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Instant editorial - just add booze

“Doesn’t matter, mate, gay or straight, don't matter where you’re from,” said the drunk man in the pub who had suddenly decided to talk to us. “You live here, you work, you pay your taxes, you’re all right. But them who’s over here on the ponce—fuck ‘em. Send ‘em home.

“I was in the army for nine years. Greenjackets. I done eight tours. Northern Ireland three times, Kosovo, Sierra Leone… Last one was in Basra. You seen those protests over here, when they burned the flag? I’ve had friends who’ve died for that flag. Fuck ‘em. They don’t like it, let ‘em go back to their own country.”

I’d overheard this guy earlier in the gents. “Look at the state of these taps,” he was saying to no-one in particular, wearing a rugby top over a shirt. “It’s atrocious. I’ll bet fucking Tony Blair don’t drink in here. He’ll be out cruising around in his four by four with that fat cunt Prescott, going ‘All right, it’s Wednesday—who we going to bonk today?’” He was right about the taps. Bits of them were missing that shouldn’t even have been removable. But how he then made the leap to the PM and his deputy cruising for talent in the armoured Range Rover is still beyond me.

He was keen to assure us, as is everyone who’s ever been in the army, that the SAS are the best soldiers in the world, mate. This may well be true. I’m in no position to make any comparisons, and anyway, the kind of person who wants to convince you of this won’t take kindly to contradiction. Best in the world, you say? Righto. No, I haven’t read any Chris Ryan.

(He also recommended the Tom Clancy book Rainbow Six, about “a team of two… no, four of every Special Forces in fucking, what’s it called, Nato”. I thought it wise not to mention how much this reminded me of another pub discussion several years ago, when we came up with what we thought was the perfect reality TV pitch: small teams from every Special Forces unit in the world are pitched against each other on a small Pacific island in a battle to the death—only they’re all wearing enormous foam-rubber It’s A Knockout costumes. “Ha ha ha—here come the Spetsnaz!”)

“That John Major, he was never a leader. But Tony Blair, right, I don’t agree with some of his policies, there’s too much taxation, don’t agree with that, but he’s a leader. He does right by Britain. And, if he sees there’s someone else in trouble, right, he sends the army, no question. Fucking Sierra Leone, mate. They was tapped in the head. Arms off, legs off, all sorts. So, boom. We go in. But what the fuck was Iraq all about? What we doing there? Don’t make no sense. Ah, I’m fucking codded, mate. Ignore me. I’m talking shit.”

“So you’re out of the army,” I said. “What do you do now?”

He works for the Treasury.

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