Monday, November 24, 2008

A man is nothing without regimentals

I could hear the sound of Elgar with a Dimbleby voiceover – it could only be the television coverage of Remembrance Sunday. I came downstairs from some of my chores to find Maude marching Aurora up and down the living room in time to one of the slower movements of ‘Pomp & Circumstance.’

‘I do love Remembrance Sunday! It should be compulsory in schools. Never mind ‘Lest we Forget’, most of them don’t know anything about it in the first place.’ Aurora mimicked Maude as she saluted the Chelsea Pensioners.

‘We really must take Aurora to the Menin Gate when she’s older. Oh, and bring back plenty of cheese and coffee of course….’

Maude enjoys a bit of military pomp. I joined her and Crawford on a pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Tattoo a couple of years ago. All went well until Crawford got over-excited and showed his enthusiasm for the Royal Irish Regiment by discharging his Luger into the air. The police didn’t press charges – Maude successfully argued that her father had exposed their woeful approach to stadium security. I had only previously seen the Luger when I asked for Maude’s hand in marriage. Augusta assures me to this day that Crawford only fired into the fireplace on that occasion to express his delight at the prospect of my joining the family.

‘Men look so splendid in uniform don’t they?’

I guessed that this was rhetorical and left my wife to her reverie.

‘All of them. They all look so…..impressive.’

I smiled across from the Norton Recliner – happy that Maude could derive so much pleasure from such simple things. In my peripheral vision, however, I could see that her attention was breaking away from the television and turning towards me.

I was still in my dressing gown and sandals (I couldn’t find my slippers). My fungal big toenail was, sadly, visible. I knew also that I had not found the time to remove the porridge that Aurora had rubbed into my hair earlier: the little poppet had shown off her dexterity by tugging Daddy’s hair on end with porridge as ‘product’. I looked like Stan Laurel relaxing. Maude’s gaze grew heavier and more discomfiting – I could tell that she was about to speak. I suddenly felt tense and returned the recliner to its upright position.

‘Couldn’t you at least join the TA?’