Take me back to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty

Dismounted on the prairie in Canada and wondering  how far it is to salvation in Calgary.

Dismounted on the prairie in Canada and wondering how far to salvation in Calgary.

It’s funny how even a random phone conversation can take you right back.

I was chatting to a lady on the phone for a story I’m chasing up and spelt out a name, saying “zed” and then correcting myself to pronounce the American “zee.”

“Don’t worry, I understand your ‘zed’ as I lived in Canada,” the lady interjected.

“Oh, whereabouts?”


I spent two years about three hours drive south of that fair city when I was stationed near the town of Medicine Hat at British Army Training Unit Suffield between 2006 and 2008, and in the years before had been on exercise there, also, which inevitably led to Calgary.

I’ll always have a soft spot for the city. Man, there was nothing like the thrilling transition from 27 days of sleep deprivation while training on the red-hot or freezing-cold prairie to the glistening bright realm of Calgary once the tanks were washed down, parked up, and you’d scrubbed your filthy, smelly body raw to the point you might as well have been reborn or emerged from the Mississippi after baptism.

There were some good, wild nights; though parts of them appear kind of sad now, looking back. My troop corporal, Mave, was a handsome, charming devil who looked out for me a lot during exercise, always  giving me much needed advice when I was getting lost and screwing up the whole time.

One night in Calgary I bumped into him at a nightclub and we got chatting  before he hit on this absolutely red-hot beautiful brunette stood next to us and who quickly became enthralled by him, and all I could do was watch on, admiring him, loving him and hating him at the same time.

We went to Iraq on separate occasions, as he left my troop after we finished our training. I can’t remember where I was when I heard he’d been decapitated after his armoured vehicle rolled into a ditch by an Iraqi road.

Sad. He was a good guy. Hell, I’d emerge out of my tank’s turret on exercise in our troop harbour area, my head in a nose-dive spin, a hundred things going on in there as I grappled with a map, my headset about to fall off, and he’d be over on his tank’s turret, cool as a cucumber and cooking up a fresh bacon sandwich.

“Would you like one, sir?”

Bastard. Hope you’re okay, Mave, where ever you are now.