Snippets of Downshire Life – Remembrance Day
Downshire is a relatively small English county but like a pocket battleship it packs a lot in, a short but beautiful coastline, a channel port, the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and the home of the Downshire Light infantry, Nettlefield.
The Herriott’s and the Issacs’s had lived in Nettlefield for many generations and both families had been well represented in the Downshire Light Infantry over the years, and the latest were Sgt Martin Herriot and Lance Corporal Emma Issacs.
The pair were not entirely unknown to each other, even though they were in different battalions and there were more than four years difference in their ages, because Martin had briefly dated her older sister, who was also in the Downshire’s, but Martin and Emma hadn’t seen each other since they broke up, until the day of the Queen’s Birthday Parade.
The parade was held on the same day as the Trooping of the Colour by the Household Guards.
It was performed with less pageantry and was less grand than its London cousin, but was nonetheless as important, especially to the Downshire’s.
He was part of the Honour Guard and she was a flag bearer and right out of the blue she kissed him just before the Parade but never got the chance to revisit it as she went off on a training exercise with the 3rd Battalion while he remained at Regimental HQ.
In the time that elapsed he endowed the kiss with immense importance but was riddled with self-doubt and wondered if she was secretly glad that they hadn’t followed up and even wished it had never happened.
It didn’t help him that he had no means of contacting her except through official channels, which of course was a non-starter.
He just hoped that when she returned to Nettlefield he would find out straight from the horse’s mouth and put him out of his misery.
However four days before she and the 3rd Battalion arrived back in Nettlefield the 1st Battalion were deployed at short notice to cover ports and airports due to a major security alert.
By the time the crisis was over and Martin was back at HQ Emma was gone again, on a special weapons training course.
As the months went by and they kept missing each other Martin convinced himself that whatever it was that prompted the kiss back in June was an aberration, nice obviously, surprising undoubtedly, but in the scheme of things it was just an anomaly.
In November he was part of the Remembrance Day proceedings at Abbottsford Cathedral and was walking through Cathedral Park to the rallying point with about an hour to spare and stopped by the boating lake to look out across the water when he a voice said
“Nothing better to do Sergeant?”
He vaguely recognised the voice but wasn’t sure so he slowly turned around.
“Emma” he said, “I thought you were away weapons training”
“When did you get back?” he asked unsure whether he should kiss her cheek or not, so didn’t
“A couple of days ago” she replied
“It’s great to see you” Martin said
There was an indeterminate period when they just stood looking at each other as they remembered the last time they were together and he wanted to say how tortuous the last few months had been, but he didn’t know if she’d even given him a second thought in that time, so the words wouldn’t come.
There was a quiet cough from behind her and when she turned around she saw it was another soldier.
“I have to go” she said
“Oh ok, urm…” He began
“I’m flag bearer at the Parade” She said
“Will I see you afterwards?” he asked
She just smiled and nodded and then walked smartly away, and he tried to read something into the smile, but he was still none the wiser, but then she reappeared.
“I’ll meet you back hear after the service” she said and with a sideways glance left and right she kissed him
“They’ll be more of that later” Emma said and trotted away at the double and he finally had his answer.