Channelling My Inner Walt

For the past few years my normal ' duties' for Remembrance Day have been to act as chauffeur/AdeC/Batsman for the missus, the Good Padre, as she goes about her official duties at various memorial/commemorations, public and regimental.

All I need do is put on a relatively clean white shirt, fish out the regimental tie and blazer and buff the worst of the scuff marks off the brogues on the back of the grey flannels and I'm good to go.

If I'm not needed to hold on to the Padre's robes or notes for fast retrieval, the perks are that I get to sit in the VIP section, bypass the proles and get to the food and drink, while they're still fresh, at the ' reception' following. Occasionally I fill up the last row in the 'veterans' section or step in to a blank file as ' ballast/balance '. I always give way to and deference to the old,'real', vets from WWI and Korea, and, of late, the younger ' vets' who, while not having trod Flanders Fields, still have served ' where poppies grow '...

These are the guys who's gongs and ribbons mean something, well and hard earned, for, at least, sticking it out when things were rough and , occasionally, I get to shake the hand of one or two who's bling genuinely merits a gasp or two in deference or admiration for the proverbial' job well done under adverse conditions', etc..

Now, my medal' array [ LOL ] is mainly stuck to the jacket to cover the food stains and I don't pay more than occasional attention to it, unless its looking like it needs a bit of a spritz.. got the ' usual' - the Time In Without Screwing Up medal, a UN Thanks For Helping Out medal [ and accompanying Yeah Thanks government medal - comes as a set ] and my personal joke medal a Meritorious Service medal - not given for some flight of derring do which merits a TV mini-series of lurid paperback novel, but awarded [ I think ] for saving the butt of a past commanding officer by managing to get his briefing notes and slide show delivered in time for his ' presentation' to senior brass thus rescuing him from looking like a complete pratt.- though the citation doesn't say that , of course.

anyway, none of those compare to the stuff front and centre on the true veterans, now mostly stooped over canes, walkers and in wheelchairs, I know my place...

So, as per usual, I deliver the Good Padre to the next event and look to blend into the stage crew behind the curtain, when I'm informed that there is a reserved seating plan and I'm on it..oookay... follow the usher to my folding chair and find that I'm amidst the VIP Veterans --before I can sneak off.. I'm also saddled with a minder -seems all us' vets' have been assigned an escort- an earnest young 10-12 year old student- who will sit with us and later participate in some pageant/presentation...

well, the usual ceremonies unfold, anthems, Last Post, Lament, etc. wreath laying, prayers and puffery by local politicians.. then the student minders get up , one by one and give a brief presentation on the 'special guests'.. Cripes!!.. The boys and girls had' researched' the events, battles, etc. that the guests had been involved in or the exploits that resulted in their chests full of foil stars...[ damn Google!!] I'm third on the list [ seems their going in alphabetical order not by years or such...].. ' my kid ' gets up and begins to tell, in excited and lurid detail the importance of ' my service '!! Seems that during my rotation something of a relative wow factor happened somewhere - I don't ever recall hearing about it or remember anyone getting excited/upset at any HQ or post when, and if, it did occur.. the only ' excitement' I ever had was one day attempting to prevent two kids from following their escaping goat into the verboten Neutral Zone - the incident being duly recorded in triplicate in the daily log/report...

Anyway.. after hearing this ' extended director's cut' of the sitrep of that bygone era, I can tell by the enthusiastic applause that people are thinking my medals mean something..I'm sweating over what the others on the dias are thinking - when compared to their' exploits' and the situations they faced in their time/day, my puffery festooning my pocket might as well have come from a cracker jack box- those men know the truth and can read it in the ribbons.... I was hoping that, by the time the other kids got through their presentations of the other guests' adventures, that mine will be buried and forgotten..Felt very uncomfortable sitting there trying to ignore my minder as he stared at me and my tarnished brass with hero-eyes..

Mercifully, the ceremonies ended shortly and I headed for the coffee urn to grab a hot brew and hide in a corner with my styrofoam cup and biccie.. One canny Korean era vet thought ahead and some of us shared his coffee-reinforcement liquid which he kept in a discreet flask for medicinal use only. I think I managed to steer the throng of munchkins that swarmed around toward the deserving oldsters and the newly returned ' vets' from recent ' unfortunate locales '..

On the return home I grumbled about the turn of events.. oops.. turns out that the Missus thought she would thank me for my unsung support of her duties over the past years and this hectic week by, adding my name to the ' veterans list ' ,when contacted, so that I could get some recognition and applause, be appreciated, as she called it , not just skulk in the shadows...

Damnable Wimmen!!

I need help plotting my revenge...
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