It’s still another ten days until ANZAC Day, but on Monday night I had a bizarre dream about it so I figured I should get it down.
It was ANZAC Day at the RSL (Returned Servicemen’s League) clubhouse in Pinjarra where the old Perth Highland Pipe Band used to (and still does, just without me) perform for the ANZAC Day street march and afternoon piss-up. This time, for some unknown reason, I was also booked to appear as a stand-up comedian.
This was immediately confusing, because aside from the beer and reminiscence and camaraderie and more beer, ANZAC Day is not really the sort of event you hire a stand-up comedian for. It was also confusing because I am not a stand-up comedian. To make matters worse, when they announced me it turned out they were actually announcing another person named Chucky, who was a war veteran of some sort. So after standing up and triumphantly approaching the stage only to see it was the other Chucky (he was henceforth dubbed “Chucky 9am”) who was hobbling on up there, I had to do the walk of shame back to my table. At that point I declared myself to be “Chucky 4pm”, which was when I was meant to perform.
Things were a little more confused by the time I got up to perform and I turned out to be a really quite old man. I was not a war veteran although I had been around, I’m pretty sure, during World War II. About halfway through my stand-up spiel, I began fluctuating between the World War II version of Chucky 4pm and the 2015 version of him. But I seem to recall my stand-up was excellent.
Well actually it wasn’t, although I did get out a zinger about the one thing I found funny about ANZAC Day, specifically the minute’s silence. It being the only time all year that a World War veteran can be silent for a whole minute and not get his pulse checked by a nurse.
I didn’t really tell that many jokes, so much as reiterate the respect we ought to have for these men and women who did a horrible and difficult thing – not because it was glorious or noble, but because it wasn’t. And the youth of today (and yes, I count myself) are soft, and fat, and weak, and naïve, precisely because the previous generations did these awful things. Arguments as to whether they were inevitable or necessary things notwithstanding.
I lapsed into further philosophy at that point, and was left with the impression (after waking) that war is always going to happen as long as one generation needs it to happen. And right now it is the baby boomers ruining it for everybody. These are the kids who were raised with the prejudices and bigotries and ignorance of their veteran forefathers, but were fed (by the survivors) on a steady diet of how magnificent war was. They have absorbed all the hatefulness and reactionary feeling of the wartime generation, but none of the human sentiment and fragility and respect that seems to come from actually being in those situations themselves, and seeing that all people are the same. And now they are in positions of absolute authority, and the world is a machine that seems designed to run on war. It fuels economies and invention. It silences dissenters. It weeds out the in-betweeners and leaves a fresh crop of malleable minds.
Because it’s not the baby boomers who will have to fight these next wars. It’s their chilren and grandchildren.
And that is the greatest, most obscene tragedy of all.
So yeah. That started out surreal and funny and just left me feeling sick when I woke up this morning. Fuck war and anyone who wants to inflict it on the world.