There were plenty of poppies on view in Oxford last week, but most of them weren’t being worn.
There was a themed display in the Oxfam bookshop, a tasteful display in a very posh shop in Turl Street, and an astonishingly tasteless display in a newsagent’s window (“supporting Jack FM and Glide FM’s Giant Poppy appeal”). Even the newspaper in the dentist’s waiting room sported a poppy.
I did a survey by walking the length of Queen Street and Cornmarket and spotted twenty people (no more than 10%) wearing poppies. Even allowing for foreign visitors and the poppy-unfriendly design of modern coats, the contrast between real people and anyone who’s appeared on a TV screen since the middle of October was, to say the least, striking.
Yesterday (Sunday), I attended a Remembrance Day service. Here, there were eight poppies, but three of them were attached to candles on the table at the front. Even the speaker, a former soldier, used the word “ambivalence” and reminded us that all armies commit atrocities.
It seems that I’m not the only one not signing up to the establishment’s version of history.