Monday, 4 August 2008
The three Ws. War, Whisky & Women. A dangerous cocktail.
A picture of an old girl friend from those far off days.
The three Ws. War, whisky and women went hand in hand.
When I was in the army with the Black Watch in Cyprus we had a little war, some beer and no women. If from time to time as young soldiers we drank far too much most of the time we had nothing to drink. We had little or no money, we were kept very fit and healthy and discipline was extremely tight. When we were allowed to drink it was for a very limited time to let the steam off. There were of course no women. Those that one did occasionally see were heavily chaperoned and in any case would have nothing to do with British soldiery. The same was true whilst on leave in Turkey and Greece despite vainly falling in love a few days. Army personnel had no market value to the various mothers and aunts mounting guard over their very virginal charges.
Vietnam and the Far East were very different. I was that much older and therefore more experienced in life which was necessary in relations with women. The attitude of girls and women in general was very different in Asia to that encountered in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean. I had far more money. I was in fact very well off by local standards. I was not in the army although attached to it. That gave me enormous freedom. The principle being that although on some posts I was obliged to live on station on others I could keep a house and maid in town.
For whisky one should read beer which was the main drink although at one stage the only alcohol available in the PX was gin. Gin, flavoured with Fanta (an orange powder) and warm water, no ice being available. That was a ghastly time which put me off gin for life. On another occasion the officers mess in Vung Tau (the old Cap St Jaques) had a surplus of champagne. Charles Heidsieck if I remember. Not quite a vintage Bollinger nor even the superb non vintage Krug, of my earlier life in the Bahamas, but not bad anyway. So at times the W for whisky would become the more poetic W for wine.
As for the third W for women. The trials of war were many but at times were a relief from the trials of the feminine species. Of course women were to be loved and appreciated. One could not live without them. The real problem was there always seemed to be one too many in one’s life. Chaperones did not exist in Vietnam but jealousy was everywhere and as the old saying goes “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. I like the story I read about this girl who finding the photo of another woman in her husband’s belongings got him very drunk. When he had passed out she tied his hands and feet to the four corners of the bed. She then woke him up, shoved the photo in his face and then to the accompaniment of a beating she administered with a cane she started to interrogate him.