Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Stockport’s Finest

17 May

Fairytale: Cpl Mark Ward gives the cup to Carlos Tevez

As much as I love Carlos Tévez who, my son tells me, was not who they had in mind when they invented High Definition tv,  the real hero in the top picture is the man in brown. 

(You can read the whole story here.)

He is Corporal Mark Ward of the Mercian Regiment: from Stockport, lifelong Man City fan, and holder of the Military Cross for bravery in Afghanistan.  He is one of the few people to have presented the FA Cup – it’s usually royalty – and as a City fan must have been over the Blue Moon.

It is Corporal Ward and others like him who are the ones who should be earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a week.  There’s something wrong in a world that values actors and sports people above the military, police, teachers, medics, bin men and others who make our lives better and safer.

We Write Poems 30

1 Dec

206 Coffins

Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.
Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.Dead.

*

*

8

 

I wrote this on the day the 206th British soldier died in Afghanistan.  It’s out of date now.

 

A Stockport Something To Be Proud Of

10 Nov

Note: the photos are not in chronological order.  Click on them to enlarge.

Today, the 1st Batallion Mercian Regiment, based in Stockport, has returned from Afghanistan and has been awarded the freedom of Stockport (see article here).  The Hub and I collected some friends and went along to welcome them home.

The regiment took part in a short service at our famous 750 year old market place (so famous I forgot to mention it in my what’s good about Stockport post) before marching through the streets, past the town hall and into the armoury.  We arrived early and found a prime spot above the Chestergate taxi rank.  Crowds were respectable, and got bigger nearer the town hall.  Many people followed the regiment through the town.

There was a large police presence; I’m not sure whether it was for traffic or protests, but everything went off peacefully.  It was good to see many of the cops wearing poppies; shamefully, some forces banned them last year.

As the regiment passed us going up to St Petersgate, the band leader did an impressive swoop with his massive baton – which was unfortunate for the soldier just behind him, who would have had a very public sex change if his reactions hadn’t been sharpened by months fighting off the Taliban.

One soldier called out ‘Thank you!’ to the crowd as he passed, and the Hub shouted back, ‘It’s us who should be thanking you.’  My hands were red raw and my arms ached from all the clapping.  I haven’t seen a whole battalion since my brother passed out in the Seventies and I hadn’t realised how large it is, but I made sure to clap every man and woman who marched by.

 

The Hub noticed that many of the soldiers were as short or shorter than him, and wondered if it isn’t small man syndrome that makes them sign up.  A friend of ours is tiny; he was a para in the Falklands War.

Once the whole regiment had passed us we drove around to the Armoury to cheer them again.  They are so young, it’s frightening.  We saw one soldier in a wheelchair, propelling himself with his remaining leg.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a little choked up: even though we know these soldiers and others are out there in Afghanistan, it’s easy to switch off the news and forget them; and many people do.  I felt incredibly proud of each and every one, and if you are reading this and have a loved one in the military, please know that some of us are grateful and humbled by their dedication and bravery.

There were many Gurkhas in the regiment, wearing their distinctive Khukuri knives.  As they walked through Stockport after they had been allowed to fall out, most of them were still wearing them.  It is said that, once drawn, the Khukuri may not be sheathed again until it has drawn blood.  I believe Stockport youths have the same tradition about their knives on Saturday nights out.

We were amazed to see soldiers walking into McDonalds; I can’t say it’s the first place I’d go after months in Afghanistan.  Surely Army food can’t be that bad?

        

Bad! Moon Rising

9 Oct
Cottage Pie

Image by smileykt via Flickr

A late post today because we’ve had visitors.  An old school friend of mine and her husband came bearing dinner: home-made cottage pie; yummy.  Friends often bring me food; I’m not sure if they feel sorry for the Hub or they believe for no reason that I can think of that I have cooking issues.  It happens so often that the Hub says where other people have take-out, we have take-in.

It should be me looking after her, really: she has just waved off her brave and lovely eldest son to Afghanistan.  She said that about fifteen people went to the station to say goodbye and everyone was blubbing or tittylipped so her strapping young soldier boarded a packed train, found a vacant window, and mooned the lot of them.

Afghanistan has no idea what’s about to hit it.

 

My Work Here Is Done

25 Jun

My four-week work placement ended yesterday, so now I can give you all the gossip: they were three lovely people who made me feel a part of the team and bought me chocolates and a 50 books you must read before you die bookmark as a thank you.  Sorry, I don’t do gossip; I’m too busy talking about myself.

I had a great time; I learned a lot about Excel; and I know that I can go back to work after twenty years without too much adjustment.  But for now, until a job comes along, I can go back to doing what I do best: eating Maltesers and playing on King.com. 

I’m giving myself next week off and then I am going to paint the downstairs toilet.  As this will be its third outfit, it is officially the most-decorated room in the house.   It needs to be, as it has played host to many a guest, including a rat (uninvited) and a postman (self-invited).  There was a hole near the pipes and a rat came up for the winter and squatted in my house.  The council exterminator did his job but the rat must have crawled inside the wall instead of doing the decent thing and throwing himself into the outflow, and the house stunk for months.  We spent half our grocery budget on air fresheners but we saved loads on the heating bill – no point warming a house that has every door and window open for three months.  No cold came in through the toilet, though: the Hub made sure to cement that hole.

I still feel guilty about that rat – what is it with me and rats? – who was just doing what rats do; I sometimes wonder if future archeologists will excavate my home and find a four-legged skeleton next to a paw-written note in the dust: I was poisone…

The postman was a less troublesome visitor.  Our regular postman was away and a temporary postman knocked one day, to deliver a package too large for the post box.  He was young, new and nervous.  He was fumbling through his bag, talking all the time, trying to find our parcel.  He finally located it tucked under his arm.   I only knew he was a postman by his bag, because he was wrapped in a huge black parka, fur around the hood and all I could see were his eyes until he smiled.  I heard his accent and asked if he was South African.  Imagine a strong accent: ‘No, I’m from Ghana.’  I told him we had lived in South Africa and he took my hand and shook it warmly and lengthily. 

Still holding my hand, he asked, ‘Can I urinate here?’  I have always wondered what postmen do when they need to go, and now I know.  If you live long enough, all questions will someday be answered.  I replied, ‘Yes, of course.’  What else could I say? 

I opened the toilet door, switched on the light, and he went in, unzipped, and did the business.  I know this, because he didn’t bother to close the door while he did it.  He must have really needed it because he was ages.  He came out without washing his hands, shook my hand again, asked for directions to the next address, and left me to clear up the puddle on the seat and floor. 

What a nice young man.

At least he wasn’t a dopey young man, which is my clever segue into the saga of Son of Dozy

Bad Heir Day

Spud was out playing football at the park downhill from the house, when the dog decided he wanted another walk.  He mithers and mithers and it’s just easier to do as I’m told.  As it was cooler, the Hub offered to come with me up to the park at the back of the house.  The Hub went on ahead while I locked up and it was just then that Sulky Spud arrived, furious to have lost his £15 World Cup Football (paid for with his own money, hence the fury).  He and his friend had spent forty minutes looking for it in the mass of bushes where he had kicked it.  He was quite upset and when I told the Hub, we decided to take Spud and go look for it with him.  The Hub waded into the bushes and found it within a minute, uncharacteristically forbearing to admonish his silly son for searching with his eyes closed.  Spud had a kickabout while the Hub and I chatted to another dog owner; the Hub then gave Spud some advice on back-heeling the ball; had three touches and a heart attack; and we meandered home.  Poor Hub: it was uphill all the way.

We had just arrived back when Spud clutched his pockets, anguish in his face and cried, ‘Where’s my phone?’

He was ordered back to the park with my phone to call his phone to locate it and every ten minutes called the home phone to report that there was nothing to report.  Making unnecessary phone calls is what teenagers do best.   The last call reported that there was no money left on my phone, so the Hub and I were ordered to come down to the park with the Hub’s phone.   I insisted that the Hub drive down this time as he would never make it back up the hill, and Toby couldn’t believe his luck at going out for a third time that day, especially in the car, which he loves.  Alas, the Tobester was destined to be disappointed; we had just pulled out of our road when we saw Spud running and waving his phone.  He couldn’t call us to tell us not to come because making necessary phone calls may not be what teenagers do best but they need credit on their phones when they do do it.

At least he ended the day in possession of the things that matter most to him: phone, ball, dog and doting parents.  He was most grateful but I wouldn’t bet on him remembering this day next time he’s mad at us.  Being mad at parents is what teenagers do best.

*

I have been so busy this week that I haven’t had much time to write, though I did manage this reverse senryu for Writer’s Island.  The prompt is ‘change’.

Afghanistan, 21/6/10

Three hundred dead, and counting:
no change there, then.  Brave
men, women, all: no change there.

*

I want to end on a sunny day note so here is something someone posted on Facebook that I thought you might like:

Remembrance Day

11 Nov

I read about something called a snowball poem at the weekend: first line has one letter, second two, and so on.  I’ve had a go but it was much harder than I expected to write something with those rules that made sense.  Given what day it is, I have gone with a remembrance theme.

 

File:Unknown-warrior-london.jpg

Remembrance Day

 

I,

as

you

died

there,

memory

claimed.

Precious

sacrifice

remembered.

Anniversary.

Remembrance Sunday

8 Nov

War Memorial

 

I place my hand on

a name – any name – and pray.

I give thanks to a

 

God they despaired of;

thanks for their grave sacrifice.

So many lost faith.  

 

They died.  I live. My

freedom to pray, to believe –

or not – their great gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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