The Best Centurions are 15. - Part Two

Sometimes it’s easy to throw in the towel and give up. To continue with sporting analogies our visit was definitely a game of two halves.

After we’d eaten we went to the car to try and chat with Jack. Try being the operative word because saying I’m listening with Sabaton on full blast on your earbuds isn’t really listening. We kept trying, hoped for a moment when Jack would ease a little.

He got out of the car with his dad and after a while got back in and dad had managed to say enough that Jack was willing to listen. I started by explaining GTL work with music and had a pick for him. I wasn’t sure if this would be accepted or thrown at me or out of the car. He accepted and a small smile appeared.

The envelope that earlier may as well have contained the plague was again offered. Inside was Jack’s invitation to be GTL’s guest at Sabaton.

Night and day, chalk and cheese suddenly we get to the true Jack. Smart, witty, a bit cheeky. An aficionado of war. Wars plural as I learned more from him than I had at school - slight caveat, I hated school and didn’t pay much attention - I may have taught him a little. As he enjoys reading, wars modern and ancient Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is a recommendation.

We chat about war, guns, his favourite tanks, music and whilst mildly present the anxiety and hostility which is a coping mechanism to the anxiety and stress have mostly dissipated. He’s like any 15 year old is - slightly self conscious but backed up with great knowledge of war and munitions. He’s even shot a musket but gave up after the second shot left burn blisters.

We get out for photos but he doesn’t want people to see him. We chat more and agree it’s because I’m Southern that he’s not feeling the cold.

We laughed, he apologised for his earlier behaviour and speaking to mum, Pauline, later he also apologised to his parents for his behaviour. That’s the sign of someone with ethics, morals and integrity.

Yes, his anxiety and stress can be utterly debilitating and was heartbreaking to witness. But he’s a damn fine kid who, if given a chance and some time is actually a great kid as well.

We all face challenges if we’re honest ourselves. Some visible, some not, some easy to hide and pretend our way through, some not.

Jack is Jack. We’re very excited to be taking him to see Sabaton.

He’s as human as you and I. So human you get to see his wonderful smile.


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