|The opium wars
||[Nov. 12th, 2016|07:31 pm]
There's a book post sitting on the back burner, failing to make progress, and another at the conceptual stage. But the cold is still hanging around, and the plantar fasciitis flared up again, and I'm sleeping badly. I felt well enough to go to Sainsbury's this morning, which is just as well, because supplies were low - but then slept through this afternoon, waking only to cough. It's a very annoying sort of cough, which responds to a tickle in the throat by scratching somewhere else entirely. Failing coherence, have a handful of the random thoughts which have been chasing each other round my mind.
We seem to have hit peak absurdity this Remembrance Season -
- what? Oh, yes, we now have a Remembrance Season. Once upon a time when I was little, there was Remembrance Sunday, which was a military event not observed by my family, in which generals and politicians gathered at the Cenotaph. Poppy sellers sold poppies in the streets, and you could buy one, in which case you were donating to a charity which looked after ex-service people because the government was failing in its responsabilities, and in return for your donation you got a paper flower which looked very much like a poppy. Or not. Your choice. Later the peace movement started to sell white poppies, but this was controversial, even if you wore one of each. Then - when was this? maybe around the turn of the century? - there was a shift to observing Armistice Day, with a minute's silence, a moment of personal reflection on the 11th itself. But at the moment we have, if not a season, Remembrance Weekend (an expression I certainly heard on the radio this morning), and it's all about the poppies.
This year, two matching absurdities have collided. On the one hand, two national football teams want to wear poppies during their match, but have been told by FIFA that this isn't permitted (no political emblems allowed). Cue outrage. My initial reaction was surprise that a match would be scheduled for Armistice Day, but they were playing in the evening, so no actual conflict. What this does illustrate, though, is that the poppy is not a sign of remembrance but a substitute for it: the act of remembrance has been completed when the poppy is added to the clothing, and the footballers are now free to concentrate on the game.
Further proof comes from the matching outrage at the Cookie Monster's appearance on the One Show: this time it's not the absence but the presence of the poppy that's wrong. Because apparently there are people who hadn't realised that the wall-to-wall, no exceptions, poppy wearing on our televisions is achieved not by national mindfulness but by the vigilance of the wardrobe department. Remembrance has been outsourced to the professionals.
The ubiquity of the poppy indicates not memory but oblivion: which is apt enough.