Tuesday 20 November 2018

Blood spilled in war is now a fashion accessory

Robert Fisk

I turned on the TV in my Damascus hotel room to witness a dreary sight: all the boys and girls of BBC World wearing their little poppies again. Bright red they were, with that particularly silly green leaf out of the top, and not one dared to appear on screen without it. Do these pathetic men and women know how they mock the dead?

Now, I've mentioned my dad too many times in this column. He died almost 20 years ago so, after today, I think it's time he was allowed to rest in peace. But he had strong views about wearing the poppy. He was a soldier of the Great War, Battle of Arras 1918 -- often called the Third Battle of the Somme -- and the liberation of Cambrai, along with many troops from Canada. Kaiser Wilhelm's army had charitably set the whole place on fire and he was appalled by the scorched earth policy of the retreating Germans. But of course, year after year, he would go along to the local cenotaph in Birkenhead, and later in Maidstone, where I was born 28 years after the end of his Great War, and he always wore his huge black coat, his regimental tie and his poppy.

In those days, it was a darker red, blood-red rather than BBC-red, larger than the sorrow-lite version I see on the BBC and without that ridiculous leaf. So my dad would stand and I would be next to him in my Yardley Court School blazer aged 10.

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