Andi Ware On: Why I won’t be wearing a Poppy this November

Once again we have reached that time of year where we are asked to remember our fallen service men and women, when the sepia tone of November is contrasted with the blood red of paper poppies. In the coming weeks we will see countless poppies fastened to the lapels of our politicians, newsreaders and business leaders, but not mine. Once again I will neglect to wear a poppy this year and as always my reasons for doing so will be largely misunderstood. I have in the past been accused by friends and colleagues as lacking respect or possessing a degree of impertinence. That truth is that neither is true. There are a number of reasons why I refuse to pin a small paper flower to my lapel each year but a lack of respect of acknowledgement of the sacrifice of others are not one of those.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, a fact that will no doubt make this year’s remembrance that little more emotionally charged. In acknowledgment of this the Government pledged to spend around £50 million marking the occasion. The sentiment of all ceremonies and monuments are to remind us that the 1914-1918 conflict was a fight for freedom and democracy. I find this hard to swallow. Many of those that died in that horrendous war did not know real freedom because they lived in abject poverty and were never truly represented by members of parliament. The working classes (who made up 80% of Britain’s population in 1913) were all too often forced into enlisting by propaganda or were press-ganged by employers. For those young men the notion of freedom and democracy was an incomprehensible concept.

Some years ago when I first read Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists I was struck by an acute sense of sadness. Not only was it the desperation of the protagonists in Tressell’s turn of the century tale of the woes of working men in England, but it was also the understanding that many of these characters (the novel is based on Robert Noonan’s real life experience as a painter and decorator in Hastings) would face the horrific great war just a couple of years after the book’s conclusion. For me the poppy is a reminder of the misinterpretation of WW1, that it was somehow a noble war in the name of freedom and democracy. For those young men the notion of freedom and democracy was an incomprehensible concept.

It is a curious symbol, the poppy. In the last decade or so it appears to have been elevated into something transcendental. The phenomena of poppy burning which has led to arrests under the Malicious Communications Act seem to have elevated the simple poppy, sold by children and war veterans, to a higher status. The image of the burning poppy seems to be an insult on our very being. It is my argument that we have become so obsessed by the protection of this sacred symbol that we have neglected to recognise its true meaning. Could it be that our protestation over the burning or defacing of poppies is actually a manifestation of guilt? It is my argument that as a society we have become so removed from the real sacrifice made by those that have died in past conflicts that the poppy is worn with pride but worn in lieu of any empathy. The wearing of the poppy for many is the equivalent of hitting the Like icon on social networking sites. By Liking something we feel that we are displaying a certain kinship. Be it with a sentiment, emotion, cause or charity this simple act of tapping a keyboard has replaced solidarity in the internet age.

For some time my wife has been bothered, or rather incensed by the fact that in England young women are not offered a screening for Ovarian Cancer (a procedure that should take place for young women under the age of 21 or when they become sexually active) whereas screenings are offered in Scotland. Like many she has subscribed to pages on social media showing support for women who have died at a tragically young age due to the illness. Recently I suggested that she inquire on a social media site whether those who had Liked a page dedicated to raising awareness of cervical cancer would be willing to go on a march. She did not receive one response. It appears that political activism in our society has been reduced to Liking a page on a social media site or posting a one line comment. For me the wearing of the poppy occupies the same space. It is worn in lieu of something real such as genuine emotion.

So this year rather than wearing a poppy I shall take some time out to imagine what life in a trench might have been like, or what seeing off a relative (I have two brothers both of similar age to many service men and women) who would never return. I shall do this because this is a time for remembrance and not symbolism.

Xavier DwyerAndi Ware is 33 years-old, married and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, But You Can “Like” It On Facebook by Allen Miles

Man: “I heard you quit your job?”

Isaac: “Yeah, a real self-destructive impulse. You know, I want
to write a book, so I, so I … Has anybody read that
Nazis are going to march in New Jersey, you know? I
read this in the newspaper, we should go down there, get
some guys together, you know, get some bricks and
baseball bats and really explain things to them.”

Man: “There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed
page of the Times. It is devastating.”

Isaac: “Well, well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but
bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the
point.”

Woman: “Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical
force.”

Isaac: “No, physical force is always better with nazis. Cos
it’s hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots.”

That is a quote from Woody Allen’s 1979 masterpiece Manhattan. It flies into my head every time I watch the news or Question Time or Newsnight or walk round Hull city centre. The people that run this country are not Nazis, they have learnt to disguise their racism, but they haven’t learnt to disguise their elitism, their horrific apathy towards the working-class, and their disgusting self-serving attitude.

These people are clearly utterly fucking clueless on how to run the country. They do not represent the people of England, rather they are simply rewarding the people who voted them in. The party is divided within itself, with all the inside talk of “grubby dealings,” “aggressive homosexuals” and “swivel-eyed loons,” and everyone is utterly terrified of Boris Johnson. I am thirty-one years-old and I work for the NHS. I have been part of the workforce since I was 16, and have spent only eight months out of work in all that time. And because of the feckless attitude of this bunch of bastards, I have never known an atmosphere at work to be as bad as it is now. We all know this government are aiming to disband the NHS as soon as they possibly can, as they will with every public sector if they stay in power, which they will, for three reasons. One – there are lots of working class tories who drive white vans and live in suburbs who made their prosperous livings under Blair and have now decided they are old enough to read the Daily Mail and want a government who will look after their money. You’ve seen these people. They are builders or plumbers with shaved heads. Their wives are horrific orange women who drive their only child 500 yards to school in an Range Rover then spend the rest of their day picking out which cafe-bars and tanning salons really define them as a person. Two -Ed Milliband is no-one’s idea of a Political leader, and frankly looks more like someone who would compere a Star Trek convention and most importantly; Three – for all the carping, for all the expletives howled at the screen every time you see Michael Gove’s fatuous flapping omelette of a face, for every wage slip you open and wonder why you seem to have less and less money to spare each month, deep down the fundamental problem is no-one gives a flying fuck.

This man is a despicable atrocity of a human being.

This man is a despicable atrocity of a human being.

The people who run this country have, in the past few years, used taxpayer’s money to bail out banks who have speculated and lost and put the country in mountains of debt. Their mistake, we foot the bill. They have made going to university almost impossible for people who don’t have rich mummies and daddies. They have, as I’ve said already, hacked and slashed at practically every public sector industry, they have presided over the Levinson enquiry and the expenses scandal, and they also had to deal with the information coming to light that their own party spent twenty three years covering the murders of ninety-six innocent people at Hillsborough. On top of all that they gave the possibly the most hated-Briton of all time a nigh-on state funeral. And what was the issue that you, the great British Public got most upset about in the past few years? That it will now cost you twenty pence to get your fucking pasty warmed up.

Is this country that fucking apathetic these days? Really? Why the hell aren’t people charging down Downing Street with Molotov cocktails and flaming staffs to put the shits up this party of real life Alan B’Stards? I’ll tell you why, because its much easier to read about John Terry banging Wayne Bridge’s missus, or tweet about which act was best on Britain’s Got Lethargy, or play your FUCKING CANDY CRUSH!

The good old USA may be the most ludicrous country in the history of civilisation but when the American intelligentsia had enough of George W Bush’s monstrous regime they did not muck about. Prominent left-wing figures such as Seth McFarlane, Jesse Ventura and George Carlin all went berserk during public appearances about his idiotic policies; Andre 3000 and Bruce Springsteen were literally man-handling people into voting booths, and the most famous person in the world did this. Our response to any sort of political controversy is to wheel out Billy Bragg to 200 people in a civic hall, or watch George Galloway spit out one of his diatribes which no-one will take seriously because he once pretended to be a cat on Celebrity Big Brother. The Guardian, once the paper of choice for chest-beating radicals now offers a supplement in which you can find out how to perfectly cook a pheasant and where you can buy a cheese knife for less than £100. It will also furnish you with articles about authors who’s books are bought by imbeciles who idolize Phoebe out of Friends and think its acceptable to give wind-chimes as Christmas presents. They all live in the country you know, and do their writings in picturesque hollow trees while squirrels hop about. BOLLOCKS!!! In the 80s Kinnock and Scargill used to fall out of political debates actually physically brawling over disagreements in policy. Today the Labour party’s top-boys ponce out of there on their smart phones, smirk and show each other how some “wag” has posted a picture of Cameron on Facebook and written “‘Like’ if you think this man is a prick.” Excellent. That’s going to make all the fucking difference.

I've heard he's got a Return Of The Jedi duvet cover.

I’ve heard he’s got a Return Of The Jedi duvet cover.

Look around you. Look at the kids, look at the teenagers and look at the students. Where’s the next Joe Strummer or Jerry Dammers or Jimmy McGovern going to come from? No-one seems to be able to rouse themselves enough to realise that the country is on it’s arse. Socially this country is in the worst place it’s been for thirty years, and financially its worse than anytime since 1931. The NHS is going to die, teachers will soon be taking classes of forty-five kids and somehow, a very small group of men will be making a huge profit from all of it. On David Cameron’s front bench, there are fifteen men who went to the same school as him. Rebecca Brooks is a millionaire. Rupert Murdoch rules the world. Don’t worry about it though, don’t take action, just turn The Voice on and look at Jessie J scratch her yeast infection, or on the other side you can watch Michael McIntyre provide witty social discourse by running round in big circles on a stage. Also, think about voting for UKIP and play your Candy Crush. Someone’s going to start a campaign to change the “Great” in Great Britain to “Flaccid.” Don’t forget to ‘like’ it on Facebook.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 23 month-old daughter who is into The Ramones. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx