton deals with the consequences of meddling with history.
On a personal note, my own family were heartbroken when our lovely Len died, a few years short of his own centenary. I always called him Lenny boy and he was the last of my great uncles and grandparents. Two years on, it's really beginning to hit home that there's no-one I can talk to for first hand memories of World War Two. I'm sure he knew just how much he was loved and cherished - but at our weekly pint at the Soldiers Return, we tended to argue politics, or chat about football. I suppose some memories are best left unspoken.
Even more heartbreaking are these statistics from the Falkland's War, provided by the South Atlantic Medal Association (2012):
"During the two-month war 255 British troops were killed. But that figure has been eclipsed by the number of Falklands veterans who have committed suicide – currently around 300." If only that wasn't so, but these statistics seem proof, if anyone needs it, that war doesn't only take life, it ruins lives.