Back to the Front

Upon my release from hospital, I was deemed fit for active duty.

Instead of the lighter assignment I expected, I was put right back into the shit.

I wasn’t having it, and went absent without leave.

I decided to have a drink at the Royal Pennyburn hotel bar, a place which is invisible to anyone who isn’t hallucinating.

There was an Englishman sitting at the bar. Normally, I would have asked for him to be removed, because “give us us free” like the man in “Amistad” said. But I couldn’t be arsed with it.

I sat next to him.

“Dreadful weather,” he said, which when translated meant “On this day, and this day only, I will acknowledge your humanity.”

“Aye,” I replied, which was an implied consent in the face of the fact that we were about to have a conversation.

“I can detect by your accent,” he said in that Sherlock Holmesian sort of tone that some of them have, “that you are from the north of Ireland. Derry, is it?”

I just nodded. I didn’t want to correct him. We have far too many tourists as it is.

“I served in the army for five years in Northern Ireland, did you know that?”

I had no idea, and I attempted to say so, but he was well invested in his own narrative by this time.

“And you’re Catholic, aren’t you?”

“Last time I checked, yeah.”

“Do you know,” he said, leaning in a bit, “that I found you all to be a lovely sort of people. You wouldn’t guess that, would you? But I did. And it seems to me that all of your bother has nothing to do with us at all, but rather with those dreadful Scots Presbyterians.”

Again, I did not want to give him a history lesson or a geography lesson or any sort of lesson at all. I was desperate to have my drink and be on my way before ill fortune befell me.

And so I said, in reply to his statement, —

“I don’t suppose there’s anything you can do about it, is there?”

He looked genuinely taken aback and saddened.

“I’m afraid not, old boy.”

The next day I was summoned to court martial.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Back to the Front

  1. Monochrome nightmares says:

    A grand story Oglach.
    I hope there’s another instalment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. the senseless madness never seems to stop…a perfect ending to a well-wrought conversation…both of the characters fleshed out wonderfully in their brief stay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      The madness does not stop. We have to make up our minds—as individuals—to get off the ride. It is a construct. Bound to erode and collapse.
      Many thanks for your always insightful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good story, looking forward to hearing the rest . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story.. thanks… so many elements that are not visible to outsiders.. they just see the big picture usually presented in the press.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “I just nodded. I didn’t want to correct him. We have far too many tourists as it is.”

    Lmao! I love a story where the unspoken word says so much… your skill lies in both what is said and what isn’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. inesephoto says:

    Love your stories – both the lines and between the lines 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So many clashing cultures could have dialogs like that. The clueless Englishman means well but cannot help offending the Irishman, who has a chip on his shoulder (for damn good reasons).

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      That is the way it is. It is a genuinely difficult situation for the both of them. The Englishman has been told all of his life that he and his people can do no wrong. He believes this, and was sincerely trying to help in his military service. He thought he was there to assist an inferior bunch of people fighting one another sort out their difficulties, not realising that his own country was instrumental in creating the conflict. The Irishman has always been taught that the English are a threat, and he has seen very little evidence to the contrary. Weary of the fighting, both nof them briefly see the humanity, the fallibility in one another. They both desperately want to try and get along, but they cannot. I tried to inject some humour into the situation, but it was not an easy thing to write about.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can feel the unsaid tension between the Englishman and the Irishman. For here in India, we have a sort of love-hate relationship with our neighbouring countries. The common people, they try to trust and spread fraternity, but the seeds of distrust are almost genetically instilled.

    I always think the boundary lines between the countries are more of psychological than physical.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. skat says:

    I was missing the other story, but this is pretty damn good as well. This ain’t yer Roddy Doyle, fella, that’s for sure!

    I recently watched the Liam Neeson narrated 1916 documentary and was actually riled up by the end of it. Me da would’ve been so proud.

    Now both Kev and I are watching “Rebellion” on Netflix. I wanted to be Frances. I’m just a mad woman really. (Take that as you will.)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s