Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tales of Derring Do.

Two tales from the high powered lunch today.
The first was from a very senior ex-army man who had been given a lance corporal's stripe in the School Cadet Force, as he was destined to go into the Army.
Being a lance corp meant he was put in charge of the Bren gun. Just the one. So he had the gun, two clips, two helpers, and the job of firing off the two clips on Field Day at his school.
Cometh the hour, cometh the inspecting General, and with much hoo-ha, the lance corp and his team are called before the entire school, parents, governors and the rest.
Perfectly turned out and with commendable expertise, he flung himself down in the approved firing position. His oppo to the right slams in the first clip, shouts whatever it is that is required to let the lance corp know he can fire, and the clip is emptied in perfect bursts of 5. Opp to the left whips out the first clip, slams in the second, another perfect set of bursts.
Only... as the echoes of fire die down, the barrel on the Bren drops off. It would probably have been all right, except the lance corp, thinking to hide the problem, picks up the barrel, which of course is red hot from the firing, leaps to his feet and yells " OOh ya B*****D!".
There was a deadly hush and he was subsequently put back to Private. It didn't seem to do his future career much harm. As you know, one of the requirements of "getting on" is getting noticed. The entire British Army knew what had happened, and every time he was posted anywhere, the first thing the CO asked was " Aren't you the chap..?"
The second story was told me by the lady to my left. Quite apart from the fact that she had been engaged 4 times ( she married the fourth fiance), her mother had been a bit of a player as well.
When recently engaged to a dull solicitor from Birmingham ( are there any other kind?), she was sitting minding her own business just before the war broke out, when the fiance and his friend ( the latter in his newly joined-up uniform) came towards her. Without a blink she moved her right hand and covered the shiny new engagement ring, and managed to remove it without anyone noticing. She knew he was The One.They married nine days later, and off to war he went, and nine months later a lovely boy was born.
After the war, which the husband mostly spent in a POW camp,they tried for another child and were having great fun trying, .. only nothing much was happening.
They went to Ireland for a short holiday, and visited a shrine where the folklore had it that if you threw thruppence into the well, you would have a baby. Her father, not having thruppence, had tossed in a sixpence.
And she's a twin.
Just like that.

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