ANZAC Day Column 2013

“Broad A_flower_field_on_the_sea_Franceshoulders, first to die!” barked the old man, and ignoring my outstretched hand, he went back to watching TV.

You know, I’ve definitely had warmer welcomes.

My mate whispered, “Sorry about that, it’s something he learned as a prisoner of war in the Japanese labour camps.”

I glared at his father, “How do you know I wouldn’t make it?!”  The old bloke sized me up again, “You’re too big!  You need too many calories.  On a handful of rice a day, you wouldn’t survive a month.  None of them did!”

“You do realise the war’s over don’t you?” I asked.

“Not for him it isn’t,” muttered my friend as he bustled me from the room.

He wasn’t alone.

My Uncle survived the horrors of New Guinea during WW2, and returned home with an absolute hatred of anyone, or anything, from Japan.  So he wasn’t exactly delighted when I parked my Mitsubishi in his driveway.  “I got bombed by that mobs’ planes!” he yelled.

“Yes dear,” replied my Aunt, “but you were bombed by American planes too.”  Apparently that was OK.

But a couple of years ago while they were out shopping, my Aunt left him sitting at a bus stop while she popped across the road.  Through the shop window she was horrified to see a young Japanese tourist, who appeared lost, approach her husband.

In spite of leaping over the checkout, running through four lanes of traffic and pushing a couple of nuns over, she didn’t quite make it to the bus stop in time.   To her surprise, my Uncle had carefully shown the young Japanese chap where to go, without once telling him where he could go (if you know what I mean).

Seeing the look of shock on my Aunt’s face he shrugged and said, “Well, look at the poor little beggar, he was just a kid… we all were.”  He’d finally made his peace.

The old bloke couldn’t forget, but he had forgiven.  He had broad shoulders.

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