Dom Joly: 'If Grandpa had died in the war, would I still exist?'

Share
Related Topics

Up to London we go to see my dad march in the Remembrance Sunday parade. First we endure a stressful half an hour at home trying to persuade our kids to wear something vaguely smart. My son particularly resists this attempt to Little Lord Fauntleroy him. It takes me right back to being a kid myself – valiantly resisting efforts to make me wear a tie for the Easter church service. I've had a loathing of ties all my life and I'm pretty sure that this trait is genetic as my son is definitely heading that way.

The drive to London is smooth and easy. If only, in the words of Morrissey, every day was like Sunday. We drive right into town and get a parking spot at Hyde Park Gate, a stone's throw from the Cenotaph. We cross the Mall and buy one of the most expensive coffees known to man from a little booth in St James's Park. It's a posh part of town, so I wonder whether the extortionate price might be because they are using Kopi Luwak, the highly prized Indonesian coffee beans that pass through the digestive system of the palm civet before being harvested? Sadly, I can't be certain, although it certainly tastes like shit.

We take our usual places just opposite the rear exit to Downing Street. Moments after we arrive, the cannon goes off to mark the start of the two-minute silence. It's deafening and the kids jump out of their skins. Behind us a group of French tourists, unaware of the protocol, natter loudly to each other. They are roundly shushed and disappear shame-faced behind a tree.

There are always interesting people wandering in this area of Whitehall. We spot David Cameron. He spends a good 10 minutes glad-handing startled marchers. To be fair, he seems to be fairly popular among the veterans, and gets several large cheers from various groups. Ten minutes later, a little flurry of security accompanies Princes Edward and William as they walk from the Cenotaph, through Downing Street, to Horseguards. They are wearing Disneyesque red capes and huge, dangly swords. William just about manages to carry the look off, but Edward looks not unlike a pantomime dame.

In front of us a phalanx of electric wheelchairs advances gingerly. Its leader, a cheery double-amputee in a flashy electric carriage, does a couple of 360s and everybody claps. He beams with delight and does some more. Eventually we spot my dad marching with the Fleet Air Arm, their bowler hats bobbing up and down in unison. My kids are excited and we all clap and cheer wildly. My daughter, Parker, becomes contemplative: "Dad, lots of people died in the wars. That's why we are here, isn't it? If Grandpa had died, would I still exist?" She's a thinker, my little girl.

Our duty done, we all head off for the big lunch. Tradition dictates that we always go to Simpson's-in-the Strand. I'm not sure why. It's over-priced and rests smugly on its laurels, but the dining room is gorgeous and we always secure a huge, long table. My boy, Jackson, is surprisingly happy to be going to Simpson's. He jumps up and down excitedly all the way. I had no idea that a restaurant could have such an impact on him. Once inside, and seated, he appears deflated. I ask what's wrong. "Where's Homer?" He asks in a disgruntled manner. It appears that he has been expecting the other Simpsons.

But before long, a Yorkshire pudding almost bigger than him puts a smile back on his face. The meal takes four hours. Family events are curious creatures, but it's great to see my kids stare proudly at their grandfather. He might not be Grandpa Simpson, but they've got something even more special.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Electronic Sub-System Design Verification engineer

Flexible working, annual bonus, pension & more.: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the oppor...

MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Architect

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? MBDA has e...

MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Design Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity?MBDA has en...

MBDA UK Ltd: PCB Technologies Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity?MBDA has en...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in April. The classical musical festival is one of the BBC’s most cherished institutions  

The Proms must be dragged into the 21st century

David Lister
Lesley Roberts's benefits were stopped after she was erroneously declared fit for work by an Atos doctor  

I started receiving benefits after being given less than 3 years to live. And now the Government wants to make life even harder for people like me

Lesley Roberts
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor