If records had been kept, I am sure they would show that Ampthill’s turnout for the service today is a record. As he has for the last 18 years, the Revd Michael Trodden led us in moving tribute to the fallen and all others who have suffered from war. The town’s French twin, Nissan-lez-Ensérunes sent some of their dignitaries, and together with scores of youngsters from local cadet organisations – army, naval and air force – marching to the twin band, it was colourful and musical under a pleasantly cold November sun. A man next to me was ever so proud that his son was in the official parade. Suzanne wore her dad’s medals, court-strung in miniature, as did I Dad’s. I reflected on a comment in yesterday’s Guardian that people of my vintage would have had ‘one or two teachers who had survived the Western Front’: someone who had enlisted at 18 in 1914 would have been only 53 in 1949, the first year of my schooling, in that most military of towns then – Aldershot.
Afterwards Suzanne and I wandered the antique emporium half-looking for a bookcase to cater for growing overspill from the house built-ins, and I underwent a glazed-eye-job in a new gift shop called Hare. Reaching orbital escape-speed from further twee temptations around the town square, we had one drink in the Albion of Leffe and a delicious half of Everard’s Tiger.