The poppy

One hun­dred years on, the poppy re­mains a to­ken of re­mem­brance of the Great War — among hunt­ing folk just as much as else­where, says Cather­ine Austen

Horse & Hound - - Letters - H&H

“HANG on!” Ed­wina cries as her hus­band Frank makes for the door. “Don’t for­get this.”

Frank pauses and she pins a red poppy on to his lapel.

“Now, there’s a flask of soup and sand­wiches on the back seat. Here’s Gnasher’s lead. Have a lovely day.”

Frank climbs slowly into his old Dai­hatsu Four­trak, and Gnasher, an el­derly Border ter­rier whose bite is far worse than his bark, hops on to the front seat be­side his master. They are off to the open­ing meet of the Smash­ing­ton

Vale, which has been held at Water­loo Hall since 1946.

Frank was a boy on a pony then, but he re­mem­bers how Lady Water­loo kept the hounds go­ing dur­ing the war — and he re­mem­bers the faces that weren’t there af­ter the war. He notes with ap­proval the amount of peo­ple wear­ing pop­pies on their hunt­ing coats. He takes a glass of port from a tray prof­fered by a smil­ing teenager, and Gnasher wolfs down a dropped sausage roll, growl­ing at a fox­hound who had the same idea. They leave be­fore the end of the meet and drive up the hill be­hind the hall to a spot where Frank can watch hounds draw the first covert. He sees the trail-layer slip away, well in front, and hears that spine-tin­gling sound of mu­sic as hounds pick up the scent of his trail.

“Lest we for­get,” he mur­murs thought­fully to him­self. “How lucky we are.”

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