I feel like I'm in a war. It's a war that started on 1 July 2007. The day after tomorrow it will have been going on for 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 2 hours, and 2 minutes. But actually it's a global war, and it didn't start everywhere at the same time.
It's a war that's very like the Second World War. Once again we weren't ready, and the Nazis overran us easily. They had a war machine, and we didn't. These latest Nazis have, as before, overrun most of Europe in short order. There are smoking bans from Bantry Bay to Bratislava. They haven't captured Spain yet. And they haven't fully pacified Holland or Germany or Croatia. All the rest seem to have given up without a fight. And the news is always unremittingly grim. Iraq is the latest country to fall under the heel of the jackboot.
I didn't want to fight this damn war. Nobody did. I could have joined the Queen's Own Trenchermen, as a private soldier. But, one way and another, I found my way into the Royal Blogging Corps.
It's a war of words rather than bullets. And there's no training. If you can craft a sentence or two, you're thrown in at the deep end. They give you a kite that's loaded up with nouns and verbs and adjectives, but it's up to you how you shoot them off. If you find yourself in a dogfight with the other side, you have to fly by the seat of your pants, and hope you make it through.
The Nazis mostly go in for carpet bombing. They've flattened half of Britain with their incessant bombing raids. You can see the burned-out pubs everywhere. They use the mass media, the propaganda offensive, and the Big Lie.
They also have their own blogging corps. I've encountered the Red Baron, Rollo Tommasi, a couple of times. I got him in my crosshairs once, and released a stream of powerful invective. But he dodged the bullets, and got away. When I got back, I found my rudder had been half shot away.
Two years and two months into the Second World War, the Nazis were at the gates of Moscow. They never got any further. The Russian winter struck, and froze them to the spot. The following year, they continued their advance southwards to the Volga, and to Stalingrad. And there they were defeated. After that they were going backwards all the way to Berlin.
Words are like bullets. And you're always looking for the magic words - the incantation - that will shoot the other guy down in flames. And you're always frightened of the words that will nail you, and knock your arguments from under you, and force you to bail out.. I've been shot down a few times. It was more wounded pride than anything. The one thing you really don't want is for the other guy to see that he's nailed you. You don't want him to see your humiliation.
Anyone can sign up. They don't have to be young. And women are the equal of men. You have to have some basic flying skills though. You really need to spell words right. And be able to string them together into sentences with commas and full stops. Keep it simple. Don't use a long word where a short one will do. Read George Orwell. Make it up as you go along. You can't cut and paste your way out of a dogfight.
I can hardly call myself a veteran. I've just managed to survive so far. I go out on patrol most days. I fire off a few bullets. I hardly ever hit anything.
I just want this war to be over. And to be able to live my life the way I want to live it, rather than the way some Nazi tells me. That's all it's about, really.. Freedom. And when it's over, all I want is to be able to sit in an English pub, and drink a pint of beer, and smoke a cigarette.