ANOTHER year, another slew of stories denigrating people for not wearing a poppy, or branding as dictatorial those who criticise non-poppy wearers.

If one wore a poppy for every story published on the issue this week alone, one would be clothed from head to toe in red.

It was only a matter of time before someone uttered the frankly ridiculous phrase "poppy fascism" to describe criticism of those who don't wear a poppy.

For this is hardly fascism, not least because those who are called out for this alleged misdemeanour are not threatened with deportation or death.

I am right behind those who complain about being hassled for not wearing a poppy because it remains, unless Those Who Rule have decided otherwise but not spread the word among the general population, a matter of individual choice.

And the exercise of choice should surely be respected as one of those precious rights fought for by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

But really, it is time to curb the hyperbole and save the accusation of 'fascism' for an occasion - hopefully never again to be encountered - when it really means something.

Similarly however, it was only a matter of time before poppy-less celebrities were subjected to opprobrium and abuse for daring to appear in public without having pinned upon their designer outfits this most conspicuous of symbols of remembrance.

It happened to actor Sienna Miller last week, when she appeared on the BBC's Graham Norton Show sans poppy.

In a rare moment of premonition I thought "this will get the angry mob out in force" and lo, it came to pass. Cue a deluge of disapproving tweets and a couple of stories in the tabloids.

Ms Miller's excuse - that she had removed her poppy before going on air as it was pulling on her clothes - was risible.

However, had she decided not to wear one because she did not want to, then that would have been her choice and as we all should know, choice ought to be respected.

The other entirely acceptable excuse for not wearing a poppy of course - and one with which I agree - is that the show was broadcast on Friday October 30. That is a full nine days before Remembrance Sunday, and 12 days before Armistice Day.

And for me, that is far too early to be wearing a poppy.

BBC presenters started wearing them in the middle of October, and this appears to be the cue for the start of a hunting season, in which poppy yeasayers believe they are free to at first eye with suspicion those not wearing poppies, with open hostility declared around the beginning of November.

It perhaps taps into one of the more unattractive sides of my character, but as the years have gone by and the annual poppy frenzy takes hold, I find myself more and more wishing that someone would take me to task for not wearing a poppy.

My answer would be simple. That I am not wearing a poppy now, but I will wear one on Remembrance Sunday and on Armistice Day, which are the key days of remembrance.

I know the Royal British Legion has to run a poppy sales campaign over several weeks to generate a large proportion of the revenue it requires to carry out its myriad good works.

But when did Remembrance Day turn into Remembrance Week, or Remembrance Month? I prefer to minimise the wearing of my poppy to the two days that matter because for me, that maximises its impact on a personal level.

That does not mean that I simply turn on my feelings of remembrance and respect on those two days. Rather, they become the outward focus for my small acts of paying respects.

On June 25 this year, I took a couple of minutes to pay special respects to Midshipman Michael Finch, killed 50 years ago that day, when an explosives-rigged sampan blew up after being summoned alongside the minesweeper HMS Woolaston in the Singapore Straits during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.

Several others were injured, some seriously. My father was serving on the Woolaston that day too, and escaped with eardrum damage, but it took him more than 40 years to tell his family about it.

I was 13 months old when this incident happened and as far as my mother can recall, my dad had seen me only on a few days of leave during the previous year.

These sorts of revelations can stop you in your tracks - cause enough indeed, to stop and remember at any time of the year, and without the need for a poppy.