In green fields

Just outside Little Eaton, the Derwent Valley Heritage Way crosses a turf farm. Even in November there are swathes of almost-too-bright green, the saturation level turned way up in the bleeding-away light of a grand afternoon.

I've been bimbling down the valley, enjoying pints and pies in various pubs. Being in the middle of a field resembling a football pitch makes me stop. And look back over my shoulder.

For the first time today, there's big sky. Palate-knifed sky in blue and grey. A smear of pan-flat turf underneath.

For the first time today, I catch my breath and remember what it's like to go on a long, lazy country pub crawl.

Not for the first time today, I thank my grandfathers who I never got to know. Who didn't die in World War Two but never really survived it.

I thank them for what they did. For giving me the chance to bugger around and clog my boot cleats with mud and enjoy a pint or four. I wish it could have been with them.

I don't wear a poppy. Because I carry something with me every day to remind me.

I've been accused of disrespect. Told that medals should be kept in cabinets.

But every day when I lock my front door, every time I open a bottle of beer, every time it pricks me in the arse, I remember.

I'm here because amazing gentlemen lived through a life that's unimaginable to me.