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

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone