A Tribute to the United States Marine Corps


Here, for no good reason, is a version of 'The Battle Cry of Freedom', which is one of my favourite books. I remember coming home in the middle of my time at Oxford to my Grandad's old place.

I used to take the bus and invariably got back in the dark, and the grand old man would have sandwiches and overstrong tea in the overcold kitchen, and the fire on very warm.

I'd go to bed with a book like this--I particularly remember taking all the material for my history special subject on the crisis of the American Union home with me, and reading it obsessively--and the walls were cold because his heating didn't really work and the windows had single panes and I hid in a bed he hadn't changed for decades. And I loved it and I loved him.

I never spent a summer when I didn't work when I was at Oxford. In the times I'm thinking of, I was with the agencies in the factories on nightshifts, and, in one mad 72 hours, on day shift too, and in the steelworks. You never know how good any bed is until you feel the sensual release of your feet after a shift from steel capped heavy boots, which is a memory I recall because it makes me feel less divorced from my past. I've never really known a feeling like it, although when I left Oxford's fetid backwater and arrived in London with Bruce Springsteen's Long Time Coming song in my ears the feeling felt close.

This music was a hit on both sides of the American Civil War, and is in this iteration dedicated to the United States Marines, whose members I have generally admired as too brave to lie and too tough to care. They are used by people far less worthy than them and are in my experience just straightforward men and women. God help them wherever they are.

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