October 2009

Dos and don’ts of poppy etiquette

Remembrance Sunday is approaching and poppies are on sale to raise money for the Royal British Legion. But what is the etiquette when it comes to wearing one?

Worn to remember the nation’s war dead, the red poppy is a widely recognised emblem.

Millions of poppies were sold last year and the appeal raised £30m for the Royal British Legion’s charitable work.

But what is the etiquette of wearing one?

1. Should you wear one?

The poppy commemorates those who have died in war. The tradition was started by American teacher Moina Bell Michael, who sold silk poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-service community. In 1920 the poppy was proclaimed the national emblem of remembrance in the US, and in the UK, the first poppy day was in 1921. Last year Britons bought 26m poppies, but others choose not to. Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow famously refuses to wear one on air, reportedly saying he does not want to bow to “poppy fascism”.

2. What colour to wear – red, white or purple?

Red is most popular, but the lesser-seen white poppy dates from 1933, when the Women’s Co-operative Guild wanted a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars. But the Royal British Legion refused to be associated with their manufacture, and so the Co-operative Wholesale Society took on production. The intention was not to offend the memory of those who died in the Great War, but many veterans felt white poppies undermined their contribution and the lasting meaning of the red poppy. Feelings ran so high that some women lost their jobs in the 1930s for wearing white poppies. Critics argue the red poppy already encompasses the sentiments of white one, which they say also diverts funds for the Royal British Legion. Then there are purple poppies, worn to remember the animal victims of war and sold by animal charities.

3. When to start wearing one?

Many people think poppies should be worn from 1 November until Armistice Day on 11 November. Others pin one on only in the week running up to Remembrance Sunday – 8 November this year. A Royal British Legion spokesman says they can be worn from the launch of the poppy appeal, which this year was 22 October. Organisations like the BBC usually choose a day for presenters to start wearing one. This year it was from 6am on 24 October.
4. Where to pin your poppy – left or right. Some people say left, as it’s worn over the heart. It is also where military medals are worn. Others say only the Queen and Royal Family are allowed to wear a poppy on the right, which isn’t true. Then there is the school of thought that says men should wear theirs on the left and women on the right, as is the traditional custom with a badge or brooch. The Royal British Legion spokesman says there is no right or wrong side “other than to wear it with pride”.

5. What size should it be?

The traditional poppy is roughly 7cm from red tip to the bottom of its green stalk and 4cm wide. But other sizes are worn. The Queen Mother had an extra large poppy – even two sometimes – specially made for her each year. And Baroness Sayeeda Warsi sported a super-size poppy for last Thursday’s controversial Question Time. Why someone wears a larger poppy is open to debate. An attempt to stand out from the crowd, maybe a nonconformist gesture? Whatever the reason, that splash of red certainly gets noticed.

Cherry Chilli Hot Sauce

I’ve been growing chillies for a couple of years now , inspired by the huge long slim cayenne chillies growing in the porch of Scuba Ninja’s house when I visited Sydney some years ago.

I tried an experiment this and grew some indooors in pots and some outside amongst the Basil patch in the aromatic area of my raised garden.

Whilst the outside ones were planted as a way of using up my glut of seedlings and expecting them not to flourish , they have far exceeded all my expectationa and I now have several chilli trees , that when costed in garden centres would easily set you back £10 + , the ones inside in the heat , are small yet they still produced some lovely chillies , I was worried having seasoned the outside ones that I would loose them all to the first frosts.

So I have uplifted them and planted them in huge pots , with a view to saving them.

That will be the second part of the experiment , to see if the conservatory will be too cold for them over winter , so one will remain in there , a sacrificial one really and one will come into the house near the window , lets watch this space.

Only one is currently being re housed at this stage of the events to Stu of Subsource fame . He’s the spikey mohawked one.

Any ideas from my UK readers that live nearby for any adoptive parents will be most welcome.

Matron , I know you have a huge audience , if you know anyone that may be able to re house and over winter them , much appreciated.

Cherry Bomb Chilli Hot Sauce
Makes 10 ounces – 35 tablespoons


10 Chillies, destemmed and minced
1 green onion, sliced [ 1 Spring Onion : FAO ; GW in NZ ]
5 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 cup of water
¼ cup of white vinegar
¼ cup of water


Place Chilli, green onion, garlic, olive oil, cumin, and 1 cup of water in a stainless steel pot.

Simmer over low heat until water has mostly evaporated.

This will take 10 – 15 minutes.

Place Chilli mixture into a blender with the white vinegar and ¼ cup of water and puree until it is completely smooth. Pour the Chilli sauce in a bottle with a lid and refrigerate until needed.

Video: The Inside Story Of The Plight Of Bluefin Tuna

October 1st’ ‘Inside Story’ on Al Jazeera TV was all about the collapse of bluefin tuna stock in the Mediterannean. The 25 minute programme provided a facinating insight into the politics and greed of the serious overfishing which has left bluefin on the verge of extinction.

Besides featuring an excellent interview with Greenpeace campaigner Willie MacKenzie, it also explains how a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) listing could help protect the threatened species by adding it to the priority list of endangered animals.

Plus there are interviews with representatives of the Italian and Spanish tuna fishermen most responsible for overfishing Mediterranean tuna to the edge of extinction. They are utterly unrepentant – instead of facing up to the consequences of their collective actions they insist on blaming everyone but themselves.

Take action

Get bluefin off the menu: sign up to the Greenpeace tuna pledge now

Matron Says Yes – I Passed The Taster Session

Thumbs Up From Matron

A Platter Of Preserves

Which One First ?

The season has taught me much , but Matron she say yes to my recipes.

People have asked what she was tasting , well , Pickled Peaches , Chillies In Vinegar , Green Tomato Jam , yes jam not chutney.