Although this book is fiction, it is based on a true story and is dedicated to all “the dirty little wartime bastards,” of which there were many. It is written in the first person for impact reasons. The genre is biographical.
Major Philip Baron – Book 1: “I did it my way”.
Lyrics by Frank Sinatra
I was born angry and remained that way well into my teens. I have no idea why, except I remember my dad saying to me ‘no matter how many times you kick your dog, it will always love you unconditionally’, Dad was gamekeeper and gardener for a Scottish Earl and my mother was cook and housekeeper in a cold and draughty castle in the Highlands. World war 2 had ended eight weeks before I was born. My dad was still at war with the Japanese in Burma for another eight months and for my stupidity it never occurred to me how I came about when my father was in the Far East for four years. Ignorance is no excuse and you cannot teach stupidity. So, as I got older, but no wiser, and no one offered anything remotely like an explanation I simply turned my anger into the solution for everything, not that anyone seemed to notice or care anyway. When in doubt, kick the dog.
Life is what happens to you while you are busy planning what you will do next. I was about four years old when I realised that it wasn’t just me. Everyone in that house was angry. My mother and father argued continually, the Earl locked himself away in his study with a bottle of brandy, his wife embroidered the most beautiful designs and when they were finished she threw them on the fire and began another. There was no social life in that cold, dark rambling piece of history. People didn’t talk to each other and generally avoided walking past each other in the long, wide passageways, not that I cared anyway.
Their two sons died in the war or just after, leaving a daughter and daughter-in-law, but no grandchildren. At the time, I had no comprehension of this implication and continued exploring the secret passageways and priest holes. The world was changing quickly, the centuries-old upstairs, downstairs simplicity was passing on as all history must. The Government began imposing ridiculous taxes, confiscating lands, homes, farms and anything they could use to make money to pay back the Americans the $69 billion dollars we owed them for their support in the defence of Europe. They flatly refused to join us in the war, but were happy enough to “loan” us machines of war, old rust buckets as my dad called the ships, planes and tanks. Even after a U-boat sank a US Coastguard ship in American waters, their resolve hardened, and this came back to haunt me 30 years later in Vietnam.
My half sister said that it was because America didn’t understand war as no bombs had ever fallen on American soil. It was inconceivable that just over 50 years later terrorists would fly hijacked commercial airliners into the Two Towers in New York killing thousands of innocents from over 280 countries and begin a whole new definition of war and what it meant.
The old man had never spoken to me, although I did catch him staring at me through a partly open door before scurrying off with his bottle of brandy. When I spoke to my mother about it, she just told me to ‘bugger off’. My dad simply shook his head and snapped “you can’t blame him, poor kid”. They glared menacingly at each other and I managed to slip away before the real combat began.