A view from the Bridge

THOUGH I missed the Ellon event, it was good to hear that the town’s Remembrance Day commemorations had a good turnout on Sunday.

Every year, a few less of the old soldiers make their way out into the November frost to commemorate those who gave their lives. When I was a child, it was World War 1 veterans. Now the World War 2 and Korean War veterans are growing older and fewer as well.

The dozens - sometimes hundreds - of names on memorials up and down the country pay silent witness to the scale of the demographic devastation that both world wars left in their wake. The 38 names on tiny Fyvie’s memorial illustrate just how much damage World War 1 alone left in its wake.

War - in all its forms - is perhaps one of the very few ‘constants’ in human history. As long as there is greed, hostility, or plain old disagreement, war will continue to exist. While there’s a very significant case to be made that World War 1 was both avoidable and pointless, historians are few and far between who wouldn’t regard Britain and the US as the ‘good guys’ pitted against the unspeakable evils of Nazi Germany in World War 2.

In our own time, soldiers in Afghanistan continue returning to their loved ones in flag-draped coffins, for a cause which seems futile to those of us without the insight of our political and military leaders in Westminster. I can only hope that these sacrifices are as worthwhile and enduring - as those made between 1939 and 1945. Sadly, I’m sceptical.

It’s idealistic and impractical to hope for an end to war, and the suffering it causes. The best we can hope for is an end to unnecessary war in general, and that those returning from service overseas receive the care and assistance they need to rejoin civilian society.

IN completely different news, I’m in the process of negotiating myself a new kilt.

This is my birthday present from my parents, and as part of the package, we’re considering designing our own ‘Hutchison’ tartan. I’ve been blessed with a damnably boring lowland name (my paternal ancestors seem to have come from the borders), and wearing MacDonald seems like a bit of a stretch, so we’re looking into it.

I have the full support of my girlfriend who - being of Indian extraction, and a fan of bright, gaudy colours - suggested purples, oranges, browns, pinks and greens.

I would have taken her up on her suggestions, however my father has epilepsy and I reckon such a tartan might provoke a seizure.