TWO minutes silence?
Not while Barkers Pool fountains bubble on, car horns sound from West Street and children whine to be free of their buggies.
There’s HL Brown’s siren, the Town Hall clock chimes and the glorious melancholy of a lone bugler’s Last Post ringing from a packed City Hall steps.
But in the midst of life this muffled city soundscape is plenty quiet enough for 11 o’clock 11.11.11 reflections on the sacrifice made by so many in too many conflicts over the last 90 years.
Two minutes tick by in what seems an instant.
Brown’s sirens blare again and drown out a soldier’s address to missing comrades but we do hear: “... when you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today”.
All sorts turned up.
Soldiers old and current, mums with pushchairs, tweedy middle-aged ladies, office workers with multi-coloured finger nails gripping Starbucks coffee cups.
A huddle of half-a-dozen texting teenage girls wearing only white beauty school tunics and several layers of make-up shiver alongside stooped and careworn veterans.
Security guards, a Chelsea pensioner, a man and a dog, boys and their dads, ordinary Sheffielders who feel a keen need to be there.
Under British Legion and Union flags, wreaths are laid by serving soldiers and men old enough to be their grandfathers.
Military respects paid, the Lord’s prayer rumbles across the flagstones like distant thunder as Rev David Shaw leads the religious observations.
The moment passes and Barkers Pool’s breached bubble of quiet melts away as the crowd moves on, the imperfect silence replaced by the sound of the everyday.
But no-one wants real silence, the only real silence is in death.
Or in the sense-numbing silence of a young wife as she opens the door to a War Office telegram boy, the silence in a million Anderson shelters when the bombs stopped, the silence of an empty seat at a family dinner table this Christmas.
No-one wants that,
That’s why people will always remember those who knew real silence all too soon.