Time was when the country came to a standstill at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Buses stopped and the drivers climbed down from their cans to stand in respectful silence for two minutes. The it was decreed that the commemoration on Armistice Day itself was too disruptive or costly or something, and the commemorations would be centred on Remembrance Day, the Sunday nearest to 11th November. Just when that was is not something I can recall - although I have now discovered that it was in either 1945 or 46. No wonder I don';t remember it happening! The about ten years ago, a groundswell of opinion arose to [persuade people to observe the two minute silence on Armistice Day. It gained momentum quite quickly and the silence is now observed at railway stations and airports, with trains and planes being held (what's new?).
It is a good many years since I was last in a public place on the morning of 11th November, but yesterday I happened to be in a large, busy supermarket doing the weekly shop when I heard a public announcement.
"In two minutes' time we will be observing the silence."
Then, (presumably) two minutes later:
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is eleven o'clock."
That was it. Nothing about honouring the dead, no request for people to join in - and all the more effective for the understatement. Everybody just stopped and stood in silence, until:
"Thank you", when time started again, shopping trolleys rolled, tills made their tilling noises and the world moved on.