Monday, 8 November 2010

For our tomorrow, they gave their today - Monday 8th November 2010

At 5 degrees, London today was colder than Switzerland. It was also wet and windy enough to blow rain under your umbrella. Perfect conditions for remembering those who died in the much worse conditions of war.

From 9.30 the crypt of St Paul's gradually filled with representatives from the the Royal British Legion, the armed services, the Ambulance Service, City Institutions and the Livery Companies. We were called out to walk across to the garden of remembrance at the North East corner of the cathedral, where the Band of the Scots Guards (well wrapped in grey greatcoats and bearskins) waited.

The Livery Masters gathered on the grass under the plane trees, cold penetrating up through the soles of our shoes, and the large wet plane leaves brushing water across our dripping umbrellas as the wind caught the branches.

The arrival of the procession of dignatories (Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Dean and Chapter) signalled the start of the service and we did our best to sing and pray, then took our turns in sixes to plant our small wooden crosses in the grass at the foot of the tree. Cautious steps required on the slippery mud (wonder what it was like in the trenches) and a strong hand to push the cross into surprisingly resistant ground.

The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens (i.e. stand-in for the LM, who is abroad), Lord Levene, said that this morning he had read the names of all those servicemen who had given their lives this year - 104 of them. "So many were only 18, 19 or 20 years old. That's one of the injustices of war. It takes the youngest and the best." Very choke-making.

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