Worth listening to at 11am today

I won't hear this myself, but may catch it later on the internet.

Plain Tales from the Commonwealth

Aidan Hartley presents a series about Britons who remained in former colonies.

4/4. Mr Chips of Chitral

At 87, Major Geoffrey Langlands is the only British resident remaining in the Pakistani Chitral valley of Pakistan, and almost certainly the only inhabitant of the Hindu Kush who goes to work wearing a blazer, tie, and polished leather shoes. He is head teacher of the Sayurj school, which aims to give a high class secular education to boys and girls in an area where religious schools - for boys only - are still the norm.

Langlands has been teaching in Pakistan since independence, for much of the time in remote tribal areas, and has been kidnapped and held hostage by tribesmen. Since the war in Afghanistan, westerners have evacuated the area, but Major Langlands isn't going anywhere. The people of Chitral have declared that he is under their protection.

Aidan Hartley meets a remarkable man.
Hartley himself is fairly remarkable. He's one of the very few journalists living and working in East Africa with absolutely no qualms about relating the ironies of the circumstances in which he lives and works. Very well worth reading his semi-autobiography, 'The Zanzibar Chest', and his regular pieces in the Speccie.
Unfortunately I can't log on to the Beeb radio I would luv to hear the tales this old timer will tell. So much expireance of life up the sharpe end.
A couple of times a week I get to have a drink with a former RE major. He did Burma from end of 41 to 45, then came out to Thailand to help disarm jap. Last night I got him on his time before 39. Joined TA on day of Munich, called up and sent to Portsmouth same day.
He was station on the 'forts' in Pompy harbour and on west side of Isle of Wight.
His mind is clear as a bell and luvs to gossip and chat to young pups like me.
Commisioned from the ranks did staff collage and served up to about 58.
I try to get him to write it all down for he has a computer for over 20 years.
There was a BBC(?) TV programme a few years ago called "Staying on", which looked at some of the very elderly British people who had chosen to stay on in India after independence. The fellow who most sticks in my mind was a chap who'd been living in a Pathan village since the 1930's. The story (as fas as I remember it) was that he'd been a subaltern on patrol in the border areas before WW2. During a skirmish, his bearer/batman was mortally wounded and, before he died, begged the officer to take care of his family. The subaltern promised, and - obviously a man of immense moral determination - left the Army to go and live in the village where, at the time of the programme some seventy years later, he was the English head of his large adopted Indian family spanning several generations. Asked why he had sacrificed his whole career, culture and lifespan, he replied "because I gave my word", or words to that effect.

Astonishing example of an Englishman's word being his bond, and quite humbling to compare with ones own standards, let alone the chav attitudes which seem to be seeping into the current officer corps....!

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