I STARTED work as a reporter in November 1960 and on the following Sunday covered the Remembrance ceremony in Kensington.

Few people were present and it was hard to hear words or music because of traffic noise. Although it was only 15 years since the end of the Second World War, the prevailing attitude was that we should get on with the challenges of contemporary life rather than dwell on past horrors.

Many of the men who had survived the conflict were regarded as old bores if they happened to talk about their experiences. I thought that Remembrance ceremonies would soon be stopped through lack of interest. How wrong I was.

It seems that the further we get away from the two World Wars, the more fascinated we become by them. Now it is a century since the guns fell silent in Europe, there will be commemorations on a scale we have seldom seen before.

It is hard to imagine how terrible life was in the trenches during the First World War and how senseless the slaughter became. Because Britain had not been involved in a major war for almost a century, many young men volunteered for service without heeding the horrors and thinking it would all be over by Christmas.

The loss of life in the battlefields was less in the Second World War but there were many more civilian casualties. There was also an obvious enemy in Hitler.

I grew up thinking there would be a third world war by the time I was an adult and that weapons such as the atom bomb would cause terrible loss of life.

But for the first time, countries which have possessed these weapons have declined to use them as the Americans found out in Vietnam.

The USA could have bombed that country to bits with nuclear weapons but instead took part in an unpopular conflict which still led to huge loss of life.

Wars could continue to gain popular support as was proved by the Falklands conflict in 1982 when Margaret Thatcher’s decision to defend those far flung islands was backed by a majority of people in Britain.

But Tony Blair discovered with the conflict in Iraq that public approval was not automatic, although at first there was still a narrow majority in favour. The war remains a stain on Blair’s record which will never be removed and his successors know they have to be extremely cautious about committing the country to conflict.

Attitudes towards war are changing. In the First World War, there was considerable hostility towards conscientious objectors. In the Second World War, Winston Churchill had the nation’s backing for the fight against Hitler.

But when a general election was held in 1945, the returning troops made sure at the ballot box that the wartime Prime Minister was kicked out of office. We can listen to Churchill’s stirring speeches to the people and admire the patriotic oratory. But I don’t think they would capture the public’s mood today.

Indeed I fancy that thousands if not millions of people would refuse to take part in another war.

Most people in the first half of the last century were poor and had few possessions. Things are different now.

Today they tend to live in comfortable houses instead of hovels. They have cars and computers, washing machines and central heating. They may feel reluctant to give up their pleasant lifestyles to back a war against far off countries with which they have little or no enmity.

While there would still be some support from the shires, liberal cities such as Brighton and Hove might be extremely reluctant to fight.

Unlike the First World War volunteers, they know all too well the horror of war which can be seen on the screen in full gory detail.

People who lead long and often fulfilled lives are less likely to give them away cheaply.

There is also a cynicism about politicians today which did not really exist in the past. They are often regarded as inveterate liars who are only interested in feathering their own nests.

Thanks to social media, it is much easier and speedier to mobilise public opinion now.

Large numbers could speedily tell their leaders they must not start wars without the backing of Parliament and the people who elected them.

The fascination with world wars, which will reach a peak during the next few days, is accompanied by a determination that they must never happen again.

Even Churchill, often regarded as a warmonger, said that jaw-jaw was better than war-war, and he would be applauded today for that.