Friday, 14 November 2014


Ah, the poppies.  

 2014 marked the 100 year anniversary of the first World War.  To remember the somber occasion, the moat of the Tower of London slowly became a field of ceramic poppies.  The installation, called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Blood,  almost 900,000 flowers were "planted" leading up to the 11 November.  Staggeringly, each poppy represents a British fatality in the war.

 Starting in August with the "waterfall", the art installation grew and grew to encompass the entire moat.  Soon, this became a huge attraction, with people standing in lines for hours and congesting central London and some of the busiest tube stations in town.  All the tube stations had signs asking people to use alternate routes to get to the Tower as millions made their way to see it in the final weeks.  This made me nervous- I get agitated in the friendliest of crowds and waiting for hours in such crowds is bound to ensure that by the time I got to the front of the line, I would be a sweaty clammy mess of angry angst and cease to be impressed by anything.  

I chose a rainy night to make my pilgrimage.  It was crowded, but do-able.  It also happened to be the last night before they started uninstalling after Armistice Day, so I really waited until the 11th hour on this.  

It's just....incredible and moving and somber.  However, I did openly mock a man who was front and center on Skype on an Ipad and having a loud conversation about how his day was with the tinny speakers turned up.  Was he a New Yorker?  That was my best guess.  It's a war memorial, have some humility and respect.  Save the laugh with your blokes for later.    

It was hard to grasp the scale of it, but the entire moat was filled and you would need a drone to capture the entire thing on flim.  Ah, but that is where the BBC steps in.  Now that the installation is being deconstructed, you can buy a poppy!  All the proceeds go to charity.  

You can still see it- I heard that the cascade will be left indefinitely, and there is an exhibit in the Tower itself about the military history that it played during the war.  I haven't bought a ticket for the tower in years- maybe the first trip I took over to London ages ago- but I remember it being well worth the price of admission.  There's so much creepy dark history here, it really made for an appropriate and dramatic backdrop.      

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