Remembrance Day

Our Remembrance Day service started with the blessing of a new standard for the village Brownie troop, done with an abundance of pomp and circumstance by Godfrey the vicar. After church, the entire congregation of thirty or so filed down the lane to the war memorial on the green for the act of remembrance. Around the British isles many others gathered at village greens just like this to speak the names of the war dead and observe two minutes of silence.

A retired local serviceman read aloud the names of those who died from this village and its sister village up the road, then placed a wreath of poppies on the memorial, followed by another from the Brownies. There were no more than twenty or so war dead, but these are tiny villages and the sense of loss must have been overwhelming. Ninety years later, there were still tears. “The Last Post” (the British version of “Taps” and equally as moving) played from a portable CD player propped on a chair outside the house at the top of the green. Even the white terrier accompanying his master looked solemn and sat quietly throughout.

Afterwards we went for a walk where, despite being intermittently pelted with freezing rain, we were offered two signs of hope and renewal. First was Hawling Lodge, which we’ve watched emerge from little more than a ruin over the last year. It has been beautifully restored, including a length of drystone wall where new, honeyed pieces sit alongside sections dark and chalky with age. A hill serves as one border in the back garden, and there is a door built into it that I would dearly like to open to discover what secret grotto lies within. Later, walking back by Roel Farm, a double rainbow appeared: two perfect arches over ochre fields.

Postscript: For anyone who fears political correctness has run amok, there was evidence to the contrary in the Cotswolds yesterday. A neighboring village was holding an evening Remembrance service honouring “especially those who died in the Indian Mutiny.”

I’ll stick with the Brownies.

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