I had forgotten it was Remembrance Sunday when I went out for my run today. This desipite the fact that I had read and commented on Diamond Geezer‘s pair of posts on the subject. Ialways forget every year, never remember to get a poppy. I think I’m blanking out the trauma of the school Remembrance day ceremonies which seemed to be designed to give you a foretaste of what it would be like if Hell ever did freeze over. Enforced attendance at the Church of Scotland service (our normal exemption on religious grounds – as Episcopalians we have a moral objection to long thunderous sermons – did not apply), a CCF parade (the irony of dressing up children as soldiers to commemorate the war dead being entirely lost on the school), freezing cold winds coming straight from the Highlands or Siberia, whichever was colder, the horror of our uniform hat, and the murdering of the Last Post by the school bugler followed by two minutes to look forward in silence to the approaching murder of Reveille – none of this was conducive to contemplation of anything at all.
It all seemed pretty remote then. It all seems so much more relevant and close to home now. So I felt a tinge of guilt at being seen pounding down the South Bank the wrong way, poppyless, by a trickle of sprightly and upright old men in their uniforms and medals, heading towards the Cenotaph. Too late to get a poppy now, and services are not for me. So I did what I could to commemorate and acknowledged them all as I passed with a raise of my hand and a nod of greeting. Every single one of them greeted me back – most with a smile – and the oldest of all gave me a wink and a delighted grin. It certainly made my morning. I hope it helped make his.