by Denzil McDaniel 

The principal of a school in Brighton has banned the children from playing the game of tag; apparently it’s “too rough” for the little darlings.

Aside from the fact that I always called the game “tig”, I found it a bit ironic that the school concerned bore the name of Rudyard Kipling. He wrote the poem “If” which exhorted his son to embrace certain qualities of character to equip him for life.

And so hold on where there is nothing in you, Except the will which says to them hold on…… and you’ll be a man, my son.

I think there are many abuses and pressures we fail to protect generations of children from. But tag, hmm.

I wonder how the kids in Brighton, cosetted and protected, will face up to a tough old world when the time comes.

Is the world a nastier place now? We often think so, but history is full of the evil of man’s inhumanity to man.

In this week of Remembrance of the sheer horror of war, it’s an interesting comparison. It’s not about narrow national interests, it’s the wider battle of good and evil.

Words of vitriol are often the weapons of choice now. The venom that faceless keyboard warriors pour on DUP election candidate Carla Lockhart in the last week is just another example of how horrible people can be, in this case clearly misogynistic.

I was also horrified to see comments from so-called soccer fans about Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean footballer Son Heung-min, who was involved in an incident recently when a sickening injury to Everton player Andre Gomes left the Spurs man visibly upset.

One so-called fan tweeted viciously calling Son, the ankle breaker….but he cried so that’s all right.

What on earth is wrong with people, that such awful comments are so commonplace.

Look down your nose at football all you like, but sometimes the game is a microcosm of society’s good and bad. At least the real football is, not the plastic Premier League corporate elite but the muck and nettles real life game.

The abuse heaped on James McClean at this time of year for failing to wear a poppy was mirrored by the chanting of IRA songs by Dundalk fans at Linfield players the other night. Why?

There are, of course, many good people in football and one of them is Peter Reid, the Everton man who won player of the year in 1985 when they won the League title.

Reid, a Scouser, is no saint and when he met Boris Johnson at a charity match some years ago, he couldn’t forget BoJo’s insult of his home city when editor of the Spectator.

Reidy let fly and told Johnson what he thought of him. “I told him he was a fat, lying tw*t and a disgrace; cowardly, he sh*t himself,” Reid told a journalist.

But in the same interview, he emotionally recalled his old team and his fondness for his manager, now deceased, Howard Kendall.

“It’s a word that doesn’t come up often among players, but it is a love,” he says of his old team mates. “There is a love there and you can’t beat love.”

Men talking about their love for each other is powerful, and a World War Two veteran, Harry Billinge told television viewers he will never forget his comrades killed in the hell of that conflict.

“Marvellous men, my generation saved the world. Normandy veterans love one another beyond the love of women,” said the 94-year-old.

Unlike the children at the Rudyard Kipling School, the rough and tumble of tag was the least of the teenage Harry’s worries when his mates were falling dead around him on the Normandy beaches.

He still recalls ships firing over their heads, Germans inland using 88 millimetre guns which “would blow you off the face of the earth.”

It’s hardly glorifying war, is it.

In fact, Harry is only too aware of war being the consequence of the battle between love and hate, and he talks passionately about the lessons that young people should learn from the “beyond comprehension of D-Day”:

“I hope they will all learn to love one another. There’s a lot of hate in the world. A lot of greed and a lot of nonsense.

“Don’t worry about that,” he adds recalling serving King George VI, a wonderful, kind man.

“He used to have a day of prayer. It’s a pity we don’t have a month of prayer because we’ve got so much to thank God for.

“We’ve been stupid, we’re so clever we blow one another up. But we don’t love one another; that’s the strongest thing on earth. Love is stronger than death. He’s coming back. Our Lord Jesus said he’d be back and He will,” Harry told a television audience of millions.

Wow! It takes an old soldier to vividly express the futility of war, and the power of love over hate.

War is sometimes necessary to defeat evil, and the fight between good and evil is a constant throughout history.

Remembrance is not, and never should be about glorifying the violence of it. And yes, some people are concerned about remembrance becoming a meaningless religious festival, with teddy bears on memorials, and the poppy becoming either a fashion item or a source of division.

But those who are remembering properly are recalling war as an abomination.

Last year was the centenary of the end of World War One, and the recollections of the suffering in the filth of the trenches were captured on images and film.

This year I watched the BBC drama series on Sunday evenings, with characters across Britain, Poland, France and Germany struggling to survive war situations.

A young Polish girl joining the Resistance and finding the strength to shoot Nazis occupying her country.

A German mother struggling to hide her epileptic daughter, knowing what they would do to her.

A young American doctor’s anguish over his black, gay lover being carted off by the Germans.

And an English pacifist’s moral dilemma after he had suffered serious mental illness from shell shock in the first war.

All personal vignettes of how they suffered.

Zec’s famous cartoon on VE Day shows a wounded soldier handing over a laurel representing victory and peace in Europe with the label “Here you are. Don’t lose it again.”

But there never seems to be true peace in the world. Wars and rumours of wars continue. Conflicts over identity or land or power or money continue in 2019 and the brutality is ever with us.

Even in our own land, our bloody past is for many their present.

Love or hate, which will win?

Harry Billinge is in no doubt which will win out in the end. Love is stronger than hate; it’s even stronger than death.