Today is a rather odd day in the UK. Today is November 5th which means fireworks until late in the evening, but in practice we’ve had fireworks for the last two weeks because some people can’t wait to let them off. The last time I saw an effigy of Guy Fawkes was 20 years ago, so the bonfires are more like a fire festival and the anti-Catholic overtones are fading.
It is ironic that the neighbourhood is sounding like a war zone at a time when other people are honouring people who serve in war zones. You see, Remembrance Sunday falls at this time of the year too and other people in the neighbourhood are today heading off to Festivals of Remembrance – it seems that local Festivals are timed to be the weekend before the Festival of Remembrance in London which takes place on the day before Remembrance Sunday. I can’t say I care much for the spectacle at these Festivals which seem to have happened very recently. I can’t help thinking it was different 30 years ago. Back then people wore poppies if they chose to in the week comprising Armistice Day and Remembrance Day. Now it seems to have been stretched out. There seems to be a Poppy Season, just as we now seem to have a Firework Season. Celebrities get criticised if they aren’t wearing a poppy publicly by some point during October.
I will continue to do what I have always done. I won’t judge anybody who wears a poppy of any given colour or goes to the ceremonies. I respect their right to choose – a right which was the result of many sacrificed lives both military and civilian which is something I reflect on a lot at this time of the year. But on poppies and for that matter any other charity emblem I am staying strictly neutral. I will observe Remembrance as I have done for a long time – quietly and simply on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I will remember all the fallen in all conflict – military or civilian. I will continue to hope for and try to work towards a less violent world.