Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll …..
Who Are You Tommy? Or rather, who were You?
Today we stand in remembrance of you, the fallen soldier. How many of us ever knew you, how many of us would have wanted to know you when you were alive?
Now you are feted as the ‘cream of British manhood’ – the Queen will bow her head to you – but when you were alive, who were you, what were you?
You weren’t that bright – you weren’t behind a desk in Whitehall directing operations, you were out there in the firing line. You weren’t that articulate – it’s not you the media interview when they want to know how the war is going.
Did you not fancy a job in the local steel works, or were there just not any going? What did they teach you at school – not quite enough to make it to university? Not even quite enough to get a job in the local job centre. Born in the wrong part of the country to be a ‘city trader’?
You were never going to be invited to smart dinner parties, no chance of your home featuring in the glossy magazines. One of life’s losers, Sharon said, when she dumped you.
Big lad, were you? Bit of a bruiser, given to a few too many fights after the disco turned out? Can’t have happened often, you were only just old enough to buy a drink. Only just old enough to vote. A few years ago you couldn’t even have married without Mum’s permission.
Those airbrushed women in the magazines weren’t queuing up to marry you though, were they? I hope you had a few fumbles with Sharon or Tracey – maybe you’ve even got a son now – but they weren’t queuing up to wash your socks either.
Your Mum had only just stopped nagging you to wash behind your ears when the sergeant major started nagging you to clean your rifle.
You’d escaped from a life of being the butt of advertiser’s jokes, the archetypical ‘English male’ – can’t figure out how to get back from Hong Kong without a women snatching the laptop and exclaiming – such brilliance – ‘we’ll get a plane’!
You escaped from the Dole queue, from Mum’s nagging, from a United Kingdom where you really weren’t wanted, or appreciated.
You’ve got a heart of gold, the regiment taught you things you never imagined, you remade your family amongst your mates – you would, you did, give your life for them.
Just look at you now baby face – for a whole two minutes, the great and the good will extol your virtues.
Enjoy your two minutes of fame and high praise. It’s more than your mates will ever get.
All you had to do was die. For us – and all the others who weren’t on the front line.