Last year's 17-day campaign has become this year's 18-day campaign. A whole extra day of selling and pinning and collecting. Why is that? I'm all for raising money for ex-Service personnel and their families, but do we really need an extra day to ram the message home? Say no to poppycreep.
The British Legion's campaign's been 17 days long for some years now. And even that I think is pushing things somewhat. An entire two and a half weeks of poppy-wearing risks turning the act of remembrance into a duty rather than a tribute. Woe betide the celebrity or newsreader who's seen without a poppy between now and Sunday 11th. Watch how every singer on the X Factor dutifully pins a paper flower to their costume for three consecutive Saturdays because someone's told them to. We've somehow allowed a two minute silence to takeover twenty-five thousand minutes each year, and that can't be right.
Except hang on, we've had an 18 day campaign before. Interestingly this occurred the last time Remembrance Sunday was on 11th November, so maybe there's something about this particular calendar configuration which makes the British Legion launch early. Or maybe not. Let's go back a little further.
Woo, what happened there? 2005's Poppy Appeal was long enough, but the previous year the campaign had stretched to an astonishing three and a half weeks. From the earliest launch date there's ever been to the latest date Remembrance Sunday can ever fall, now that's extreme. However elongated this year's campaign is, it's nothing compared to 2004's marathon.
About a decade ago, the Poppy Appeal operated on a less extensive scale. Each year's campaign was launched precisely a fortnight before Remembrance Sunday, which still allowed for a full two week collection period. There was a blip in 2000, but maybe that's because either S Club 7 or Thora Hird weren't available on the Sunday so they had to push back to the Thursday instead.
Now that's more like it. 1997 was the year in which the Spice Girls launched the British Legion Poppy Appeal, and they did so only a week and a half in advance. That's more the length of campaign I think is appropriate - a concentrated burst of honour rather than a diluted spell of expectation. I'd be much happier if 2012's Poppy Appeal had launched next Wednesday, to prevent the entire campaign from descending into an unnecessarily lengthy period of soldier-worship.