Perhaps its as well that every ex-infantryman does not insist on your listening to his experiences on, or in, some far off soil; or such came to be my belief, as a school boy when every Saturday morning I went around to "Old Brady's" to pay the club money.
At first I sat beside the dull coke fire and eagerly waited the 'old man' to tell me more about his youth in Tell el Kabir and Mejis el Bab?. It was cosy on those Saturday's in the thirties, beside a fire with a cup of tea and listening to stories such as are not told today. But alas, as the saying goes, familiarity breds contempt. I still called to pay the club money but with much less eagerness. The same old tales began to send me to sleep! What a pity that such a great old man couldn't find a wider audience and what a pity that his stories didn't sound a warning of things that were shortly to be.
The old man had served throughout WW1 with the Lincolnshire Regiment and now in his early forties, this ex carpenter, unemployed, very proud, a little boastful, was ostracized, simply because he was out of work.
If I'd benn adult enough and worldly wise enough, I might have questioned the old man. Instead of sitting there, week by week, nodding off and arousing his anger: as I said he was a proud "old man."
His crime was that he'd trusted; was that he'd followed and he'd believed, and now hardly middle aged his living had finished, his future was his past. That's all he had to live for, his momories!
As I sit here almost half a century on, an exinfantryman with similar experiences to Old Brady, I see myself as no better off than the more prosperous workers of his day. I too followed and believed, admired and respected, but I know something that poor old Brady never knew. I knew that those I followed, admired and respected were not gods, or even supermen, and come to think of it they didn't lead at all, no more than they did in his war; they pushed, with an attitude of self assured superiority. Used me and my generation just as their compatriates of WW1. had used Old Brady's generation.