Learn Your Lessons Well

Two mature gents at Victoria. Both ex military police. Both seen active service. Both three sheets to the wind. One of them, Jim, siddles over for a harmless flirt. Asks me what I’m doing Tuesday. Would I prefer St Pauls or Westminster. I say nothing and is he free at 3:30? He asks if I can do 2:00. I explain I regrettably have a meeting. He laughs. Shakes my hand. Introduces himself. Starts talking. Him and his mate come up to London once a month for a bit of a session. He’s funny and direct. Jim tells me he gets into trouble. Young men threaten him for chatting up their girlfriends. He’s clearly hurt and disappointed. What happened to a British sense of humour. He loves talking to people. Making people laugh. The boys in the mess all try to make each other laugh. He proudly tells me the language used would make a whore blush. Well, you got to laugh. He starts to tell me about seeing his friend get his legs blown off. He stops himself. Apologises. Keep it light Jim, he orders himself. He tells me about marching at the Cenotaph. How he wants to remember and reflect but there is all this noise and clapping. But why. Why are they clapping. They don’t know what they are clapping for. His job was to go kill people. That’s what he did.
They find another ex service man. A Falstaffian blaggard in a Chelsea beanie, who was in the Engineers. They are sitting together talking. Sharing stories. Brags and blow outs. They are talking of loss. Followed by cracking a dirty joke.
If nothing else, this is a masterclass in treading lightly.

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