So, dear reader, here we are.
I'm down at last – through squelch
and patronising signs –
'Landowners Welcome Caring Walkers' –
to find him at the bus stop.
He 'likes my bonnet' (the
Ashes sunhat you gave me, Son)
and straight off I know he's military –
and the accent isn't Yorkshire –
Army man – World War Two…'
'You must've been young!'
'Eighty-five. Work with young folks.'
As if that explains something!
I guess I must look…
interested, so the conversation…
lecture – let's be frank – it's
after all his job now: 'Historical Speaker on
Army Matters'… well, whatever it is, it
continues on the bus all the way down
to the grey-brown valley foot!
When he dings to alight, I've
heard about his First Special Force
experiences, seen his personal,
engraved medallion on a delicate
gold chain around his seasoned
neck, and we've agreed the kids
just need to be 'taken there
with words' and how you have to 'be
careful putting it right' –
they'll understand in time that
'sometimes questions can't
be answered': If Wilhelmina –
'Smart-arse kid, sometimes the girls
are just as bad…' asks
'Did you kill?' she gets to stand in for
the man who knows and
answer for him –
'Do you want to tell these kids you killed their…
'By the time I get to "Uncle" Wilhelmina's
usually in tears.
All that stuff's mine to know
and live with. Nobody knows –
not family, not friends…'
But as he tosses a jaunty salute
past the bus window from the pavement,
Images: Top - Yorkshire bus stop; Halifax station at the bottom of the hill and descending mist.Both Bev. 'Here you are - don't lose it again' victory & peace in Europe, by Zec, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, James.