Childhood memories of dancing round a maypole, adult memories of watching our children dancing round a maypole. Hedges full of blossom, warmer days and longer evenings. Winter has passed and spring is threatening to morph into summer.
Perhaps, like me, this draws your thoughts to the 1958 novel, ‘The Darling Buds of May’ and, or, the 1990’s TV serialisation of it. It rarely rained. ‘Pop Larkin’ (David Jason) presided over an abundance of rural simplicity. ‘Ma Larkin’ presided over a glorious abundance of food. The six children presided over an abundance of fun. The sky was always blue, and in the words of ‘Pop’ everything was ‘just per-fik’.
Personally, I’m not a big advocate of “The good old days” sentimentality, that apocryphal golden era our memories construct of everything in the past being better. There are times, however, when I long for the supposed idyllic life of yester year. Perhaps we all long for the days when children could leave the house after breakfast, play out all day with their friends, not return home until tea time, and their parents never had to worry that they’d be abducted, or abused or run over. The days when a playground fight was a spat of name calling, pulling and shoving, not 14 year olds taking a knife to school. Oh, for the halcyon childhood days of the Beano, Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat, Beryl the Peril, Dennis the Menace, and Bunty - accompanied by stories of jolly hockey sticks.
The reality is the present-day menu includes violent video games, pornography on demand, sexualisation, abuse, and cyber-bullying. No wonder we tend to look back to the past, albeit with rose tinted spectacles, and see it as a safer, more wholesome, time. A time of ‘the good old days’. It gives us a sense of peace and security. Ah, those were the days indeed!
Yet, for many of my colleagues and their families, May 2020 will throw their memories back to May 1982. A month when the British Armed Forces sustained their worst losses since WW11. The merry month of May it wasn’t. There was nothing ‘per-fik’ about the situation in the South Atlantic and the task of liberating the Falkland Islands following the Argentinian invasion. What there was were incredible acts of courage, of determination, of professionalism, and of loyalty. 8000 miles away from the quintessential English May of maypole dancing, fragrant blossom, and new mown grass; it was a month that tested resolve to the limit. The thoughts of many of our veterans, and their families, will be slipping back these 38 years.
Today, May Day, even amidst the challenges and pains of the present pandemic, please spare a moment of your own thoughts and memories to honour our Armed Forces Veterans. Look back with pride and look forward with hope.