Laying to rest

Spent this morning at a ceremony in Forfar at which the Freedom of Angus was conferred on the Black Watch.  I’m always struck by how alike church and army are – same sense of timelessness, same pecking order, same arcane rituals …  What interested me today was what I assume was the subtext – marking the [painful] change in the status of the Scottish Regiments under which they are all now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.  In the period before I moved here, I tried to inform myself about a number of local issues – so I connected myself to the Scottish Regiments website.  And in there I found fairly unpleasant expressions of their bereavement and loss of identity – very familiar to me from my experience of Northern Ireland.  So today was a piece of well-managed ritual which helped people to move on and accept that the new future doesn’t wipe out what they valued about the past.  I wandered amongst the veterans afterwards and we talked about their service in Northern Ireland in the early years of the troubles – dreadful times but, I suspect, not nearly as dreadful as Iraq today.