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What's happening to the Poppy?

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Joined: 07 Aug 2013
Posts: 336
Location: Duns, Berwickshire

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:00 pm    Post subject: What's happening to the Poppy? Reply with quote

I attended an interesting, varied WWI-themed event in Berwickshire tonight. It included presentations by several historians and authors followed by Q&A. One of these was by an official from the National Museum, talking about the poppy past and present - interestingly, in the context of what I'll say, wearing a white 'Peace' poppy.

It seems to me that until a few years ago the only differences we ever saw in poppies was whether it had 2 petals and a green leaf, or 4 petals and no leaf making it Scottish? We all, if we wore a poppy, had a red paper one which had cost us as much as we'd wished to donate. I appreciate the pin seemed to disappear some years ago - on H&S grounds? myth? - and this year they've introduced printing on the petals, but quite honestly I don't remember seeing anyone wearing counter-poppies.

(Maybe it was different in the cities: though I did spend 5yrs in Edinburgh).

All of a sudden a few years ago 'bespoke' plus 'fashion' poppies appeared. I first recall noticing it on TV talk shows and similar, e.g. politicians. You now see a lot of people - particularly ladies - with big felt poppies, glass poppies and even jewellery poppies of varying flamboyance: some celebrities supposedly have poppies inset with precious stones as if there is a competition for the biggest, flashiest poppy.

Having never seen one in my life - I have noticed several people locally this week who have dropped the traditional poppy for a white 'Peace' poppy. On seeing some "up close" for the first time tonight I was surprised to find they are 1.5-2 times the size of the traditional poppy. Indeed, a couple of people had removed the stem from a traditional poppy and fixed the head onto the corner of a white poppy, giving altogether a rather incongruous appearance I felt. Apparently white poppies have existed in small numbers for a long time but sales - and controversy - increased this month after being publicised on the BBC.

I don't know if the implication of a boom in white poppies to promote Peace is that our traditional poppy promotes War... certainly, that has never been my feeling, and it is always said the dead of all nations in all wars are being remembered (and in that context not celebrated in any bombastic fashion).

Tonight I discovered for the first time that there are also purple poppies - in the shape of a paw - from animal rights groups and a black poppy has been introduced citing the traditional poppy as not 'representing' coloured people.

Tonight only crystallised previous observations of mine. Watching the football highlights on Saturday, managers were wearing metal poppies halved with their individual club's badges. Of course there has been previous controversy over club shirts adding poppies but others refusing to. In future there could emerge a blue poppy for Scotland (as opposed to our traditional design?) or a rainbow poppy (gay rights?). Animal rights poppy promoters have even split after "exploited animal" v "hero animal" disputes.

I'd hoped to ask the panel about this during the Q&A but sadly my question was not taken. However I'd be interested in thoughts on here:

Is this sudden rush to poppy diversity coming at the price of poppy unity? If so - will that prove good or bad? If it proves to be bad, could it be undone?

For me, the greatest strength of the poppy has been that everyone wearing one was wearing the same poppy, regardless of their means, background or politics. Flash poppies for rich people, black for black people, Club X but not Club Y, controversies about white poppies versus red, etc. seems to erode this.
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Mike Morley

Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 8663
Location: Roberton, Lanarkshire

PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Traditional red poppy man, myself, though frustrated that it is very hard to secure on modern fabrics. My question would be, where does the money go for these "other" poppies?
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Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 4991
Location: St John's Town of Dalry

PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have respect for anyone with a strongly held conviction and would defend their right to publicise their views, however I think it is totally wrong for anyone to attempt to divert a commemoration from its original intention.
Armistice day (and Remembrance Sunday) is chosen to commemorate (note: not celebrate) those killed and affected by war and it is done with a red poppy.
If anyone wants to wear a white poppy etc then by all means do so, but chose your own date to avoid a confused message and don't try and hi-jack a well established tradition. Perhaps 28th June might be more appropriate for a white poppy day, being the signing of the peace treaty in 1919?
My wife wears a crochet poppy made by local people but 'pays' for each years use with a donation in the poppy tin to 'renew' it for another year. How many others wearing brooches etc do the same?
The jingoistic tones of the past 'splendid their doom' and 'he had a good war' are long gone and the more modern view of deterrence from a position of strength thankfully usually holds sway. Speak softly and carry a big stick.
Most of us who research will know the tear in the eye or lump in the throat from reading obituaries in old newspapers, so yes, I am for peace. But I wear a red poppy - I might also consider wearing a white one, but at a different time of year.
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