Thursday, March 27, 2003
A TRUE ENGLISHMAN GENTLEMANHere is a word picture of a very special person. I am not sure if it is OK to post a picture of this person and for security reasons I don't include one. You couldn't meet a more intelligent or sensitve guy, a nicer person . Right now he is somewhere in Iraq, doing his thing for us all for around £60 a day in this armoured vehicle.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
He is the guy who actually directs that cannon at the front of this Warrior armoured vehicle and he is a crack shot. All his guys under him like and respect him as a person and an officer. His wife is stuck at home somewhere in Germany and has absolute confidence in his motivation, resolve and his professionalism and skill. I guess over in the States there are a lot of families feeling this same sense of remarkable people modestly doing their thing but anxious for their safety. I recall that American lady who lost her soldier loved one who lamented, as she mourned his loss, that she had no chance of finding someonene that special again. This guy cares deeply for his men and they feel safe in his command. He wouldn't, I instinctively know, ask them to do anything that he wouldn't do himself. He is the sort of person you'd want around if ever anything went wrong.
The firefighters in England are striking again soon and they are already paid a whole lot more than guys like Steve are. But they want more. The pay for soldiers is unfair and yet they are out there, representing us none the less. Where's the justice in that? I've heard similar complaints from US militray families stationed in Europe. I mean they are paid poorly even though now, in this conflict, they are pivotal. This seems obscene to me, especially at this time. (The army steps in when the firefighters are on strike by the way over here.)
Now this guy is the ex-husband of the woman I love and now live with, and his daughter is my surrogate daughter. I have a real sense of looking after her for him; a priviledge. She cries for him out there and is so worried for his safety. Steve and I have talked often about his job and his role and he is a true gentleman; a military man with such a genuine understanding of the issues (the polictical ones as well). He doesn't blindly buy into the political line and he questions it. But when the call came there was no doubt that he had a fierce sense of duty and went without question. He surprised me with his insight and sensitivity, even though, in the end, it falls to guys like him, to lay themselves on the line. It is very humbling but also incredibly re-assuring for those who are deluded into thinking that the military are composed of macho guys with that Rambo sad male mind set. That just simply isn't the case.
Given the way I feel about my ex-wife, well he has been my model of how to behave after the divorce with your ex-partner. He humbled me with the way he was with Angela that taught me to be more'grown up' in my attitude to my ex-wife.He is much younger than me as well. We all get on so well together and I always welcome him when he comes to visit as does Angela.
Did you know that he and his guys have to burn all their personal effects, even the picture of his daughter we sent him at Christmas? He has to be just a name, a rank and a serial number if ever he was captured because these personal things might be used in the emotional blackmail that torturers use with captured military people.
Now I have sympathy for the average Iraqi soldier, the ordinary decent guy who has got pulled into this conflict and manipulated by those attrocious Republican guards and Sadams neo-Nazi/ SS fear-mongers who force decent people to do indecent things. What about those men who were forced out of Basra in that 14 strong colony of inferior tanks and made to go and attack coalition troops? We all know that those old Russsian tanks are no match for our machines or US tanks.( and those standard Iraqi soldiers forced to take them out of Basra knew that too.)Our tanks have a killing range of 4 thousand metres and those old tanks just one thousand, absolutely no match for those guys . It was sucicide.
I though it was wrong when the guys took down the Iraqi flag and put in place the stars and stripes.It was understandable too. I was glad they put it back again. There is that flag duality that caused me to question flag issues. The flag those marines took down represented the decent majority and had to be put back. The gesture was defiance of that ugly regime that use it as a flag of convenience.
And then I wondered about what flag I should wave a few days back. Not any more. It was re-assuring to see those two national emblems on those vehicles and , for me, that Union Jack had something to say about who I was and who Steve was. It took a conflict to help me understand that. Saint George was a wariior too and took on a mythical dragon. Equally my neigbours with a fierce sense of nationality and individualism in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are fighting side by side under the same flag; the one that unites us, especially in adversity. English armies way back went into battle crying for Saint George and England!But equally, we are a blend of those fine qualities in the other countries that make up the British Isles.
I was thinking today of those right wing fascists over here that hijacked the Union Jack as a symbol of their racist extremism. They might fly the flag but it has nothing whatsover to do with what the flag really represents. The racist extreme far right represent the worst that humans can be towards each other. There is nothing English, British or American represented in that perspective and you naturally want to distance yourself from that extreme stand point; nationalism gone crazy. We belong to a common humanity and borders and different colours on political maps and flags , in the end should have no significance in the real world, the one I'd rather live in. Flags are pretty things and the common wind makes them all fly. We have the wind in common and we don't wish to become the victims of those who pull at those emblems for their own agrandisement. The unnatural amongst us twist their scriptures and are an offence to decency. Soldiers like Steve, I hope, give them, on our behalf what they deserve.
johncoxon 12:26 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
LORD OF THE DANCE ?
When I was a teenager, I was so self-conscious and the dance hall posed a great threat to me. I was one of those things called a 'wall flower', opting for the safety of the wall rather than joining in, although occasionally I would pluck up the courage to go and ask a girl to dance. It very much depended , I recall now, on which record was playing. I felt very awkward and uncomfortable and some of the other guys looked so relaxed and , well, 'cool', you'd call it today, even though, now, I realise that, when you are self-conscious, anyone looks cool to you. I had this feeling that I had little sense of rhythm and felt wooden.
My folks were practical and old fashioned and 'cool' clothes were not an option for me and basically I wore school things. I had very little spare money too, unless I had earned it myself. I envied girls with fluid hips that just seemed to be so relaxed and happy in that loud environement where conversation was almost impossible. I needed to talk to get a sense of dialogue and maybe too to help that girl to know that I was a genuine person, fired by the belief that who I was was more than how I was dressed, how I moved or what I looked like physically. I could never make small talk easily in those days.
It was such a painful time. I recall the girls from Germany and France who came from a very different culture, to my home town, where, if a person asked you to dance, that was O.K, but it was nothing more. I felt so blessed with that attitude and so wished the girls from my own culture could have adopted the same attitude, but they could not in the main. For English girls it was a sort of 'come on' and their option whether to agree to dance with you was really, at least it seemed in those awkward days, a matter of whether they found you attractive or not. The trouble was, in those days ,it was something more for boys, it seemd to me then. If you asked and got a 'knock back', it was taken personally.
It didn't help that I had , then , such a negative attitude to myself as an attractive proposition. I was very tall but had , it felt to me, a large head and a very angular jaw, made more obvious by a range of horrifying hair cuts that just added to my sense of awkwardness. Hardly surpising how pleased I was, aged around twenty one, when a beard appeared and I grew my hair down my back. The beard was a wonderful disguise and when it arrived, a new self-confidence came with it. ( I shaved it off and rejected its protection , three years ago, when I found the antedote to previous pains; someone who, at last , loved me for myself. The jaw is still large, I am not particulary attactive in the common notion of stereotypes, but these days I like me, feel good and if you don't like that, bugger off! I am what I am and have no sense of personal vanity. I have incredible self belief.
I was always happy in jeans and a tee shirt. I have never felt any need for designer logos and cool clothes, even though, back in the awkward days, I thought clothes were important. In our most intimate moments, we face each other completley naked, and in that sense , the dressing is of no importance whatsoever. Freud said once , that dancing, was a ' vertical expression of a horizontal desire.' Now in those days, it wasn't, for me at least, about actually wanting sex with somebody,( that prospect at the time, scared me to death , but, if I am honest, that dance hall was where you went to find a gilfriend.) It seems so ridiculous now, looking back. Why could it not have been about simply having fun?
I have to say that I envy my parents' war and post war generation , because in those days , there was what we call ' ballroom dancing' ; the waltz, the quick step and other forms where it was socially completely normal that you held someone you asked to dance , just for the sake of it, nothing more; dances everyone knew and simply enjoyed performing those steps that you knew together.
During the late fities and sixties there was the jive , which I always thought was a brilliant dance form ( but could only just about manage)but later , it became a strange norm, ritual, where a man and a woman stood in front of each other, without, very often, actually touching, and waved their bits about in a self-satisfying sort of way ( at least it seems that way to me) Girls in dance halls used to dance with each other in a circle, putting their handbags on the floor while they danced. Boys would try to cut in. It was all fairly bizarre.
Recently, a lady came to our school, a Line Dancing instructor and the kids and the teachers had a whale of a time; I did too. Structured dancing is so much safer and happier; it is a communal thing, so ' normal', the antithesis of that modern form where you stand in front of someone else and wave your bits as best you can in front of them . It is such a lonely sort of ritual so often. Holding someone else is a great pleasure and that is what it is all about. It doesn't have to be sexual in that sense, but equally I think there is a human need to be with someone, dancing around , innocently or more if it is going to go that way ! In the context of this sort of social ritual, line dancing, for example, is all so much easier. To have a form and a context where this is simple fun without sinister understones is a great thing in my view. But equally, these days, with Angela, I feel absolutely comfortable, whether I am dancing holding her close, or standing in front of her, strutting my late middle-aged stuff on any dance floor. She is just so un-selfconscious I want to eat her. These days, frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damm! I was such a pain in the backside looking way back then and now I know , that the mounting years are a great advantage in giving you common sense and a true sense of what what is really important.
johncoxon 12:24 AM - [Link] - Comments ()