It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Friday, November 02, 2007

Uncle John

My mom's eldest brother was John. He joined the Black Watch and served throughout the war. He achieved some distinction in winning the Military Medal... a couple of steps down from a VC. He was in Europe somewhere and there were a bunch of Generals on a hill looking at the battlefield through their binnoculars when they came under fire. Uncle John grabbed a Tommy Gun and gutted the Germans and won his medal.


Well. Some years later I was a Master Cadet, selected to attend the Annual Camp in Banff, Alberta. It was a lot like Outward Bound. I was given the nickname 'Gator'. We had these Belgium mountaineers teaching us to repel and climb. The nights were freezing but when the sun crossed the mountaintops you were sweating. Fortunately, I had fake ID (courtesy of the Army) and we attended a session at the Banff Springs Hotel. Before Texas, it was the largest bar in the world. We're talking about a parking garage in the basement, where beer was delivered by the cartload for 25 cents a pop.

We were running a little low on doe so we decided to buy a couple of boxes and climbed this rather big hill. Unfortunately, we were in plain sight and somebody called the RCMP. Fortunately again, they were rather fat and as they climbed the hill I rallied our defences and used the only weapons at our disposal.... empties. We lobbed them at the cops and more often than not they rolled to the bottom, to our absolute delight. We ran out of ammo and the fellas were not too pleased to be herded into the cop cars. It was nightfall by then.

When we got back to camp the Colonel was standing in the middle of the road in singlet, underwear, and socks and garters... of all things. He was some pissed. But so were we. The next day we were ordered to wear our uniforms for discipline. I said no and put on my civvies.
Each of us was marched into the Colonel's office and he fanned out our plane tickets. "Pick one." he said. We were escorted to the airport, under guard. But to my delight I had chosen the one first class ticket out of the bunch. Which meant of course, unlimited free booze. Every time I got a drink I would look through the curtain to my mates and toast them.

When we got to Toronto various parents were waiting and grabbed their kids by ears, hauling them off to their fate. Uncle John picked me up, and laughed like a loon.

1 comment:

Fronde said...

Great work.