November 11, 2012 2 Comments
I observed my minute’s silence a little earlier than most people today – at 10.30am to be precise. This was because I conducted this show of respect for the fallen in two world wars just before kick-off in my second football game of the season; an affair that ended Playfootball Elite 1 – 3 Ekco Munchengladbach (Southend Sunday League Cup Section B).
I am still clinging on as a referee, just. I approach my infrequent games with a little more apprehension nowadays. My political commitments leave me little time for football, and as the gap between games grows I worry whether I am still up to standard.
As for the remembrance: I have contributed to both red and white poppy funds this year. I rarely wear the poppy, and in fact when I gave to the British Legion this year I did not take one. I am not opposed to them, just not keen on wearing one. Part of this is the ubiquitous nature of them – somehow I am trying to show in my own small way that you can honour the dead without the public display.
As I have written before, my existence owes itself in many ways to the First World War. One grandfather was killed in battle in northern France, the other fled Belgium when it was invaded and fought from his new base in England. My paternal grandfather, who died at Arras aged 26, was largely unknown to my father – dad was just three years old when Arthur was killed. The death, however, had a huge impact in the days before the welfare state. My widowed grandmother and her two surviving children shared two rooms with her brother and his family in crowded conditions that defy my skills in attempting to describe. My father’s poor health (he lost all his teeth through malnutrition and went deaf following a mastoid operation, crushed a leg at fourteen that was nearly amputated, and eventually succumbed to cancer) was in no small part due to the poverty they endured. Grandmother remarried and produced three more kids.
I have Arthur’s framed picture on display at home – a remembrance of a grandfather who gave his life for his country some 42 years before I was born.