World War One Remembered Again: Satire and Poetry

As we enjoy sunshine and heat in Blighty it’s easy to forget the struggles of our soldiers in honourable conflicts of the present and past, such as the war against I.S. The World War One death toll was growing every day a century ago, but it also inspired great satire and poetry.

Wipers Times World War One Satire Movie

I watched The Wipers Times last night on BBC iplayer, and thought it was an entertaining lesson in satire/parody, for those who still haven’t got the greenYgrey. I didn’t see it available on YouTube, although there is an Ian Hislop-led documentary available. Its available on Netflix and iTunes from Rotten Tomatoes, where it scored an 88% liking.

As well as showing the value for morale of satire, I think it highlighted how the good elite can be supportive of criticism (depicted by one supportive and one hateful officer), because they want a better country or organisation, and not to hide the negatives and ridiculous, just papering over the cracks, keeping up appearances, for their own benefit, while the team unit deteriorates, and in the case of war, people die.

Ypres featured in my last book XaW Files: Beyond Humanity, with a play of letters/words starring the Y. Wipers of the Wipers Times is a similar play of words, as that’s what the British soldiers lovingly called Ypres.

My fantasy passage was followed by the horrors of World War One represented by a John McCrae poem

Ypres of XaW (7:21)

TintinY raced ahead, as if sprouting wings when passing Brussels, until he was out of my  view. We were catching up with Clouseau as we approached the North Coast, but then the Inspector stopped for a p in the River Yser.
The river seemed to take offence at this, and rearranging its letters with the addition of the p, sent us hurtling slightly southwards and a century backwards to Great War-era Ypres.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow…
John McCrae, 1915.

David Jones In Parenthesis

I also watched The Greatest Poem, which is available on YouTube.

Jones was a World War One veteran who took over a decade to write his classic book-long poem, remembering his time in the trenches. He was always poor, and lived and worked in one room. He created one more epic classic before his death.

I found In Parenthesis’s Queen of the Woods section, read near the end of the documentary, from about 50 minutes, was particularly poignant, and relevant to the greenYgrey; especially as it was read with greenYgrey visuals, with a greenYgrey forest and soldier background.

Screenshot (61).png

Baltic Queen of the Woods

The Queen of the Woods reminded me of finding a garland of dandelions in a Baltic forest clearing, with the dandelion of course the greenYgrey world’s special symbolic flower, because of its commonality, and changing between grey and green to yellow and green; its latter shape brightens many a meadow.


Available to buy or borrow on Amazon and all great big bookshops.


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