A Well Travelled Poppy …
The central ritual throughout the Commonwealth is a stylized night vigil. The Last Post was the common bugle call at the close of the military day, and the Rouse was the first call of the morning. For military purposes, the traditional night vigil over the slain was not just to ensure they were indeed dead and not unconscious or in a coma, but also to guard them from being mutilated or despoiled by the enemy, or dragged off by scavengers. This makes the ritual more than just an act of remembrance but also a pledge to guard the honour of war dead. The act is enhanced by the use of dedicated cenotaphs (literally Greek for “empty tomb”) and the laying of wreaths—the traditional means of signalling high honours in ancient Greece and Rome. (from Wikipedia)
The Bugle call “The Last Post” makes me shiver every time I hear it and brings tears unbidden to my eyes … I suspect there is something in the musical tone of a bugle that causes this effect. I was in Dundee this morning in time to see the parade stood to attention, the colours lowered and the Last Post blown and then to hear these words which also affect me:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
I am sure many of you know the ceremony and have your own moments of poignancy but I just wanted to share mine. I was heartened to see a good crowd observe the parade and as the photo at the top shows the dignitaries in every walk of like in Dundee honoured the memory of our war heroes. However I was saddened too – not by what we were there to do but by people who could not observe the silence or have their children do so. I know it is easy to criticise but as a youngster I grew up attending church and during all solemn occasions I was expected to behave appropriately.
I was stood next to a woman, her child and the puppy. The puppy was being allowed to drag to the end of its lead and generally being a nuisance. The puppy yipped during the two minute silence – I found that okay it was the woman smacking it and telling it to be quiet and she “wasn’t having it” that upset me. Another child in a pushchair dropped a toy during the silence; instead of leaving it for a moment Mum picked it up, dropped it herself and then made a fuss to try and return it to the child. Another pair of women with a pushchair came and stood right next to me – I quietly moved around behind them to have more space from the disruptions … they then moved and stood in front of me. All this time the wreaths were being laid and there was nothing to see but it was generally disrespectful behaviour. I totally support socialising young puppies but that was not the occasion; I get that young children get easily bored but if you cannot make your child stand or sit quietly for 10 minutes then please step well to the side or back OR take them right to the front and quietly explain to them what they are observing.
Before I got to the parade I delivered Lucky Pebble number 2 … was it indeed lucky? I will reveal all later. However it started off by generating lots of loud laughter throughout the entire journey to Dundee so it had started working it’s magic already at least! After the parade there was a short delay while the buses caught up from the High Street being closed for the parade. I stopped off in an independent coffee shop that looks lovely from the outside but to be honest looked fairly coffee shop standard inside – although they did have a menu board with the ‘stew of the day’ which is not something one normally associates with coffee shops! The latte was good and I managed to make myself useful by answering a man’s questions as to the time but I wasn’t encouraged to linger by a pleasing atmosphere …
I caught the 73 to Monifieth in the hope that being Remembrance Sunday the red flag may not be flying at Buddon Ness … sadly it was so I travelled towards the Ferry instead.
I walked to the Ferry and had a cup of Early Grey and my fruit and deliberated on whether to go back for the 4pm bus (not one of my most favourite drivers … drives like a rally driver which is not comfy in a double decker bus) or wait until the 17:20 … I was starting to feel chilly (it was not warm like last Sunday) so I headed back to Dundee on the 73 with a black and white cow (a child wearing one of those fur hats that are all the rage) as well as two people having conversations on the mobile phones at the same time. The only thing I think is more antisocial on a bus than lengthy gushy over loud phone calls is people who spray their perfume, their hair product or who paint their nails so everyone gets to share the chemicals!
Back in Dundee I went to take the photographs of the poppy wreaths. One of the poppies had come adrift so I rescued it and tucked it into one of the wreaths.
I mooched slowly back to the bus station to wait on the 20. One of the bingo buddies came to chat – he doesn’t play bingo and after he has watched a wee while he goes off to look at the shops. We talked about how independent he is and how he feels lucky that in his community everyone knows him and talks to him but he has experienced unkindness n workplaces because of his disability. It takes courage to be honest about the way folk treat one – it takes no courage at all to be mean to people who are less able to stand up for themselves – it is cowardly. This young man is exactly the sort of individual I would be proud to have working in my business; ensuring that he is always treated with respect and honesty and not made a fool of as he described it.
I feel humbled that he, the gentleman who spoke about his work placement to me on Wednesday, as well as others, choose to talk with me. I rarely initiate these conversations and I ask few questions, allowing them to tell me what they wish to. I was also interested to note that the Support Worker who I have witnessed on several occasions on different buses recognised me today and said hello … he was working with the young lad who is so engaging with a lovely smile when he makes eye contact but who I think is probably locked in a lonely world through autism and with very limited if any verbal communication.
So you wish to know if the pebble was lucky? well I was told the new keeper of the stane was going to return it to me since he did not win today … when the stane keepers were both there I told them the story behind “wishing you enough” and that clearly the first pebble had done what was needed because the prize was just enough and so that made me think that the second pebble had not resulted in a win today because it’s keeper did not need anything just now. He thought for a moment and replied that there was nothing he needed immediately – or nothing that money could buy; he hopes to live for five years, free enough of his dementia and other conditions, so his grandchild is of an age where he can know him.
The other question you are possibly asking is did I achieve my goal of walking 50 miles this week? Yes I did and the Poppy managed not to get lost although she is very curly and battered. I managed to flatten her a little for her portrait as she retires to my computer desk for a rest. Why did I set this goal? well in the past few weeks I had been stuck hovering between 35 and 40 miles of walking … I couldn’t get past the invisible barrier so I set a higher distance to try and ‘wish me enough’ stamina, health, determination and serenity to go after that goal.
I am proud of myself. My foot is still sore – but it is more like a bruise on my heel now than pain and constant cramps; the other leg muscles are still tight but nowhere near as bad as they were. The only walk that was a real struggle this week was the last mile on Wednesday; which was down to the blister on my toe more than anything. I won’t be trying to make it 50 miles again this week but I will be after keeping it high enough distances to keep my foot healing and I need to think about how I can keep up with the exercise as winter closes in and the walking will be more limited.
So another week draws to a close, lots more doggy friends, lots more conversations, lots more walked miles and slightly fewer bus miles (mostly thanks to the early running driver leaving me to miss those onward services or be delayed). And what about next week? well I’ll have to see. In the meantime this wishing you enough business is powerful magic – why don’t you try it this week? You could even come back and leave a comment with the outcomes – I would be interested to hear.