It's that time of year again, but this time it's the 100th. They have put up the Christmas decorations outside our compact... oh you know what I am saying... but we have a whole 2 minutes of silence to go through before the boy-band actually switch them on. Sorry, Sir Cliff - maybe next year.
I heard this morning that there is a thriving industry that has developed around the fields in Northern France where they all got blown to bits, and it sells stuff to battlefield tourists, including chocolate poppies.
Having booked yourself into a hotel close to the sites, you may like to order a 'Passchendaele' beer (see above - it really exists) that asks you to observe a minute of silence after you have opened it and before you begin to drink it. If they served that in my pub, the silence would be deafening.
Of all the tonnage of ordnance which landed both sides of No Man's Land during those 4 years, a quarter of it failed to explode and, every year, farmers plough up 150 tons of it which they stack up in a corner as far away from their tractors as they can. There's just too much to shove into a bucket of water until the army turns up.
The journalist read out a note attached to a bunch of flowers which was left by a German tourist in Ypres, and it read, "I am sorry, but I don't understand what you all died for." He/she is not alone in their ignorance.
The platitudes become more and more hollow as the years go by, and if it were not so incomprehensibly tragic, 'The War To End All Wars' would be a joke. What cynical idiot came up with that bit of sloganry? 'Lest We Forget' is another brilliant excuse.
T2, my 54 year-old German mate, asked me when he was here a week ago, what was the meaning of all those red flowers that people were wearing in their button-holes?
Yesterday they arrested two maniacs who were - allegedly - planning to knife the Queen to death tomorrow as she laid the first wreath against the memorial.
Every year when that cannon goes off near the Cenotaph, I - for one - become a little more angry, but a little more quiet.
I went out after writing the above, and saw this. Good old Daily Mail, riding on the back of the Tower of London. I thought that the money from poppies went to soldier's charities?