2014 marks the centenary of the start of the Great War. We Brits love to wallow in the past. Needless to say there have been commemorations all year – books, exhibitions, documentaries and the like. Mercifully, few have been sullied with jingoism. The First World War started as a glorified pissing contest between the European Great Powers (‘My dreadnought’s bigger than your dreadnought’) and ended with the slaughter of nine million combatants and seven million civilians. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Fat chance. Man’s appetite for killing has remained stubbornly undiminished. Sometimes, though, something makes you stop and think. Such is the field of 888, 246 blood red poppies pouring out of a gun port at the Tower of London, each one representing a fallen British, Dominion or Empire soldier. The display has caused quite a stir – for and against. It’s just so much hot air, signifying nothing (to badly paraphrase the Bard). What is certain is that the flood of ceramic poppies has become one of the most visited exhibitions ever. Anything that reminds us all of the general futility of war is fine with me.