I’m relatively new to the world of writing a column.
Colleagues and former colleagues of mine such as Barry Gibson and, in particular, Denis Kilcommons, appear to have acquired the knack of being able to write the best part of 1,000 words at a stroke.
I say appear to, because I know that even for such talented chaps it takes time and planning to knock out a column.
When I settle down to write my piece every week I try to remember what I said I was going to write about a few days earlier.
I often have a ‘Eureka’ moment and then forget all about it pretty swiftly.
After being unable to remember that I normally look through newspapers and the web to try and see if there is anything that tickles my fancy.
Sometimes there is, but often inspiration strikes when I’ve decided there isn’t anything to write about and just start browsing the web or watching the telly.
I think I must have about three of those ‘Eureka’ moments a week and forget them.
But this week choosing a subject has been simple – but writing it more difficult.
We are remembering 100 years since the start of the First World War.
Those lost years destroyed millions of lives, cost billions of pounds and altered mine and your existence forever.
You’re sat at home saying ‘How did it alter my existence? I wasn’t born until 1972.’
Someone in your family will have fought in the war. Millions of men did and women filled the gaps at home.
Returning soldiers’ experiences of the horrors at the frontline will have conditioned their responses to the rest of their life.
Britain changed as a result of the war – and the reparations levied on a broken Germany helped to lay the foundation for the rise of the Nazi party a short time later.
Millions more men died in the Second World War which saw horrors unimaginable to us pampered desk dwellers.
The loss of comrades, the sheer bloody sacrifice and the hell of it all that people went through should always be venerated.
There has been an increasing empathetic feel for the armed forces in recent years.
Young men and women – too many from Huddersfield among their number – have lost their lives in conflicts abroad.
They were friends and school buddies of the current crop of teens and twentysomethings when they were cut down.
That generation is suffering losses of their own and as the memory of the horrors of Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Dunkirk, El Alamein, Arnhem and the storming of the beaches as Normandy recede, so names like Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Helmand have begun to take their place, at least for a new generation.
I said earlier that this piece was hard to write and you may be wondering why putting finger to key would be difficult.
Put simply, it’s because the men who were involved in the conflicts above deserve more than I can give.
I wasn’t there and I don’t understand the horror.
I don’t understand the feeling of leaving my family and heading to somewhere I know that someone wants to shoot me.
I don’t even understand being hot or cold for days or weeks on end with not enough to eat.
The sacrifices made by these men don’t just begin at the point which they may be killed.
They begin the moment they join whatever force they choose – or was chosen for them.
War doesn’t begin on a battlefield – it begins with a thought and a pen when a man or woman agrees that they are willing to make that sacrifice.
I know I need to remember my ‘Eureka’ moments better but I’ll never forget the difference those men and women made to my life.