Over the past week, pockets of poppies have appeared everywhere, from the edges of fields and vineyards, to the scrappiest of building sites and scruffiest of wasteland. Whatever the location, the image of these flowers always seems to have the same visual impact.
I saw these near the fast lane of a dual carriage way, just in front of the ugly concrete mass of a bridge which has nevertheless been decorated with the head of the Smiling Angel (L'Ange au Sourire). The original sculpture became a symbol of the suffering of France during the Great War, when the cathedral of Reims was victim to the violence of war. During the bombing of the city, the angel was decapitated, the head duly fell from the façade of the edifice and shattered, thus marking "French culture destroyed by barbarity". Despite this, the angel was pieced together and just as the cathedral itself, emerged again, in phoenix fashion, from the flames and destruction, its enigmatic smile intact.
There was very little to smile about this week as yet another terrorist attack was carried out, managing to surpass others in sheer brutality by targeting the youngest civilians. Lives lost before they have even been lived. This was Manchester, but it could have been any other worn-torn country, for whatever the land it falls on, blood is still blood. Tears are still tears. And so the little poppies that emerged over the past few days seem all the more symbolic this time, ever more the image of those fallen. Here, however, the victims, as civilians, never signed up for this war, nor were they conscripted.