Father’s Day is being advertised

I have just been reading an account of the terror of Aleppo and listening to Michael Nyman on the BBC’s Hear and Now discussing War Work. I watched/listened to this short cut

and was saddened – even as the sun is shining on a pair of Eastern Spinebills flitting around the Honey Grevillea and next weekend’s Father’s day picnic is being advertised in the local rag. The unequal distribution of luck is more than a surprise.

Michael Nyman’s War Work of 2014 was composed to mark the centenary of the First World War. It is subtitled Eight Songs with Film, and uses terrible (and awfully mesmerising) archival footage of sons, fathers, lovers in shell shock. The texts are from English, French, German and Hungarian poets who died in the war, all except the painter and poet David Bomberg.

In 1916, a young Australian came home so damaged that for 12 years he could say who he was. He brought shellshock to the attention of the public. The papers called him Australia’s Unknown Soldier. Now we call it post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and it is still a huge problem a hundred years later. There is more awareness of the issue, but it is difficult to treat and suicide is a danger. Current diagnosis relies on the presence, severity and impact of symptoms. There are no proven objective tests. A new program in Adelaide is pairing elite athletes with returned soldiers suffering from PTSD. They are also offered access to art and equine therapy, yoga and meditation classes.

And what of the civilians in Aleppo, especially the children? If they survive, what lives will they inherit from the past four years, since the 19th of July, 2012?

This happened a few days ago – do we need constant reminders? I do. You live your life in your immediate environment.

You can donate to various organisations including: Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres – or UNICEF, who estimate 8.4 million children are in need of  emergency aid.