1976. “The War”, of which I had been vaguely aware – on the borders, at the sharp end and generally a Long Way Away came into my consciousness. I am not really sure why I had managed to not be aware of it before – the wretched thing had been smouldering and intermittently combusting for a long time.
More young men in uniform, camouflage green and BSAP khaki and blue, some of them older brothers of school friends. Perhaps that was “it”, I knew some of these young men by name – although I was far too shy to speak to them.
My father always collected these men, if he saw them walking alongside the roads and gave them lifts to wherever they needed to be taken. Fellow-feeling I think, as he had been a volunteer in the Royal Air Force from 1938 to 1946. Seventeen to twenty-five. Always a friendly man, he chatted easily to these boys about something and nothing. Polite, man- talk – no stories of death or guns, unsuitable for his daughter to hear, just a gentle male conversation in the front of the car.
I listened quietly and wondered. These boys suddenly seemed to have joined the circle of the men.