I am sure that when many regulars here, readers and writers, read this, they will decide that finally and irrevocably, the country that grabbed itself an empire over which the sun never set, invented the steam engine, saw off Hitler, and used once upon a time to eat ball bearing for its breakfast, has finally gone so soft that nothing will save it:
The Princess Royal has unveiled a memorial sculpture to the animals who have served and died alongside British and allied troops.
The monument, in Park Lane, central London, depicts two mules, a horse and a dog, together with lists of the numbers of animals lost in conflicts.
But I do not think this is straightforward evidence of softness. I think that we just live in rather soft times. If the times harden, we would harden up with them pretty quick.
The irony is that this apparently soft-as-slush BBC story actually harks back to a much harder time, when men were men and pigeons were pigeons. (Do you think Blackadder when you follow that previous link? I do.)
Anyway, on with the BBC story:
The monument pays special tribute to the 60 animals awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal – the animals’ equivalent of the Victoria Cross – since 1943.
They include 54 animals – 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses and a cat – commended for their service in World War II. Among these heroes were:
Rob, a para-dog who made more than 20 parachute drops while serving with the SAS on top-secret missions in Africa and Italy.
Ricky, a canine mine-detector who continued with his dangerous task of clearing a canal bank in Holland despite suffering head injuries.
Winkie, a pigeon that flew 129 miles with her wings clogged with oil to save a downed bomber crew.
… and many more gutsy beasts, protected, one suspects, by having only the dimmest idea of what they were actually engaged in, and of the risks they were taking.
If you want further evidence of the hardness that lurks just beneath the soft surface of human nature in soft old Britain just now, take a look at another piece of sculpture I spied this evening, on my travels along Oxford Street.