I remember

November 11th is here.

Ninety eight years since the end of ‘the war to end all wars’. This makes today Armistice Day, or Veteran’s Day, or Remembrance Day. (Or, if you’re Polish, independence day! Congratulations!)

So I remember.

Some people – particularly in America, where today has become ‘Veteran’s Day’ – consider this day to be a ‘support the troops day’. It is not. Today is about remembering the dead. Those who set down their lives in war, so we could live in peace.

And to say ‘Never Again’.

That’s the bit that is too frequently missing, but also the truly important bit. And it seems more important this year than any in my lifetime. Here in Britain, we are distancing ourselves from our European allies. In America, a new president has been elected, who has expressed reluctance at coming to the aid of NATO allies. And in Russia, there is a leader who has recently annexed part of the Ukraine.

For the first time in my life, it feels like there is real potential for war in Europe. Russia is strong again, and the institutions that kept the cold war a stalemate are faltering.

I remember. Never again.

It’s very easy to say. But what does it mean?

We cannot just say it. We must mean it. We must be active.

The last 71 years of peace — which, to be sure, has not a complete absence of violent conflict or near good enough — has not been achieved by keeping to ourselves, and looking inwards. It has come through being global citizens, and participation in global institutions.

So now people want to draw back. Make Britain’ great again’. Make America ‘great again’. Go it alone.

Never again.

If you say those words today, and you mean them, they are a call to action. Be a global citizen. Be vocal.

Never again.

This is not a slogan. Or today’s version of ‘amen’, leaving it to a higher power.

Never again.

This is a challenge. Accept it.

I remember. Never again.

poppies

Mr. Topp Runs the London Marathon

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Happy Halloween, boys and girls.

I’m sure many of you already know this, but I have been chosen to run again – I have won myself a spot in the London Marathon. I am running for Shelter, and would ask you to sponsor my run here.

But this time there’s more in it for you.

Oh, yes.

We are going to add gimmicks to this round of fundraising.

While you should still just sponsor me because I’m going to suffer for 26.2 miles (and many, many more training miles) for charity, if that’s not enough for you, or if you have so many friends running the marathon and cannot sponsor them all … I give you more. After all, the London Marathon is no ordinary race – it is a spectacle. People line the route from start to finish — I’ve seen the number reported as 250,000 people, but have no idea how that number was determined (or how to verify it’s accuracy). It will also be broadcast on the BBC.

You deserve more. I will be spectacular. I will be in costume as I run.

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As my first gimmick, I am allowing my SPONSORS to choose the costume.

The caveats:

  • I am going to be in public. In front of a quarter million people. And on TV. Representing a charity. There are decency requirements
  • I will be running over 26 miles in the costume. It will be my first marathon. I need to be able to run in it reasonably well
  • I’m not sewing or custom ordering or otherwise building a costume. I need to be able to buy it in a shop
  • Masks are a pain in the ass. If I end up in a costume that needs a mask, expect me to work around it somehow. Or discard it after the first mile
  • I am supporting Shelter, and will be incorporating their race shirt in some way

Fully caveated, this is how it will work:

  1. Go to Virgin Money Giving, and sponsor me at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/mrtopp
  2. You can either not be anonymous, or leave your costume request in the comments
  3. You can support others’ costume suggestions through the comment you send with the donation
  4. I’m looking at total support, not the biggest single donation

The person or costume with the most cumulative money donated will win!

I will post regular leaderboards, so you know where you stand. The final day for donations to count towards the choice is 23 March 2017 – one month before I run! After that, I’ll be assembling a costume and assuring myself I can run in it …

Get in.

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So, here’s the thing.

It’s eleven at night. And I bought a new keyboard today. Mechanical. Clicky – but not overly loud. And, as a result, I feel that I should be typing something – for no other reason other than the fact that typing will help me to get used to the keyboard, and getting used to it means faster typing speeds and fewer errors.

… but …

I’ve absolutely no idea of what to say. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s late. I’m tired. Today I’ve done morning parenting (Karen went into the office early). I’ve done the full workday thing. I’ve spent time pointing out the problems to a roofer, so a rather wet problem could be fixed. I’ve done post-work parenting (joint). I’ve had a post-parenting inter-parent conversation which mostly served to draw attention to the fact that I’m too tired to type coherent sentences. I’ve listened to my new Amanda Palmer album (yay Patreon!).

And now I’ve typed on a clicky keyboard. Clicky-clicky-clickity-click.

As I type, the typos start to disappear. In their place, more speed. Speed is all. All is speed. Rapid clickity-clicks, clickity-clicking. Brief interruption, where I have accidentally put things in ‘full screen’ mode. I didn’t know there was a full screen mode. What have I done? How have I done it? Problem solving. Solution found. And clickity. Clickity. Clickity.

Click.

One thousand eight hundred ninety four

(This post was written by a man who was once, but is no longer, bearded.)
(The beard was mighty.)
(Look upon it and weep.)