In the lean 1950s, I watched them marching by;
Touched by frosty sun, the medals still shone
As an adult, I polished and polished, to no avail
The shine on my father’s medals had gone.
A child, I stood with my mother in Whitehall
Waiting and shuffling my feet
Mum bought me a milk chocolate clock
So I could nibble something sweet.
Years later I’d buy hot chestnuts for my children
They’d say ‘There’s Grandpa!’ as he passed
He was seventy and more but never missed the parade,
It was his way of holding fast.
He always marched with Oxford and St George’s
Named for St George-in-the-East
The club which brought light to East End children,
And offered them a cultural feast.
He also went to Remembrance Day in Hendon,
Much later, when he was ninety or so,
A carer then would push his wheelchair
But still, every year he would go.
I used Duraglit for copper, on the medals
An assignment which I found tough
Because the metal showed signs of thinning
And Dad said they still weren’t bright enough.
Some time after he died, the medals went missing.
My sister and I were beside ourselves
But they turned up in the care home’s safe
Where they’d fallen behind some shelves.
Now I no longer stand on the pavement
But watch the parade on BBC
The ex-servicemen and women
Swing their arms so dauntlessly,
Wars, conflicts, tensions have not ceased.
The bands play tunes from World War One
Lest we forget. But we remember, in the morning,
And ‘at the going down of the sun.’
13 November 2016