It’s always good when the British press gets to the heart of the matter; aided and abetted by social media in highlighting the important issues. What a valuable service, then, they performed at the weekend when holding Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn to account for….the awful coat he wore at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.

“Scruffy and disrespectful” apparently, a grey anorak in a sea of black overcoats, according to one newspaper. Makes you proud of journalism, no?

Indeed, many on social media were “shocked” and it wasn’t just the coat. The very small poppy pin on the coat also came in for some mention.

In a country where the use of food banks is up 13 per cent, homelessness is at record levels, more and more children are living in poverty, often exacerbated by the Government’s chaotic introduction of Universal Credit, it must take a lot to shock people. So Corbyn’s fashion faux pas must have been bad.

But never mind the state of the working class in 2018, in the context of Remembrance, it was the incredible suffering of people in 1918 that was the real focus of shock. In the overall scheme of debate over the Poppy being politicised and whether remembrance glorified war or not, the triviality of a coat seems plainly ridiculous.

Last week in this column, I suggested that everyone’s opinion should be respected and I mused that perhaps the appetite for commemoration of war dead was becoming lukewarm. As it happened, Remembrance, for the most part at least, was dignified, strong and very powerful.

The marking of the centenary of the end of World War One had been planned for some time, and in my view it brought home the absolute horror and futility of war while still honouring the courage and sacrifice of millions of people sent to their death.

Peter Jackson’s film “They Shall Not Grow Old” was a masterpiece, graphically illustrating the experiences that many of the men went through. It used actual archive footage from the war, some of it colourised, and the sound recordings of men who were there talking about their experiences.

From smiling faces and fun off duty, to adapting to the harsh toilet and food conditions of military life in war; to the obscene reality of dead mutilated bodies in the trenches, with rats getting fat eating the flesh.

The film heard tales of men using the method of placing a hankie or a sock soaked in urine over their noses to protect themselves in a gas attack.

The modern techniques and superb film making left viewers almost feeling what it was like to be there.

Almost. But not quite. Actually, probably nowhere close.

Marion Maxwell explained on Radio Ulster on Saturday morning that at Cleenish years ago, a young pupil was given a homework task of writing about the First World War experiences of their father which the child asked about at home. Their book was returned the next day, with the words across it: “None of your business!” Such were the horrific experiences that we can only imagine.

I found them very movingly evoked in the Wilfred Owen poem “Dulce et decorum est” as read on Channel Four by the actor Christopher Ecclestone. After some very descriptive lines about war experiences, the poem finishes with the call that if you could know those feelings, then “You would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory, THE LIE ‘Dulce et decorum est patria mori’” (“It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country.”)

There is no glory in war, but there is a sort of glory in remembering how awful it was and how world powers in nationalistic fervour sank to the depths of wiping out generations of their young working class people in cruelly violent ways. And how good to see the recognition of the part played by so many people of different cultures, colours and religions.

What struck me about this year was the very different mood in Ireland about the recollection of the so-called Great War, when Ireland, of course, was still united under British rule and many Irishmen of different persuasions fought a common enemy. This narrative is being recognised more and more now. Interestingly, there is now recognition in the GAA of players and members who went to war for Britain and in the Sunday Times, Michael Foley, a member of the GAA’s History and Commemorations Committee writes: “For most of the last century, GAA members who fought in the First World War were ignored, their stories erased or allowed fade from memory.” But, he points out, their stories are being told now, with 28 counties out of the 32 in Ireland having sent GAA members to War.

Notwithstanding the hostility to some on their return, many clubs in the south welcomed members home having held farewells and then fundraisers for injured soldiers.

It must be remembered that the Ireland of a century ago wanted its independence from Britain and was prepared to fight for it, but nonetheless the role played by many Irishmen from across the island is being recognised as never before.

Such healthy retrospection on a complicated history is to be welcomed; as one commentator said, it seems easier to consider history’s nuances from away back whereas we often look at our history through the prism of the last 50 years.

One of the comments somebody made to me recently was that I have a tendency in this column to recall too much from the past. Maybe that comes from realising that I’ve got more years behind me now than I have ahead of me!

More likely, though, I often feel that learning the lessons of the past and remembering the mistakes and lessons from yesteryear is important. So, I felt there was a certain inspiration in the response to commemoration last week in Fermanagh and Enniskillen, a place where Remembrance Sunday will always have additional poignant, hurtful resonance.

Like 1987, Enniskillen in 2018 seized a new dimension of hope out of a horror.

My colleague, Rodney Edwards tweeted: “Priest taking part in service at war memorial. Arlene Foster, Orangemen, British legion and Unionists at Catholic church, alongside all church leaders and hundreds of locals. Two beams of light shining across street between two churches. Proud of Fermanagh tonight.”

Well said.

War is horrible, no war more so than the Great War, once described as the “war to end all wars.” Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way as the mentality which caused war persisted.

I don’t know if we can yet think of the biblical words of Joseph, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…”

But the message of the brutality and futility of war was paramount in last week’s remembrance. If the message of the value of peace is raised, then Corbyn can wear any sort of coat he likes.