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5:25pm on Thursday, 6th November, 2014:

Poppies Revisited


I went to London today to visit an exhibition and seminar programme at Goldsmith's. I was hoping to get off the train at Stratford and take the Jubilee line, but my train didn't stop at Stratford so instead I decided to pick up the Dockland Light Railway at Tower Hill. This would give me the opportunity to have another look at the poppy thing they have going on there.

It was crowded. It took me 15 minutes to get out of the tube station and cross the road — this despite the fact that the ticket gates were open and there were police officers with megaphones stopping traffic for us. It may have been 11:15 on a Thursday morning in November, but it was hard to move. Here's just some of the crowd:

This time, I went to the western side of the Tower. After waiting awhile, I got close enough to the railings to take some pictures. It's really impressive:

Individually, those poppies are all different and quite pretty. Together, they're still pretty but in a scary, river-of-blood kind of way. It's a metaphor that's hard to miss, and it certainly works. The art critic in The Guardian criticised the display for not telling the full horror of World War 1, but I strongly differ with him: it certainly horrified me, and is so accessible it's no wonder that 4,000,000 people have seen it so far. It's very powerful.

I can see why politicians are clamouring to recommend that it stays open for a few weeks longer than was intended.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).