Thursday, January 12, 2012

A German Soldier's Helmet

Not long after the last woolly mammoth closed its eyes and lay down to die in the frozen wastes of an ice age that was drawing to its frigid conclusion my male staff was born. Seven years later his father had had enough of the brat and went to Aden. He was in The Royal Air Force and insisted it was they who sent him away. Having lived with my male staff for almost two years now, I feel certain that he volunteered to go because he felt that life in a war zone would be easier than being at home with his obnoxious offspring.

In Aden the natives were getting uppity, wanting to kick out the colonials. It wasn't a great place to be. There were daily shootings and hand grenades were being lobbed about like confetti. Still, better to be there than locked in a house with a seven year old kid. Before he left, my male staff's dad asked him if he'd like him to bring him something when he returned in six months. Knowing his father was heading into a war zone he said, "A German soldier's helmet." His dad sighed and left, returning after his stint of duty with an amazing radio controlled toy car. The German soldier's helmet was forgotten.

While his father was away in Aden dodging casually chucked grenades, my male staff spent a lot of time with the next door neighbour - Mrs Hardy, a kindly old lady whom my male staff always referred to as Best Friend. One summer day Best Friend found my male staff and his his girlfriend Janet aged seven, (He's always been one for the older woman.) playing an innocent game of doctors and nurses in a quiet corner of her garden. Janet was cradling one of her dolls against her chest.
 "What are you two up to?" Asked Best Friend with not a little trepidation.
 "Janet's just had a baby." Piped my male staff.
 "Goodness!" said Best Friend. "Where did it come from?"
 "Out of her froat. Where do you fink?" Best Friend breathed a sigh of relief and that was the end of my male staff's medical career.

Not long after than his hamster died of suspected alcohol poisoning. Remember Jenny?

My male staff organised a state funeral for her. I think he got the idea from watching Winston Churchill's funeral on their black and white telly. His mum, Mrs and Mrs Hardy, Janet and her mum and dad were all invited. Everyone stood in the back garden wearing black, except for Annie his pet lamb, while my male staff with as much dignity as a seven year old kid can muster lowered Jenny's shoe box coffin into her grave, which had been dug earlier by his mum. Then he stood smartly to attention, his large plastic US army soldiers helmet crammed down over his ears. He sang a quick verse of "All Things Bright and Beautiful", saluted crisply, then turned on his heel and marched inside to make a start on the sandwiches and cakes that his mum had prepared for the occasion before the others had time to join him and snaffle all his favourites.

I was going to add that all this happened in more innocent times, but that really wouldn't be true would it? The British, including my male staff's dad were fighting the Yemenis in their own country and the Americans were fighting the Vietnamese in theirs, having taken over from the French. JFK had already been assassinated and his brother Robert had only three years to live before he went the same way, as did Martin Luther King. It was the year that Malcolm X was shot and killed and in South Africa the Apartheid regime was at it's brutal height. Why am I telling you all this? To prove a point. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.  

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