They may not mean to, but they do…

I’m a pads’ brat.  One thing I always wondered about that term is, where should the apostrophe be, and should there actually be one there?  A discussion for later.  What is a pads’ brat?  Here’s one description:

British Army slang for the child of a married soldier.

I’d agree with that.  Now, a lot of pads brats romanticise the pads brat childhood.

  • The travel: seeing Germany, Singapore, Malta, Cyprus, various garrison towns round the UK, MFO boxes…
  • Eating chips with mayonnaise poured over them.  Curry sauce!  Frikadellas!  Haribo!
  • Father Christmas arriving on the school playing field, jumping out of the Army helicopter and running into the school building with a big sack over his shoulder.
  • Eating Dad’s compo boiled sweets, etc, etc.

All very valid.  But what about the less romantic side?

  • How many pads brats got used to seeing Dad beating Mum up or engineering a blazing row so he could have an excuse to head down to the Cpls or Sgts Mess to get blind drunk?
  • How many pads brats can tell stories of rough, tough, testosterone-packed Dad “bringing work home” (euphemism) and Mum practising “tough love” (95% tough, 5% love) on their kids?
  • How many Dads got away with beating up “the Mrs” because his boss was doing  exactly the same to his “loved ones” before and after a good night down the mess?  Never mind, she must have provoked it, eh?
  • How many pads brats can tell tales (but would really rather not) of Mum knocking back that bottle of brandy most mornings (duty-free: those coupons kept the costs down) because she couldn’t cope with being in Germany while her folks were back in the UK?
  • How many wives found their kids “a bit of a nuisance,” the little dastards wetting the bed and causing Cpl and Mrs Pad to have to pay the Army good drinking money on a new mattress?  Maybe Mum should have carried out that threat to rub your face in your own urine?  After all, you did do it deliberately, didn’t you?
  • Do you remember that oddball pads brat in your class?  The one that was disturbed?  The one whose Dad liked a drink down the mess, and then made a mess when he’d come home, all over the living room carpet, or wherever he was sprawled after a good session with his mates.  Your classmate who would have appeared on social services’ radar had he been in an all-civilian environment in the UK. Surely the Families Officer would have done something?  Too messy.  Not getting involved.  Post his Dad out.  Teflon problem-solving.
  • How many good names were tarnished by idle gossip at coffee mornings during those Chinese whispers sessions?  What’s that you say?  Oh, it was LCpl A’s wife, not Cpl B’s wife?  Oh dear, never mind, it was an entertaining story, and I never did like her much, anyway.  How do you know it’s not true?  It’s the kind of thing she’d do, wouldn’t she?

Maybe Philip Larkin was right when he wrote This Be Verse.

But that first line is  true only if you let them.


One thought on “They may not mean to, but they do…

  1. Thanks for following “Tails from Paris” : We’re now following your blog too.

    If you want to sharpen your international sense of humor, we do also have a French version called “Sous nos Couettes” :

    Thanks for sharing if you enjoy it too …

    Best from Paris, France 😉

    Alix, Roxane & their bald, bold & funny (at least he pretends to …) Dad

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