Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Enforced poppy mania?

wopop-043Each year as Remembrance Day approaches the British Legion makes ever greater efforts to get people to buy and wear red poppies.  Poppy-sellers abound at London stations (over 30, including servicemen in uniform, were counted at Victoria one day last week). Each Underground station has at least one poster exhorting people to buy poppies.

Also there has been a tendency to decorate public places with large poppies.  At Woldingham, Surrey, such poppies are placed at regular intervals around the village, each one having details of a service-person who died in the line of duty attached to its support pole, and, on, 2 November, a British Legion flag, complete with poppy symbol flew on the church’s tower.  Woldingham is an upmarket, and one assumes conservative, area, but poppies also decorate town centres in less salubrious areas, such as Tooting Broadway in the London Borough of Wandsworth, and Rainham in the London Borough of Havering.

In what seems to be a synthetic ‘outrage’, much news time has been devoted to the banning by FIFA of the wearing of poppies  by the England and Scotland football teams at a match on Armistice Day, 11 November.  Surely if the players felt that strongly about showing their ‘respect’ they would simply refuse to play on the day.

Thus people are being pressurized to conform and wear red poppies. (A friend who lives in Bermondsey, London Borough of Southwark, who would prefer to wear a white poppy, does not feel brave enough to do so).

Particularly distasteful are British Legion advertisements which show service-people injured in recent conflicts, telling us how the need continues.  One gets the impression that the Legion wants conflicts to continue so that it can stay in business; it would be disappointed if a year passed without a service-person being killed or injured.

Comments would be appreciated.

Addendum, 16 November 2016: The Woldingham poppies remain on display, though the British Legion flag is no longer flying on the church tower.

Image:  Woldingham, Surrey, 2 November 2016.

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