War

As ever at this time of year, it is Remembrance weekend. It is a time to wear your poppy with pride, and remember those who gave their lives in two world wars for our freedom. This year, of course, is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Well, this is what we are told. Other people, including myself, have different opinions, but cannot express them because the resultant threats and hate mail are just not wanted.

This year there is a white poppy. Rather than the red, which is, if you like, a celebration of war, it is a pacifist symbol, worn by people who are anti-war and yet still wish to remember those who gave their lives.

You can see more about it here: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/local-news/people-wear-white-poppies-what-2202488

It has caused some controversy. People who appear on television are expected to wear red poppies. If they choose to not wear a poppy, they get abuse. I am told, but I can find no evidence of this, that white poppies are generally banned on tv and elsewhere. Wearers have been told that it is disrespectful.

The BBC has certainly banned presenters on the international news services from wearing poppies (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1361358/BBC-defends-ban-on-TV-presenters-wearing-poppies.html). It is a UK thing and can be deeply offensive to other countries.

There are a lot of films that celebrate war. One film that certainly does not is Oh! What a Lovely War. Sadly, I have never seen the stage play on which is is based (but here is a version of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCqEemad4gc). As far as I am aware, it shows more than any other film what happened during WWI, the futility of war and the conditions the troops lived in. It is a fantasy, but the events and the words of senior people are taken from true records.

I first saw this when it came out in the late 1960s, on a school O level History trip. Our History teacher hated it: “Too anti-war”, he said.

We know that politicians like war. A war unites a country. It distracts people from the other bad things in their lives. WWI estimates for deaths say 16 million.

Fire!!

So, it’s November, another year nearly gone.

For those who are visitors from other worlds, let me tell you a few things about this time of year.

We don’t really do Halloween. We, some families do, and you will see skulls and pumpkins around, but mostly not.

We do do Bonfire Night. November 5th. Fireworks and a big bonfire.

When I was little, we had our own, as did most families. They were generally disappointing and also somewhat unsafe, so I think most people go for one of the public ‘organised’ events, like Alexandra Palace. As the big day is a school day, I imagine most events will be this weekend. A quick look online will help. I haven’t looked, as I am elsewhere anyway, but down by the Thames is often good.

Kiddies used to make a pretend man, a ‘Guy’, who would get burned, based on Guy Fawkes. They would ask for a “penny for the Guy”, but you don’t see that any more (if you do, and they have made an effort, you can give them some change). If you don’t know what it all celebrates, look here.

At the end of Novenmber, the USA celebrates Thanksgiving. You pig out, get drunk, eat lots of turkey and watch sports on tv. Here in the UK, we don’t celebrate American Thanksgiving, or anything. If you are a visitor to the UK, you won’t find anything special going on except possibly in American restaurants. Please don’t say “Happy Thanksgiving” to Brits. We don’t do it. We have nothing to give thanks for, not even Brexit.

We do celebrate Christmas. We pig out, get drunk and watch lots of tv. Then Boxing Day and the New Year (it’s singular, not plural, ok?).

Puzzle

A great delicacy in the UK is fried bread.

You fry a slice on one side, then turn it over to do the other side.

In my pan I can do one side each of two slices at one time.

To cook a side properly takes one minute.

How long does it take to do three slices of bread on both sides?