Great War still news to some

In a recent survey more than half the people questioned did not know that the centenary of the start of the First World War fell this year, with six per cent claiming they had never heard of the war. More alarmingly, this rose to one in ten for 18-35 age group.

When asked by YouGov, people hazarded guesses as wildly out as 1800 and 1950 for the start of the Great War, and 1910 and 1960 for the end. Just where have they been for the last few months?

In Sudbury a few years ago there was an exhibition on the war, and the abiding image was a map of the town where every street that had lost just one person killed in action was highlighted in pink.

There was hardly a street not coloured in.

Death became a commonplace, everyday event, although not to the families who had lost loved ones.

My dad’s eldest brother Jim was killed in the early days of the war, and Dad, who was 10 at the time, never forgot the look on his mother’s face when the telegram boy arrived with the message no-one wanted to hear.

It is right that we remember, but do not celebrate, the 100th anniversary of start of “the war to end all wars”, but inevitably commercialism has marched in.

Among the things on offer, commemorative mugs and bookmarks are available, if you really want them. There’s always someone chasing a fast buck.

The considered and thought-provoking articles on the war in much of the media, serious television programmes, the memorial services, dimming the lights on Monday, and what we do on November 11, are worth far, far more than any cheap trinket.

We recently spent a few days in Barry, soaking up the sunshine. Gavin and Stacey, having given the town a lot of publicity, are now taking a back seat, the current attention-grabber being the Barrybados marketing campaign.

Given the heat and great weather there a couple of weeks ago, that seems a fair description.

Car stickers, mugs, T-shirts, key rings, all bearing the name Barrybados – or the Welsh Riviera as it’s now known – are on sale virtually everywhere.

And while the town of Barry’s not much to shout about when it comes to tourism, it does have some superb beaches.

After an early morning stroll around Barry Island, and buying a paper – I’m

turning into my dad – we had a cup of tea at Marco’s, the café which had a starring role in the series. Marco’s still celebrates that claim to fame, but even there the Barrybados fridge magnets make a far from discreet appearance.

The new name has really caught on, and the local radio station is forever playing “Woah, I’m going to Barrybados”.

Same tune, different words. Sadly, I’ve been humming it for days.

A columnist in the i, on the problems of purchasing a house when you are single, wrote about hours spent “pouring” over estate agents’ websites. A torrent of abuse perhaps at prices which keep on moving out of reach?