I WAS 12 years old when my father was killed in August 1944 in Italy. I remember well the day of 8 May 1945 when a teacher came into our classroom to announce VE Day. There was only one other girl in the school who had lost her father in the war and although we were not particular friends we instinctively caught each other's gaze in unspoken recognition. Neither of us ever referred to the matter but I have never forgotten the incident or the girl. The girls not so closely touched by the war were the ones to shriek and whoop in exaggerated and slightly hysterical response. Youth can excuse such behaviour. No such mitigation can be put forward on behalf of those responsible for the fatuous, absurd, theatrical and trivial entertainments suggested for D- Day. Are we also to be deluged with condescending and vapid platitudes and cliches? Have any of these hearty party enthusiasts ever wandered round a British military cemetery? Were they inspired to dance, sing and clown around? I find the payment of pounds 62,000 of taxpayers' money to Lowe Bell for their part in this anticipated charade an obscenity. I shudder to think of what absurdities and vulgarities minds of the same ilk will dream up to celebrate VE Day and VJ Day.
Surely ringing bells throughout the land is so much more fitting. It has the virtue of simplicity. It has been a signalling symbol of warning, of birth and death, of victory and defeat down the centuries. The sound, because less frequent nowadays, is startling, arousing, and sets the imagination spinning. Loss and sorrow are experienced and remembered internally and privately and not in the public frying of spam fritters for people who are unlikely to be hungry.
Everyone would be free to respond to the bells in their own way without being subjected to the platitudinising rhetoric of politicians.