Baggy shorted geezer meets Lovely, Balding, Author type geezer ...
Anyway, as ever my memory doesn't help me here but I have a flavour of a memory that I'd like to share ... the first time I met Derek I had this feeling of ease. It might not have been apparent to him when I read his account of the meeting in the foreword of 'Words of a Wolf'. I can't remember how I came behaved, acted or what I said ... but I know that he was easy to talk to and that he was a good human being. That part of Derek thomspon is evident to all that meet him. He speaks the truth and doesn't play mind games. These are qualities I admire ... but they're enhanced when the person is also a caring, compassionate and sensetive.
I had to go to a medical in Plymouth I think, in order to be assessed re my PTSD and I didn't know anyone that could help me, as I was feeling very anxious about having a psychiatrist, sanctioned by the War Veterans Agency (as they were called then) ferreting around in my mind. I think Derek actually offered to go with me.
I was tight as a drum on the trip over and I didn't even have the head space to consider things from Derek's perspective. He was sitting next to an emotional bomb and the vibe must have been leaking out. But I trust him and when he talks to me I feel calmer and that's how I got through this. I trusted him enough to have him present throughout the interview, which laster over an hour I think. Every scar to do with serving in Northern Ireland was opened up and at one point, I don't know whether it was intentional or not, the psychiatrist pressed a trigger that got a severe reaction and he was warned that I'd take his head off if he carried on down that path of questionning. I feel myself tensing up even now as I write that memory.
I don't know what Derek was thinking as he sat there listening to the wounds being opened up to satisfy the probing of the system. Maybe he'll share some of his thoughts of his own feelings here, as part of the reason for this blog is to help educate and inform friends of sufferers as well, in the hope that that they'll know what to expect if accompanying someone on a similar event.
The agency assesses us every now and then to make sure that we're getting the correct level of war disablement pension and it always causes further trauma. It takes months to calm down sufficiently enough to carry on with life without being a walking bomb .. and I still don't tell them everything ... because there are some thoughts and feelings that have to remain in the darkness of my soul ... and need to be buried there ... but I can feel those thoughts and memories pushing forward whenever the system probes me.
When the interview was over I turned myself back into forces mode. I handed myself over to Derek and started shutting down, so that I wouldn't have to speak to anyone. I didn't trust myself to be civil to anyone and I didn't want to risk hurting anyone, emotionally or physically. Derek is safe .. I love the guy and would never do anything to hurt him ... certainly not knowingly. Derek was now in charge of me. I felt sufficiently traumatised by the interview that closing down was the only option and the only time I've been safe in the past ... is with other NCOs in the forces - well, the ones that knew what they were doing. I felt that security within Derek.
We got onto the train for the journey back to Cornwall and we'd already worked out the plan. I was next to the window and there were only 2 seats together, forward facing but near the exit. No one else could interact with me and risk setting me off. We ordered whiskey and I kept drinking whatever was there. It was like being back in Northern Ireland. Those times when some of us woud come off duty and drink so much to try to reduce the stress pains around our necks, just so that we could try to sleep ... but we'd never get drunk, coz we were keyed up so tight. That's how I felt on that day with Derek, keyed up and tight, vulnerable, yet dangerous ... yet safe with my friend and he got me home okay.
Happy Birthday Derek ... I miss you mate. Thanks for being there for me ... and thanks for your friendship.
Ps .. he's older than me!