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Every now and then we do a quick run down to the “shops” if only to get out of the house to stop from going stir crazy. On the way you drive past those crossed swords. And if you want to run the gauntlet of contractors and their armoured vehicles and the military parked in front of the swords you can drive in and wander around the grandstand that Saddam made his own, after his own peculiar fashion. Incidentally the “speed hump” directly under the swords is comprised of dozens of helmets set in concrete. I assume they are the same as those clustered at each sword grip, once worn by Iranian soldiers. Parading soldiers and military vehicles would have once paraded over these helmets, an appropriate gesture in the minds of Saddam and his friends I guess. Apart from the single vehicle here no one pays the place any attention. Its been vandalised. It’s a hot and bleak and sterile place. None of the locals sit around in any of the shade, unlike the grounds of the tomb of the unknown warrior just down the road. It is as if they spurn it on purpose. For here he used to stand, their very own Ozymandias daring them and the rest of us to defy him. “Look on my works ye mighty and despair.” Now we look and no, we don’t despair. Now the place echoes to his ghost and people will have none of it except those like me who briefly visit and wonder at how fleeting our claims on this life can be. That is about as much despair as he invokes in us right now. Boundless and bare the sands do indeed stretch far away. Just as well when you consider his legacy to this place.