40 Today

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I’ve always admired the kind of man who can find himself a hairstyle and just stick to it. I hope that’s what I’ve done. But I can never match the expression with which I came into the world, although I feel it on the inside most days.

I was born at eleven o’clock, fifty years to the minute after the guns fell silent in France, to find everyone silent, solemn and blackarmbanded. There were over a million alive then who fought: now there are three.

My own family were just girls in 1914-18, but I had two grandfathers at El Alamein and a third invalided out of the RAF. I’ve grown up in peace. Clive James compared that feat, in a century like the twentieth and now the twenty-first, to the old silent movie trick of standing in front of a house’s falling frontage and being saved by an open window. That rings true for me.

(Insert age-related reflections of your choice: I think it’s time for a pint)..

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5 responses to “40 Today

  1. John Terry's mum

    Happy birthday

  2. Happy B! “I’ve grown up in peace.” So have I, but my father taught me to shoot on the grounds that next time the Germans might be Russians.

  3. The newspapers are listing four veterans left from WWI – I think you might have missed Claude Choules, 107 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Choules).

  4. Happy, very belated birthday, James. Just spotted this, so apologies.