Everyone in town, it seems, observes two minutes silence. The saying is that they died for us so that we might have a better life.
George is the rhythm of these young men, agonising over trench foot, or their mothers at home, sweethearts, children, echoes stuck in time, in the grime between those familiar cobbles on streets that hide bittersweet childhood memories and dreams.
They fought, and were fought by, another bunch of men with the faces of children, with tears from both sides and fears they failed to hide - a whisper from George to a boy with no name. Pretend your dead said the voice from his head to a pulse in his chest, like the beat of a far-away drum. You can go back to your girl and save your Mum. How everything rhymed; the stutter of a Tommy gun – the shower of pings on tin hats like mini-sonic booms, as minds exploded and soared to another place far, far away from the trench.
But the rhyme is not a picture-book nursery rhyme; it is a reel of crackling black and-white – before his eyes, his Father flashes by and Grandfather, too: we’ve been here before and we’ll come again.
Everyone in town, it seems, observes two minutes silence, but in George’s head silence is replaced by the soundtrack of war, through nerve-ends, it rattles down old, weary shot-at bones, and for two minutes he screams in tune with the rhythm of the trenches.