One of the demands of a columnist is to create wherever possible, and as reasonably as possible, a piece that brings forth replies, either for or against the subject, and as many as possible. To this end, on Trials Central, there have been many subjects in Centrally Speaking. Some have created an enormous response, others barely a tweet
Over the years I have written many columns or articles that try to reflect public opinion, or indeed my opinion, about riding trials on Remembrance Sunday. This year I had decided to give it a miss, after all the arguments both for and against are well known, and those who hold their respective views are unlikely to change.
But following some posts that were made to this site as far back as 2005, there have been further additions some four years later, so for that reason alone the subject is not forgotten.
And I think much has changed in the four years since that subject was so adequately covered in 2005. The argument for not riding on Remembrance Sunday is to recognise the ultimate price paid by those who fought in the two World Wars, particularly the Despatch Riders who lost their lives, so eloquently written earlier this week by Stecks. Those who would like to ride on Remembrance Sunday suggest that all proceeds from any event should be donated to the British Legion. Both have their merits, but what has changed since the argument was aired in 2005 is that Britain is currently engaged in a war (Afghanistan) in which a large number of British service personnel are dying.
I’m as guilty as anybody. Any thoughts that I might have had about wanting to ride on Remembrance Sunday were clouded by the knowledge that the two World Wars finished before I was born, so therefore had little effect on my personal experiences.
But that has changed now with some many deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and this was particularly brought home to me recently. Many will know that my employment is as a retailer of window blinds and recently I have supplied blinds to a family in Lancaster whose son died in Iraq.
Whilst they never mentioned this to me in our dealings, it was only too obvious by the memorabilia in their house and the overheard conversations about their obviously recent loss. And then, not many weeks later, I visited a customer who had relations visiting him as he was about to leave for Afghanistan later that week. The emotion was obvious, and I left them to say their goodbyes before returning some hours later.
Those two instances, whilst they do not affect me, have made me realise that war and death is still very much a daily occurrence for some people, and I believe that Remembrance Sunday is an institutional part of our lives and should be recognised by our sport in the way we do it now. The fact that most other sporting organisations continue to run as normal is certainly not the point. Rather unfortunately, I consider, a significant firework display is taking place nearby as I write, and it simply seems inappropriate on Remembrance Sunday, so therefore I personally agree that no permits should be issued for sport to take place on Remembrance Sunday.
Everybody has their own opinion but as I’ve said earlier in this article, war is not something that happened 64 years ago, it is happening NOW.
However, whilst today is Remembrance Sunday, yesterday was a normal Saturday and the Northern Experts took place. The organising Manchester 17 MCC once again provided a fine trial and for a rider of my ability, whilst I’m there only to make up the numbers, it was a good day’s sport.
But what I have written before and what I will almost certainly write again, how do we, as a sport, get over the problem of there being only EIGHT riders on the hard course, and 104 on the Clubman course?