Today is the 100th anniversary of Remembrance Day, but for many in Australia there won’t be time for much remembering. Those whose homes are under attack from fire, and those who have gone to rescue them will be too tired and distressed for any ceremony.
It seems this Remembrance Day heralds a new era, where the face of the enemy has morphed into something else, something scarier. But history tells us it’s really the same old foe: politicians who lie in order to please their greedy masters. Corruption smoke-screened by empty promises and platitudes; by ‘thoughts and prayers’.
I’d wanted to commemorate today with a small victory of my own. After twelve years of hoping and wishing, my very first novel, Black Diamonds, is now an audiobook – available for pre-order right now, as they say. The First World War and my country’s labyrinthine fantasies about our part in it made this book, and provided the first spark of my whole writing career. I’ve never stopped examining this fascinating creature of us ever since, with equal parts affection and despair. But it doesn’t seem right to mark today with anything other than sombre reflection.
Personally, this year has been a struggle. I’ve been unwell for most of it, grappling with low-level dysphoria between depth-charge spikes into the dark. I’ve wondered long and hard about the value of stories at all in a world that seems determined to ignore so many bright and wonderful voices telling truths we need now more than ever.
But as dawn follows darkness, last week, just when I’d thought I should give the game away myself, stop bothering, find something more useful to do with my time, I received a little branch to cling to, some unexpected good news – which I’ll also share another day.
Because today is one that should turn our minds to what is lost, forever. And the true cost of refusing to listen to reason.
Photograph: Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum