Sunday, 14 November 2010


An American blogger was asking what all the red poppies were about over on John's blog just now, and it was explained to him. As I write this, a memorial service is taking place at the Cenotaph, London, and Elgar's 'Nimrod' has just been played by a military brass band. A flipping great cannon will go off here in Bath in about 3 minutes, and will go off again 2 minutes later. Funny, isn't it? You need two huge explosions to punctuate two minutes of silence, sandwiched in the middle. There will be a parade through town by all the armed services, including some old veterans who may have been there in 1945 - not many of them left now.

'Nimrod' always does it for me, even when it is played by a brass band. Very emotional.

On a slightly lighter note, I cannot help thinking that the Sergeant Major is shouting out "BASTARDS!" at the beginning of this video clip... Well, I suppose he knows his men better than anyone else.


  1. I was wrong about the cannon - that only happens on the 11th of the 11th, so the pigeons here were undisturbed.

    I truly believe that nobody does 'pomp and ceremony' better than the British. Somehow we manage to pull it off with out any hint of ridiculousness - unlike some banana republics I could think about.

    All those hats that the Coldstream Guards are wearing - it is only recently that they have not been made from real bearskin, and most of the existing ones still are. That's about one bear per hat. They cost about £1000 each, and that's before you start kitting each man out with the rest of the gear, like the long coats, the boots, the gold braid, the swords, etc. etc. And all of it is for show. Let's hope the pomp can survive the cut-backs in the armed services, and let's hope the bears have survived the time of plenty.

  2. A Digger gave me a Flanders poppy the other day outside the supermarket, as they do every year about this time.
    Flanders poppies burst into flower in Australia, usually on or about November the 11th. It it always the hailing of Spring in the south.
    We have a strong connection to Remembrance Day and the massive amount of Diggers who died on European soil. But the poppies always make me wonder - is it a strange coincidence about the poppies flowering here at this time and Remembrance Day? Or is it organised just for us?

  3. I was just watching the parade, and thinking how wonderful it was. I lost rather a lot of potential uncles in the 1st bash, so I always like to imagine how they might have been.

  4. Diggers are more generous than the Brit equivalent by the sound of it, Sarah T. We have to buy ours (and I don't begrudge it!) Yes, a hell of a lot of Australians served in both wars, as did Canadians, Americans and even Maoris - the were Maori units sent to Crete in the invasion. There are Fijian troops in Basra right now - something I only just found out today. We have to wait another 6 months before we get the real Flanders poppies - must be geographical.

    Today, one of the women that delivered Spitfires from the factory laid a wreath. They used to give these young women an instruction manual for whatever plane they were flying, then send them out in a plane without instruments, to take them to the place where they were to be fitted. For this reason, they never received instrument training, and often found themselves flying in thick fog, trying not to hit the Cotswold Hills by peering through the windscreen and guessing where the land was.

  5. I attended the Remembrance Service today in our little church at Westbury, Shropshire. A local man from the armed services gave a talk on what it is really like out there. He had served in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ireland. You could have heard a pin drop.

  6. All our celebrations have stopped now, as days have already passed. I like watching yours. As for other celebrations, is England gearing up for another royal wedding?

  7. I've no plans to marry into the Windsors, Amy, but you may be right. There are 2 eligible young bucks up for grabs at the moment, but you would have to be mad to go for them. There is no media frenzy about it.

  8. Hey - how come you knew about it 48 hours before us Brits, Amy?