The UK has officially lost the plot. It seems as though no-one is allowed to do anything or go anywhere without wearing a poppy. The BBC physically stitches one on to anyone who appears on television, and has been for over 2 weeks before today, Armistice Day.
Similarly the madness over footballers wearing poppies during matches and the furious bile directed at FIFA seems insane, considering it's never been a problem before now. It's not just about wearing them - players are having poppies stitched in to the shirts and even their boots. The worst thing about this issue is how it is driven by the British public - oh the Great British Public.
I have already described my feelings about poppies, white poppies, and never-ending silences, and that's not really changed. But I feel it is worth commenting on the sinister atmosphere and fears of being "unpatriotic", and the accusers who drive this fear. Not Sinister with a capital S like a government conspiracy or a secret plan to invade another country, but sinister in the low, ugly, uncomfortable sense.
I was glad to see a collection tin on a cafe counter the other day, rather than around someone's neck - I put in a pound, because the poppy appeal is a worthy cause regardless of what our soliders do and are sent to do. But I did not take a poppy, because I do not wish to wear one. That is a choice and a freedom - that we are so often reminded about - that our military men and women died to protect.*
"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
*This is a nonsense in regard to wars like Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, The Falklands etc. - these soldiers fought and died because of politics and because their political leaders demanded it. But I will accept it is the case in World War II and possibly World War I.