#60 Dreams of war
Good morning. Today, Jacob is a soldier, battling in a complicated, live military operation, but also believes he has what it takes to solve the conflict.
There’s so much great music to choose from at the moment, for your accompanied listening. I’m writing to you from Porto, Portugal, so I’ll include one of the soundtracks of my trip, Weak In Your Light by Nations of Language, from their amazing album Strange Disciple. Here they are playing live for KEXP.
If you’re a keen cyclist, switch gears on the bike of the archives.
#60 Dreams of war
The clack-clack of gunfire rang in his ears. His arms felt light and electric, knowing something life altering was happening. Settled clouds of smoke from stun grenades rested in clumps in front of him, as he and his unit scaled the debris of the bombed building and advanced on their enemy.
Mikey stretched out a hand in front of him as he indicated which way they were to go and they all kept their eyes and weapons attentive to any movement. A stray cat sprinted between two buildings but they were all sharp enough not to start spraying. Somewhere in the distance, horror rumbled.
Jacob followed Mikey and the others. They turned a corner, and Mikey sprayed. He turned back. ‘Two down,’ he said, before advancing. Mikey jumped forward across a doorway, while Jacob turned to look in. He had heard that, where this war is, is home to 4 in 5 of the world’s population living in famine. That seems astonishing to him. Of all 8 billion people in the world. He knows he’s the enemy, but he’s also human and he feels a deep empathy for anyone enduring that kind of suffering.
The rest of his unit had passed the doorway, but something drew him in. He entered, and stepped forward, and out of the darkness a face emerged, two hands in front of their face, those terrified eyes wavering at him.
The instructions had been to take prisoners, but their unit leader was a take no prisoners type, kill or be killed. The man in front of him, on his knees with hands in the air, was muttering something in gibberish. Jacob couldn’t understand a word of it. He gave the man some water from his flask and some biscuits from his pocket, and turned around and ran after his unit.
The news says this is one of the most complicated wars of all time. Scraps over a tiny portion of land but a geopolitical nightmare. The US, China, most of Europe and the Middle East all sticking their fingers in to try and influence the outcome. Militia groups, terrorist organisations, doing whatever the hell they want like it’s the wild west. Jacob thinks it's absurd. Why descend into such chaos, when most conflicts could be hashed out in a room without the need for any actual fighting.
‘Jacob, are you coming?’ That’s his mum calling. He better go downstairs.
They sit for breakfast. It’s a Tuesday. They’re having eggs on toast.
‘Have you been following this war?’ Jacob asks.
‘The one all over the news!’
‘Oh, I see. No, not really. It’s all so depressing.’
‘Have you?’ Jacob’s father asks as he pulls an egg apart with his knife and fork and stuffs it in his mouth.
‘I can’t stop thinking about it. I think I could fix it, you know, if I were involved.’
‘How would you do that?’
‘I’m sure there are people who are trying.’
‘Well, they’re not trying very hard.’
‘Have you packed your bags for school?’
‘Why not? We need to leave in ten minutes…’
‘I was reading the news.’
‘Reading the news… At 15… You are a strange boy…’
Jacob finishes his egg on toast, drinks his orange juice and runs up the stairs like he’s trying to avoid getting shot. He combat-roles across the landing and packs his bags in three minutes. He’s ready to leave the house in six.