I had a birthday this week – twenty one for the third time around, thank you for asking. I try and do something memorable each year and this year it just had to be a visit to the Tower of London to see the poppies. Trips to London are rare for me as disability makes them both exhausting and expensive as I need to use taxis. So all I did was get to Kings Cross, go to the Tower, see the poppies and hear the Last Post and then reverse my journey which might seem like a lot of effort for not very much.
But it was so worthwhile. I knew there would be 888,246 poppies but had never really thought how many poppies that would be! I’ve seen the pictures but they are all of the same part of the moat but in reality they are spread out very wide. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear. The acoustics are pretty awful but as the 180 names were read out I listened to the names of the regiments and heard places from throughout these islands and beyond. Just 180 names are read each night but that is 180 lives which were sacrificed and they are a mere fraction of the total.
I was surprised that the people standing next to me were German and I was glad to see them there but didn’t like to ask how they were feeling. After all eleven German spies were shot in that same Tower in the Great War. Last year I visited the German war cemetery in Flanders, having already visited Tyne Cot and the Menin Gate at Ypres. History is written by the victors but the defeated are also dead.