Posted by: bravo22c | 27/03/2010


A little anecdote from my Army days. I have three good friends from those long-ago days. Of course, I have many friends from my time with the colours, but, by good friends, I mean the people who, if they say, “I need…,” I would answer, “OK,” before asking, “What?”

Whenever we three meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain, we always go out to eat, and the venue must be outside. Why?

When we were still serving, it was our habit, on getting back to barracks from the field, to sand-blast and scrub our hides, march our dirty gear under guard to the laundry, or, at least, into secure accommodation until laundry day came around, then tart ourselves up and go out to a decent restaurant for a good meal followed by a few buckets of good German beer.

One Autumn evening in the 70’s we had returned to our barracks in Muenster in Westphalia, from a field exercise which had been particularly hot, dry and dusty for a little over two weeks. We cleaned ourselves up, got into our going-to-town gear, and set off for the town. We decided to eat at a restaurant in the pedestrian area called “the Howling Bend,’ (die heulende Kurve,) – so-called because it was on a bend in what used to be the road where, in earlier days, the wheels of the trams would squeal like tortured cats, or so we were told – and, since the restaurant sign featured a tram, and there was a model tramway running around a shelf near the ceiling in the dining room, it’s probably authentic enough.

It was a pleasant Autumn evening but a little close and stuffy inside, so we decided to eat at a table outside. Part way through the meal, the wind got up followed by a spattering of rain. One of us ventured the opinion that we ought to move inside, but was out-voted by the rest of us who thought we’d probably be OK. Of course, we weren’t and it started to chuck it down. By this time though, we had hoisted a few steins. We decided that, after having been dried out to the point of desiccation over the last couple of weeks, a bit of rain wasn’t going to hurt us, so, to the general amusement of the diners inside, though not of the waiter who had to keep coming out juggling an umbrella and different plates of watery food, we finished our meal before retiring inside for a couple more jars.

Since then, we have always made a point to have a meal al fresco whenever we manage to get together, not always easy, and sometimes it takes a little ingenuity and persuasiveness to carry it off – one particular occasion in Maryport and six inches of snow comes to mind – but we manage.

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