Asperities

Journal of the Plague Month

On the day that Britain declared war against Germany in 1914, my grandfather, a Boer War veteran who managed a pub on Liverpool’s dock road, disappeared for some hours from the bar. As my grandmother feared, he had gone to rejoin the colours. When asked if he’d been in the army before, he denied it, fearing that he’d be held back to train raw recruits. Though he tried to appear as raw as possible, he was called out from the first exercise in squad-bashing by a sergeant-major who had rumbled him. “You’ve been in the Army before, son. And you…

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