Very recently thanks to cyber land I traced my old army colleague Glasby, (mentioned in a few of my poems, the meeting is commemorated in Reunion): at that meeting I learned of the death of another colleague years ago in a train crash. This poem has been on before – forgive me for publishing again in his memory.
Slanje Jock - keep the beer cool for us.
We thought he was old even then,
red faced and broken veined
but he'd seen real action
while we'd only trained.
He said he marched the Effeld road
in forty four or maybe forty five
and he seemed bemused
that he was still alive.
He drank the beer we bought him
and always paid his way
I think it was the hangovers
That helped him through the days.
He talked about Scotland and his other life
up there in Glasgow with his family and wife.
He'd get drunk with dignity
and was happy with his way:
he made me forget the bad
and live for every day.
Last orders brought that crooked grin
and he'd amble carefully out of sight,
but he'd be back in the mess,
same place, same time, next night.