Seeing Red on Anzac Day
ANZAC: The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps
Anzac Day is commemorated on the 25th of April to help us remember the thousands of New Zealanders and Australians who died in the First World War at Gallipoli (Turkey) in 1915. It was a disasterous campaign with many lives lost on both sides. Today on Anzac Day we remember all those who fell in the two Great Wars and all the wars we have participated in since. ‘Lest we forget’ is our Anzac Day motto. (Hmmm.) Lest we forget …
Memories of my grandfather are in sepia and grey. I have forgotten where the colours go, save for a single colour I remember on Anzac Day. Hubert, for that was my grandfather’s sepia name, survived Gallipoli but his limp served as daily reminder ever after. Hubert was uncomfortable on the settee even when trenched in a jumble of Nanna’s homemade cushions. They say Hubert never complained.
On Anzac Day Hubert pins a paper poppy to the lapel of his grey coat. The paper poppy is red. Across his chest parades a line of medals. The medals dangle from short ribbons. The colour of Anzac Day is red. The red of Flander’s poppies, the red of Huberts cheeks, a maze of forked blood vessels beneath his polished skin.
I remember afternoon tea. A cup of tea served to conclude every occassion, every gathering, every activity. Tea provided commas to our day. I do not recall the colour of the teacup I sipped from, nor do I remember the colour of Nanna’s tea-cosy – though the teapot surely wore one. I do remember Nanna’s chewy Anzac biscuits. These sturdy biscuits were baked by women to be sent to soldiers as part of the war effort. Anzac biscuits keep well and are surprisingly filling. (Two biscuits taken in the afternoon will spoil your dinner.)
Prisoners of war received Red Cross parcels in those days. A parcel contained: tinned meatloaf or stew, bully beef, tinned fish, milk powder or condensed milk, hard biscuits, a tin of jam, dried fruit, margarine, TEA, sugar, a cake of soap and cigarettes. These were small comforts in a harsh existence yet enough to go on with.
This year we celebrated Anzac Day with a special tea and a large plate of Anzac biscuits. No frills.
I also used the welcome public holiday to experiment in the art of tea blending. I wanted to create a comforting but useful blend and it had to wash a sturdy Anzac biscuit down without clashing. I wanted a blend to help us remember campfires and condensed milk and spicy foreign soils while we munched and munched on our soldier’s biscuits. I wrote the recipe down and called it Outdoor Tea.
“They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old/ age shall not weary them/ nor the years condemn/at the going down of the sun and in the morning/ We will remember them.” Laurence Binyon.