Pads Brat Ways: Part 94

I’ve been off ill the past three days.  Bit of a cold/man flu.  Symptoms not important.  I think of how the pads brat/military family attitude varies from that of “bl00dy civvies.”

Had I been ill with these symptoms as a pads brat, what would my mum have said?  Probably:

You’re still bl00dy well going to school in the morning.  I’m not having you staying at home, coughing and spluttering, like you’re bl00dy well going to die, making the bl00dy place look untidy.

Maybe on a good day, i.e. when I was off my food and sweating like a menopausal woman sitting in a sauna after eating a vindaloo curry, she’d relent and even let me lie on the living room sofa and even, and even, let me watch Crown Court, with its Ohrwurm theme tune, on TV.

Mhairi, author of the excellent Diary of the Menopause blog, may hopefully one day tell us of the day her mother sent her to school, when Mhairi had mumps.  Yes, mumps, fellas!  Ouch!

Instead, the last three days, I’ve been watching Auf Wiedersehen Pet on DVD and a few documentary programmes about the fall of the GDR, Unsere Republik.  On my own.  In peace and quiet.

Today I got bored senseless and left my house to go shopping.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!

Advertisements

My Ex-Pat Grump

I think I’m going to sound like one of those Torygraph readers, bashing out a fuming letter and calling for the return of:

  • The birch
  • Capital punishment
  • National service
  • The 11-plus exam

I’m not.  But I feel the need to rant about modern society, at least, in the city of Düsseldorf.

Why do so many passengers on the S-Bahn (local stopping trains), U-Bahn (the Tube/subway) and trams insist on doing one of two things during rush hour.

  1. Sit on the window seat, bag on aisle seat.
  2. Sit on aisle seat, with window seat unoccupied.

Oh, and youngsters, using half-price child tickets, never, ever give up their seats to adults, even to Oma who’s about to join Hugh Hefner, or Frau Schwanger who’s 8.5 months pregnant and hours away from contractions.

Am I being too harsh?  As a pads brat, I come from a disciplined environment, where you do without moaning, and defer to your seniors.  For me it was a pleasure to stand up and offer my seat to an adult, without having to be prompted.

(Pardon me while I get some Brasso to polish my halo.)

Earlier this week I boarded the team home after a session down the English Library.  Lots of people standing.  Lots of schoolkids sitting, bags on the adjacent seat.

I’d like to sit here, please.

(Tut and sigh.  Bag gradually lifted by owner onto his 13-year-old lap.  A face like thunder.)

Herzlichen Dank!

13-year-old face like thunder.

A minute later I spot a harrassed mum with her 5-year-old son.

I stand up.

13-year-old with face like thunder moves bag from lap to my seat.

I offer my seat to mum with son.

Harrassed mum with son accepts offer.

Pick your bag up, please!

Mum sits down and sighs with relief.

13-year-old with face like thunder just humphs and rolls his eyes, his sense of entitlement severely breached.  Pech!

Humph once again.  I dare you.  I double-dare you…

maxresdefault

Have a considerate day, won’t you!

 

 

 

Ex-Pat Life

As a pad’s brat, I’ve been around the world, and also as an adult.  My first ever “proper” graduate job brought me to Bangkok, Thailand, for three months training back in 1995.

BKK is notorious for many things.  The bars.  Their “live entertainment” is somewhat more interesting than bingo, karoake and stand-up comics.  Watch Spalding Grey’s monologue, Swimming to Cambodia if you want to enjoy an analysis of Thailand, filled with dry, dark humour.

I spent my first Saturday in BKK with Brij, a new Indian colleague.  We were down one of the go-go bars of Soi Cowboy (“Soi” being Thai for “alley”).  Brij was by now getting rather “friendly” with one of the staff.

Ginge in Germany:

Er, Brij, I think that’s a lady boy.  They have a rather large Adam’s apple.

Brij, hand over “barmaid’s” chest:

No, don’t be silly.  She’s got a great pair here.

Ginge in Germany:

Yeah, but I think he’s also got a great pair down below…

Brij, hand sliding down somewhat lower:

Rubbish… she’s definitely a… ermmmm… er…

Now, to Brij I dedicate this fine Bee Gees hit.

Have a ladylike day, won’t you!

Rheindahlen Military Cemetery Visit

A very poignant day today.

I did it.  I visited Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.

It’s nowadays not easy to get to, now that JHQ is closed.  My advice is to drive there, or take the number 26 bus and bring a pair of hiking boots for the final leg from the nearest bus stop.

Today was a bright, sunny, warm day, not enough to give a redhead sunburn.  I kept my promise to visit the babies’ section of the cemetery, which I had made to the mothers of three stillborn babies.

The cemetery was beautifully maintained.  Row upon row of gravestones, most with corps and regimental cap badges chiselled in.  Some, however, had no regimental badges engraved, but perhaps an angel or a simple cross.  These were the babies’ graves in an L-shaped section of the cemetery.

Did I feel emotional?  Not until I saw one gravestone that read:

Aged 10 minutes.

And then another:

Aged 6 hours.

And yet another:

Aged five days.

When I saw those graves, it all became so, so real: the Kopfkino images of the struggle to stay alive, of pride and ecstacy of becoming a parent and then the anguish of seeing life extinguished so soon after it had come into the world.  And then not being able to visit the grave at the drop of a hat.  Does that make the grieving process easier, or does that make the process much harder?

And then the stillborn babies.  Society has changed in its attitudes towards them.  Until the mid-70’s or 80’s, stillborn babies were buried in the cemetery without even a headstone, as if, because they had not even taken one mortal breath, even for ten minutes, they were maybe not even “proper” babies.  I took photos of their section and explained to their mothers that I was not able to find their babies’ exact resting places.  Nonetheless, I received messages of thanks for sharing photos of their resting places, and that made the visit all worithwhile.  The following is going to sound very cliched.  As a single man with no children, I can – literally – only imagine what the mothers must have gone through.

Rest in peace, little ones.  Rest in peace.

DSC03123

Have a poignant day, won’t you!

 

 

Cemetery Visit

I was born on dd/mm/yyyy in a British military hospital in Germany.  I am a pads brat, and proud of the fact.

The army wife giving birth before my mother died during childbirth.  I did not know that fact until ten years ago, when I was living near Oxford and planning a visit to Germany.  My dad asked me to do him a big favour and visit the grave of the mother in question, which, some months later I did.  It was a gloriously sunny day.  The Rheindahlen Military Cemetery, where she was buried, was billiard-table green and very peacefully quiet.

Two thoughts occurred to me as I stood at the lady’s grave.  Her name is Margaret.

  1. When had anyone last been to see her grave?
  2. The Angel of Death could have taken me, but chose to take Margaret instead.  Even on my darkest days, I have reminded myself of that fact.  There has to be a reason why I was allowed to live.

On Facebook among the anti-Trump, “what I am having for lunch” and cute animal photos, I recently saw some posts from two army wives regarding the Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.  Tragically, these two ladies had lost babies in the same hospital where I was born.  After making enquiries of various contacts that I know, I am intending to visit the cemetery in the next few days to visit the graves of the babies buried there, as well as to take photos and video footage to share with the mothers of these babies.  As a single man with no offspring, I can only imagine the pain these mothers will have gone through, when the Army and society in general were much more “stiff upper lip” than nowadays.  Since those first two army wives messaged me, I have received two or three other requests to visit other babies’ graves.

It is my humble duty and privilege to be living close enough to the cemetery for me to pay a visit.  Door to door: about 90 minutes.  I feel it is the least I can do for my fellow pads brats and families, to pay my respects and say a prayer by their babies’ graves.

Finally…  Some years ago, I remember a story about an army wife wanting to have her daughter’s remains repatriated some years after her burial back to England, where her parents were now living.  In preparation for the planned move, the mother came over to the grave at Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.  Standing by her daughter’s grave situated among the dozens of other babies’ graves, she told her husband:

No.  Let’s leave her here, so she can carry on playing with all her friends here.  They’d miss her terribly.

 

cemetery

Have a peaceful day, won’t you!

Blood sugar diet: day 10 of 56

Today was a checkpoint day.  Nothing to do with the diet per se.  On day 1 of the diet I had my quarterly blood sugar sample taken.  Today I came back to see my GP to get the results.

  • Last reading: 7.1 units.
  • Today’s reading: 7.8 units.

An increase of 0.7 units, or 10, something I had anticipated as over the past few months, I had been overeating and less active than previous.  I won’t bore you with the reason.  (I should ideally be at 6.5 units.)

However, my GP had been briefed by his “civilian” staff (the army-speak never leaves you) that I had started the Low Blood Sugar Diet.  So, instead of slapping my wrist, our man was most positive about the diet, my efforts and results.  (He complimented me on my Redhead Days t-shirt which I was wearing.  Normally he wears a top with a witty slogan in English, eg “Cool story, bro.”  Today he did not, but I did.)

I digress.

Next steps…

  • No need to see him at the four-week point in the diet, unless I was constantly going hypoglaecemic and had lost a lot of weight.
  • Carry on, and don’t worry about all carbs, but do avoid the bad carbs, eg white bread, rice etc.

Fifteen minutes later, I left his surgery, and we shook hands.

Next weigh-in is in two days time.  Watch this space.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!

Close your curtains

The Dutch are said to be very Calvinistic.  At least, I guess, the Protestant Dutch are.   One sign of their Calvinistic nature is the fact that, allegedly, the Dutch don’t have curtains.  Yes, they even indulge in, cough cough, hum, hum, with the curtains open.  Personally, notwithstanding my Protestant faith in this 750th year of the Reformation, I prefer curtains.

Let me take you back to 1979.  Margaret Thatcher had been Prime Minister for a few months.  In those days TV often finished most evenings at just before midnight.  Saturday late evening TV consisted of:

  • Match of the Day (for the football)
  • Parkinson chat show
  • The Rockford Files (with Jim Garner)
  • Finally: the national anthem and a long “booooooooooooooooooooooooop”

Saturday evening, approximately 23:20 BST.  Victor and his two sons, aged 9 and 10, had hitch-hiked all the way from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, all up the motorway, courtesy of several truck drivers, needing to rant to somebody about their divorces, the price of petrol, etc, etc, and a football sales rep.  The final stretch from Leeming Bar Motel on the A1, to the Yorkshire hamlet of Burrill, was, however, done by taxi.

Father and sons arrived in the hamlet.  A short O-group (Army-speak for planning meeting).  Time for Army black warped sense of humour to show its face.  From the OP (observation post), near the hamlet church, Sergeant Victor (veteran of Northern Ireland) and sons notice that the living room curtains are open.   Grandma and aunt are watching The Rockford Files.

Three males tiptoe forward, using Victor’s military skills, to see without being seen, to hear without being heard.

Three males crouch down below the window sill.

On three…  one… two… three!

Three heads slowly rise above the window sill.

Two backsides leap out of their armchairs.

Three males roar with laughter.

Two female relatives feel their heart rates jumping.

Seconds later, three male relatives enter via the front door, ready for a nice pot of tea, pork pie each, sliced in two, with a dollop of Branston chutney on a small plate.

Have a Calvinistic day, won’t you!