What did you do in the war, Grandpa?

Last year I was in the changing room at my local gym, I had just had a shower and was towelling myself dry, I suppose you could say that I was doing a Prince Harry but it is all boys together.  A young chap stepped out of the shower; he was probably in his twenties, he was certainly not as old and wrinkly as I am.  The lad was sporting a fine set of Polynesian style tattoos across both arms and shoulders, following the current trend of his peers.

I have a tattoo on my forearm that I had done during my seafaring youth in Natal near Durban, South Africa.  It details a Springbok with the old flag of the South African Republic and was done by a Zulu tribesman primitively using a sharpened stick of bamboo.  I had it done about 60 years ago; so far back that I don’t usually give it a second thought.

I saw the youth looking at me, making me rather uncomfortable in case he had designs on my body in a “Hello Sailor” way.  I breathed a sigh of relief when he pointed at my tattoo and said “Nice ink Matey!”  Not wishing to enter into a mutual admiration society with him I failed to admire his choice of art and told him that I had mine done in the old republic of South Africa and it had been carried out by a Zulu tribesman dressed in full tribal gear including an ostrich feather headdress and he had used a sharpened piece of bamboo.  Obviously he was impressed because his next words are imprinted on my heart, he said “Cor matey! Were you in the Boer War?”

Jumped up whippersnapper, how dare he call me matey?  The ignorance of youth!  We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. . . . . . . .

About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.

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