I like that

Tuesday June 27, 2006

Today was Veteran’s Day in the UK. Until this year we’ve been content with a slightly shifted Armistice Day, moved to the Sunday closest to November 11 and renamed as Remembrance Day. This year, though, we seem to have added Veteran’s Day, to celebrate and honour all those who have served in the Armed Forces in war and in peace. Now, I reckon the remembrance of the fallen and injured on the field of battle, wherever the battleground may be and regardless of nationality or the branch of service, as an important responsibility for any citizen to honour. A properly established public ceremony in a suitable location is a good thing, though I do dislike the degree of compulsion that’s crept in to the annual commemoration and I don’t hesitate to say so. Never did like the idea of handing out white feathers.

Now, I may come to accept it but the idea of a Veteran’s Day as it’s been established makes me feel distinctly uncomfortable. I spent almost all my time during my service with the Royal Air Force sitting behind a desk in a nice, safe compound. The service I carried out was essential—a vital part of the Cold War—but in my eyes at least does not qualify me to adopt the title of Veteran and I was a little shocked to discover that, regardless of my own feelings, that label has been pinned on my coat willy-nilly.

“Good heavens,” I said when I heard the news. “This means that I’m a Veteran.”


“All I did was pound a keyboard in a bunker. That’s not what I’d call Veteran’s work.”


“Oh, I don’t know. Impossible to explain. Perhaps it’s one of those things where you have to have been there.”

“Like as not.”

Ah well. I doubt I’ll ever make sense of it. I suspect it’s another of those elements of the new world where I shall need to smile quietly and nod enigmatically without comment for fear of upsetting the natives.

One development arising from the day was the announcement that following the passing away of the last living military survivor of the 1914-18 war there is to be a national service of remembrance to honour the entire generation of servicemen and women who served, and fell, in that Great War. That’s something of which I most strongly approve and, though I sincerely hope that the date will be a good few years away yet, when it comes I shall do my best to attend if I’m able.

That aside, the most significant event of the day was the visit of Graham’s mother to the new house, brought forward from Thursday the better to fit his working schedule. We gave her the grand tour, and then sat down to enjoy a picnic lunch in the dining nook, and the whole thing seemed to go pretty well. She didn’t actually say she liked the house but then she’s never really liked our houses until we’ve furnished and decorated them to our taste. It’s better in general to postpone these visits until after we’ve got our houses into presentable condition so’s she can see something closer to the finished product but it wasn’t possible this time. I think she was pleased enough to be given the chance to see it, though.

I lost a day’s work to the visit of course but I think it’d have been a perfunctory effort at best—I was feeling a little creaky and tired after yesterday’s labour.

One enormous benefit to me was the chance to stop and take stock of the place, in particular the kitchen and dining nook, which form one of the largest living kitchens we’ve ever owned. L-shaped, with the long wall and half of the outer wall filled with kitchen cabinets and the remainder of the outer wall corner occupied by the dining nook with the french doors filling the wall, I’d rather taken it as a given. Sitting here now, I’m noodling at the thought of turning it at some future date into a three zone living kitchen, removing sufficient cabinets to form a day-room, providing sitting and working space in addition to and separate from the dining area.

Faced with a large expanse of wall in a kitchen, most designers take the easy way out and fill the entire thing with cabinets regardless of function or need. When my thoughts have cleared on this I shall put it to Graham so’s he can shoot the idea down in flames. Or, as might happen, fasten onto the idea as a piece of design genius. We shall see.

What with garden plans, decorative and furnishing schemes, and thoughts for our future in general, there are a goodly supply of We shall see’s floating around just now. And I really, really like that.



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