When the clock strikes 11am on Remembrance Sunday and November 11th, I bow my head and think of the stories of my grandfather; a lorry driver turned bomb disposal expert who got blown up more times than people can remember, and survived; I think of my uncle who, after having a tank dropped on him, defied doctors and learned to walk again; I think of James, a friend and childhood sweetheart who died doing the job he loved above all else. He was just 17.
What I don’t do is spend it angered by the fact politicians wear poppies, or reject the tradition of remembering the trials and tribulations of war – the good and the bad aspects – because people who work for companies whose work I don’t support like to wear them also.
It’s not show-business in any sense of the word; what’s glitzy and appealing in watching hundreds of service personnel and family marching to remember their comrades? What’s uplifting and cheery about a religious service that carries the solemn tones of a mass funeral reading?
Each person has the right to remember the dead in the way they see fit – red poppy, white poppy or even no poppy – respect it, allow it, but never, ever play politics with it.
Remembrance Sunday has no link to the budget decisions of past and present governments, it’s a tradition that has and will continue to outlive many of those in power – and I, as a young, working-class person, object to the way in which Laurie Penny has chosen to use our name to enter the ‘show business’ world of crass political point scoring.