Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Elvis Costello - Oliver's Army/Pearl Jam - Masters of War


The British Legion
Join the army if you fail...


ELVIS COSTELLO - Oliver's Army 

I was eighteen years of age, I was into Badminton, I was the number one junior in the north and one of the best for my age in Scotland. I did not drink alcohol.

My father got me a job in Inverness British Legion Club as a bar waiter on Wednesday evenings, when there was bingo. I also worked Sundays, when women were allowed and there was also a bingo session followed by a variety show.

The guys I worked with were all very hard core drinkers and would always have a pint on the counter while they did the waiting job. I was always teased that I should have at least a shandy.

One day I said what are you having and ordered the drinks and one for me. That was the start of the long slippery road of my affair with alcohol. Before long I was round for round with these guys. After work I would join then for card sessions, a bottle of scotch was always on the table. It is where I learned to play poker and brag.

It was there, that one day I was telling a guy that I was about to go to sea on a merchant ship as a navigator. I just had to go to Aberdeen for an eye test and I would be on-board a ship to Australia within the next couple of months. He told me not to go to sea because, if I do, the sea will take a hold of you and you will never ever be happy away from the sea again. I decided not to go, but there was also a girl involved, which helped the decision as well.

I wonder what would happen if did go?. I wonder where I would be now and with whom?.

I could go into the club any time, even although I was never in the Forces. The drinks were cheap. I remember getting drunk on £1. A pint of Pale Ale was 1 and 10,  about 10 pence of current money.

This was 1967 of course and before the UK went decimal. The Beatles were at the peak of their powers. Sargeant Pepper had just been released.  Dylan was holed up  in Woodstock, in the Basement. From July 1967 it became OK to be gay in the UK.

The guys I worked with were great characters and I remember one of them called Walter would always go up and sing at the Sunday concerts. He was good too. Another, Andrew held the Inter School High Jump record. Until a certain Old Pa created a new record by half an inch.

I was fit, a sports champion in athletics. I was Football Captain in the first two years of junior School. I was a Badminton Champion. All this changed that first day I had a drink.

Do I have any regrets about the life of boozing I have led since that day?.
There is no point in regretting anything.

Mines a Pint and whiskey to chase.   


PEARL JAM - Masters of War

by Old Pa

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Elvis Costello - Oliver's Army/Pearl Jam - Masters of War
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11 May 2016 at 09:26

Fabulous post Old Pa, about life's great imponderable - the big 'what if'? Roads untrodden, decisions unmade. From what little I know of you and your family, I'd say things turned out pretty darned well.

As a great man once said, '.....all you can do, is do what you must, you do what you must do, and you do it well....'

11 May 2016 at 10:45

Great post Old Pa. A sailors life for thee, you probably would have jumped ship in the carribbean - good music and good juice. But then there is always a nice pint in those legion pubs

19 May 2016 at 13:25

It's funny, like the Swede said, about the what ifs? When I failed the aptitude tests to become a heli pilot in the Navy, I was asked if I wanted to become an officer in their ranks, travel the World....learn a trade. No, I had a girlfriend and a 'job' (not a career) at the airport, opportunity missed? When my ex, Emily decided to spread her wings and go to Australia, she asked 'come with me', I didn't, I stayed for that job at the airport..what could have been? But for all those what ifs, I don't have regrets, I have a wonderful family as a result but crucially, as a result of that 'Pint', a sister, Old Ma and Old Pa who I love dearly.