Paul Mescal criticised for wearing his regular, poppy-less clothes on Graham Norton Show
The lesson here – do not visit England in the month of November unless you intend to wear a poppy.
Somewhere in the past 10 to 12 years, wearing a poppy to remember civilian and military casualties of past wars has, perhaps unsurprisingly given its connections, become weaponised. This weekend, unbeknownst to himself, Paul Mescal became the latest leading name to cause faux 'OUTRAGE' by not donning one.
The Kildare actor was on The Graham Norton Show, which aired on Friday night, and he spoke well about his new movie, Aftersun, award acceptance speeches and those GAA shorts from his breakout role in Normal People.
There was also a great moment when comedian and TV host Richard Ayoade refused to apologise for calling Mescal a "bastard" [tongue-in-cheek, of course] at an award ceremony that took place last year.
Paul Mescal joins footballers in Pantheon of the Poppyless
Most of us that tuned in on Friday would have gone away impressed with another engaging, funny and invested Paul Mescal talk show appearance.
By late-night Friday, rolling into Saturday and even on Sunday morning, though, Mescal had somehow enraged a percentage of an English population that often find themselves triggered by the slightest thing, not to mention perceived slights.
'Paul Mescal causes outrage by not wearing a poppy on Graham Norton show' declared LadBible, while the height of the outrage appeared to be people tweeting to the show itself, and the wider world, questioning why the actor was not wearing a poppy.
It was all a storm in a tea-cup, and legions of Irish folks were only too happy to wade in, on social media, to give a myriad of reasons why Mescal would choose to wear his normal, poppy-less clothes.
Like it or not, the past decade or so has seen what was supposed to be a personal mark of remembrance become a month-long hawk for someone that does not toe the line. Should one want to wear a poppy or not, it should be a personal decision and not a symbolic dog-whistle or a mass peer pressure swirl.
'Poppy Watch' is almost an industry in itself at this stage. The wearing of a poppy has now stretched from taking the spotlight on Remembrance Sunday, usually in the middle of November, to the entire month.
ME REMEMBER FALLEN! pic.twitter.com/5bipVfUe99
— Poppy® Watch (@giantpoppywatch) November 7, 2016
Mescal, of course, is Irish and, one imagines, was in no way pressured by anyone connected to The Graham Norton Show to don a poppy. Unless something has changed in the UK, they are not handing ready-to-pin poppies out at passport control when you arrive on their patch.
Each to their own. At least, that is how it should be.
Rather than get too deep in the weeds on this, we note [below] the words of former Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic who, like James McClean, went against the intended catch-all gesture by English football clubs, of having a poppy on all of their players' jerseys. The Serbian explained:
"I recognise fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict... Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don't feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt.
"I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone, however, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined."
Those words, and more, were penned five years ago, and underlined Matic's point with respect and distinction.
And yet here we are, five years on, trying to push poppies and agendas on people and getting upset at stuff that is not worth the time and effort.