Archive for November 9, 2019

No More Poppies

Posted in Biographical, History, Politics with tags , , , , on November 9, 2019 by telescoper

Over the years I have written quite a few pieces on this blog, around the time of Remembrance Sunday, about the wearing of a poppy, the last being in 2016. I have worn a poppy at this time of year for most of my adult life, but in 2017 I decided to stop.

For one thing, there is no pressure to wear a poppy here in Ireland. Indeed, many Irish people see the poppy mainly as a symbol of British militarism and colonial oppression. At a concert to mark the Armistice last year I saw only a few audience members wearing a poppy, and most of them were the shamrock version commemorating the sacrifice of Irish soldiers during the Great War.

But I don’t think I’ve ever really been that susceptible to peer pressure, so that’s not the main reason for my not wearing a poppy. The main reason is that over the past couple of years the poppy has been appropriated by the likes of racist thug, career criminal and founder-member of the EDL, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (also known as Tommy Robinson):

I simply cannot bring myself to wear the same badge as this horrible racist gobshite, nor can I stand the hypocrisy of those politicians who make a show of wearing it while happily encouraging the rise of nationalism that caused all the suffering just a century ago. The message of the poppy is supposed to be `Lest We Forget’. I’m afraid far too many have already forgotten.

I have a lecture on Monday 11th November at 11am, when the traditional two minutes’ silence to mark the 1918 armistice is observed. Fortunately, lectures at Maynooth run from five past the hour until five to, so I will be able to observe this on my own before I start the lecture. But I won’t be wearing a poppy.

Is it disrespectful to the war dead to refuse to wear a poppy? No, of course it isn’t. What is disrespectful to them is to seek to reoeat the mistakes that led to wars in the first place.

Back to Ireland

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth on November 9, 2019 by telescoper

I’m back in a very cold and windy Maynooth after a trip to Newcastle (via London) for my Mam’s funeral. It went as well as could have been expected, though it was a difficult occasion for all concerned. It was nice to see such a good turnout, though, including several members of my family I haven’t seen for many years. The service was both simple and dignified (and entirely secular).

I’ve got a lot of things to catch up on after the few days I spent away so I don’t have time for a long post today. I did, however, want to put up a short message to express my gratitude to everyone who has contacted me privately to offer condolences and good wishes. All your messages mean a lot, so thank you all. That also goes for all the friends I met at the RAS Club on Friday evening, all of whom were very supportive.

Now, I have three examination papers and two problem sets to write by Monday, five lectures to prepare for next week, and a lengthy review article about the Hubble constant to finish by Friday so I’d best get on with it. Moping about isn’t going to help.