13 November 2010
Why I don’t wear a poppy

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1.  I don’t know what these people do.

2.  I am stingy.

3.  I don’t like charity.  This is partly because I am (as I said) stingy.  Partly because I don’t like guilt trips.  Partly because I get nothing from it.  Actually, that’s not quite true.  I rather like the Remembrance paraphernalia.  I like the sight of poppies.  I like the ceremonies, the Cenotaph, the Unknown Soldier, the Two-Minute Silence.  I think they are marvellously dignified.  (I was at Heathrow Airport a couple of years ago when it was called and, blow me down, it was observed!  Any foreigner there must have thought we were nuts.) I like the collective message that is sent out to the world at about this time: “We had two appalling wars and we have not forgotten.” Oh and the international confusion: “What are they wearing?” - it causes.  I like the fact that we share precisely the same poppy-wearing business with the Canadians (and probably a few other former colonies too).  Maybe, if the buying of the poppy were separated from the giving to charity I wouldn’t mind so much.

On this subject, Brian made some interesting points about charities a few years ago.  I am not entirely sure if I agree with him.

It occurs to me that he also made a rather good point in a speech to an Libertarian Alliance conference (this time talking about political correctness) about “package deals” (of which this is one): where along with the good stuff (being nice to black people) you get a whole load of bad stuff (speech codes, state violence etc)

4.  The black plastic centre.  This used to bear the words “Haig Fund”.  Because the appeal was in aid of the Haig Fund, the fund set up by Field Marshal Haig to aid veterans of the First World War.  About 20 years ago, at a time when the “Blackadder” school of history had managed to convince the world that the guy was a callous bungler, these words were changed to “Poppy Appeal”.  This has always struck me as an act of appalling cowardice.  And I don’t think I should be giving my money to cowards.

So, if they changed the words back would you buy a poppy? Probably not.  But if they separated the poppy from the charity I probably would.

But, Crozier, “Haig Fund” is a charity.  How can you have something that mentions a charity but isn’t actually connected to it? Errrrr.  Hmm, yes that is a bit of a hole.

But, Crozier, the Chinese went mental when they saw Dave and Co wearing poppies.  Isn’t that excuse enough? Almost.  Given that Dave has managed to anger both the Chinese and students in the same week I really should have more sympathy for the guy but the problem is I don’t think he means it.

5.  I am very suspicious of universal conventions.

Do you walk around naked? OK, there are some universal conventions I respect.  Why this one and not that one?  Dunno.  Because it feels right.  Given long enough I could probably intellectualize it but I can’t just this minute.

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  1. I was pleased that Dave told the Chinese to sod off, but it’s only a small thing.

    And he didn’t dare challenge that opium war guilt trip they tried to foist on him, which was appalling.

    Posted by mike on 14 November 2010 at 07:52pm

  2. I do wonder how many people the BBC employs to make sure that everyone who appears on screen is wearing their poppy. And if trends continue, before long the television poppy wearing will start in Easter and end on Boxing Day.

    Posted by Rob Fisher on 15 November 2010 at 07:31pm

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