Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Fun and VJ Day
My hostess's (who has provided me with much blogging material for the last couple of days) and her brother's father was a wonderful old geezer who commanded a mountain gun-battalion on the North West Frontier as a young man in WW2. I think I did a post about him a couple of years ago.
He was captured by the Japanese and sent to the notorious Changi Gaol, from which he became one of the very few people to have escaped. Unfortunately he was recaptured, and became one of the many people to suffer the consequences of cultural misunderstanding between the 'West', and the fanatically expansionist Japanese, as they were then.
Amongst the unspeakable things to happen to him was being forced to watch his best friend being beheaded in front of him, and this taught him a lesson he would never forget. I don't think it was the lesson that the Japanese were trying to teach him, though.
He was a big, jovial man who was wonderful with his beloved grand-children, but his wartime experiences had cast a dark shadow over him which was not dispelled by the flash of an atomic bomb at the end.
He could not bear to be in the same room as any Japanese person, and would go into a cold-sweat even seeing them from a distance.
On the last VJ Day celebrations before his death, his devoted wife went looking for him in the garden, because he had not been seen since early morning, when he had been sitting around listening to the radio or reading newspapers.
Eventually, she found him cowering in a broom-cupboard of about the same size as his cell in Changi, and he was not playing hide and seek.
I have a good friend who is a young, Japanese woman, and she now lives in Spain with her young daughter and French husband. The child is being brought up to speak 5 different languages: Japanese, French, English, Spanish AND Catalan - the language of the locality.
Although my friend is extremely Japanese in one way, she is extremely European in another, and her sense of humour is better and more English than many English people I know.
When I told her the story above, she came up with a suggestion for a practical joke which - I am glad to say - we never put into practice.
"I've got a good idea," she said, "You take F...... out in the car for a little trip, and I'll hide behind the back seat, then pop up shouting 'SUPPLIES!"
Ok, I know that the the concept is possibly a little crueller than average, but it was only a concept and it did make my hostess and her brother laugh. Anyway, there are rehabilitation programs in the United States for Vietnam vets which are almost identical, but usually involve going into a Chinese restaurant for a good meal rather than hiding in confined spaces.