Monday, May 16

Reflections

I've been working away with my job and only back home for the weekends to wash my shirts and sweaty socks etc. and have my ears chewed off by Sonia. A whole weeks worth of conversation compressed into a half day ...

Another reason I haven't blogged is that the election and the associated irritation has occupied my attention for the past few weeks. You can imagine my disappointment at Saint Tone of Sedgefield getting back into power again.

On 8th May, I was invited along to the Legion Club by a few friends (some much older) to have a drink to commemorate VE day. They are quite an eclectic bunch who are not politically correct and aren't particularly inclined to call a spade a hand held, foot operated excavating device. I'll edit the comments for the forceful and colourful language that they used - I would estimate the group sitting around the table had a combined age of 500 years and a combined time serving in the Armed Forces of probably 150 years. You learn to curse fluently without repetition after that sort of experience.

David was a submariner, originally from Northampton but he was based in Blyth during the Second World War where he met and married a local lass so he's stayed in the area. He doesn't say much about his experiences but his expression when pressed for information reveals that it must have been traumatic. A tough, phlegmatic character, now in his 80's, a shock of white hair, chin scraped clean and still made out of piano wire and whipcord. he's a very talented woodworker and cabinet maker.

Cyril is physically the opposite - rotund and bald and jolly. He was in the "wavy Navy" (RNR) and served on MTB boats during the war, originally based in Dover and the Western Channel but transferred to the Med where he spent the rest of his war service around the Greek Islands and the Adriatic. He doesn't say much about things either. I'm trying to persuade him to write things down as this arm of the service isn't well documented and he was in the thick of things right from the off. He's quite bookish and well read - mainly self educated - so he wouldn't have too much trouble doing so.

Geoff and Allan were pongoes (Army) - one a tankie, like me, one a trog (infantryman), both professional soldiers and they both did their bit on D-Day, through northern Europe and later in Korea.

Then there was Paul, one of my mates from the TA (I never had much sense - as soon as I was out of the regulars, I rejoined the TA) and Dave, another TA wallah.

After remembering old mates (and surprisingly, when I started to count up the ones I personally served with, there were quite a few who were dead - some in service, others through natural causes) we got around to discussing life, the universe and the rest. Inevitably, it turned to the state of the country and the direction it was going.

Cyril made a point regarding the re-election of Tony Blair. He quoted the figures of the percentage of the votes gleaned by Saint Tone of Sedgefield (for brevity, I'll abbreviate it to STOS) and compared it to the percentage of votes Hitler got in 1933. It was surprisingly close. Once started he made a list of the similarities between the two - cronyism, secret cabinet meetings, forcing through laws and bullying the lawyers to make the laws fit his plans, a vision of how society should be and taking the country to war on false pretences. His recitation and comparison was chillingly accurate. He then went on to defend the SS which left everyone gobsmacked. However his reasoning was based on fact rather than hysteria and he stated quite eloquently that the very best lawyers in Germany at the time had formulated the laws which authorised the final solution and had them passed by the Reichstag. Therefore the mass slaughter of the Jews in particular was done under the full sanction and authority of the law. Hence his argument that, regardless of how repulsed you are by the system and the ghastly conclusion, you cannot blame the SS guards any more than you can blame the whacky antics of the various Government bodies in this country as they are both sanctioned and backed by due process law.

This kicked offf a storm of protest (as you can imagine) but Cyril is nothing if thorough. He quoted the references and books that supported his assertions and after much discussion, we came to the conclusion that the bugger might just be right. Which brought us back to STOS and his style of Government. The conclusion sat uncomfortably with the assembled population but it dawned on us that the comparisons were uncomfortably accurate.

The unanimous conclusion was that the country we had been born into was gone and that if things were to kick off again as they did in 1939, then everyone wouldn't think twice about if they should volunteer. They wouldn't! David growled "Let the *%!#**!! who are benefitting from the system go and fight for the system". Though everyone agreed that the lazy dole-wallahs who had managed to milk the system and live very comfortably on benefits would be incapable of doing what was necessary. It would violate their rights.

The numbers of foreigners (their words, not mine) in the country formed a very effective fifth column who would in time of war be a real and tangible threat. But they are the new British - political correctness forbids discriminating against them. Alan said "I didn't fight for this ...". He's rabidly anticommunist ( he saw what the Russians did in Germany, fought the Communists in Korea and does NOT have any tolerance of their defenders) and would cheerfully export all the left wingers to somewhere where their political philosophy is taken to its logical conclusion - North Korea, for example. He sees STOS as being the grinning face of Communism and doesn't like him one bit.

After much to-ing and fro-ing we decided to play a tabletop game for money.

The argument arose between the Navy lads who wanted to play Ludo (apparently a popular navy game) and the rest who wanted to play dominoes.

They were still arguing the merits of each game when I left ...

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