Friday, 16 October 2009

A Kiss from the General

Sophie and I had the very great pleasure of attending a Surrey Heath Conservative Association event last night with guest speaker General Sir Mike Jackson.

As wikipedia recounts in detail, the General whilst serving as deputy to the Nato Supreme Allied Forces Commander, famously refused the orders of General Clark (the Commander).

Russian forces were occupying Pristina Airport and Jackson was ordered to block the runways to isolate the Russian troops.

As Jackson put it, faced with the vexed choice of refusing to follow the orders of his superior officer or protecting the British national interest, 'I will not start World War III for you.' I guess another way of looking at it would be to say 'If you two super-powers want to set off a cataclysmic explosion then don't ask the British to light the fuse'.

Having coolly averted the destruction of the planet, Jackson retired as Chief of the General Staff 3 years ago but retains all his spirit, vigour, humour and presence. He is truly inspirational.

I should try and recount the General's speech. But frankly I am still taking it in - it was profound. No doubt it will come out in future thoughts and will firm up as I read his book. The memory of him refusing the Chairman's attempts to help control a barrage of questions (some angrily put) from those attending the event, after his speech, will stick with me. He waded in, all guns blazing, leaving the shattered carcases of his opponent's arguments scattered around the room. And then he smiled.

Instead of trying to recount the speech. I will record this story:

Unfortunately, yesterday was Sophie's birthday - an evening on which she would normally expect to be taken out for an intimate dinner. But having realised the clash was to occur I persuaded Sophie that it would be a great night and to 'seal the deal' (everyone's doin it) flippantly suggested that the evening might even involve the chance of a kiss from the General.

Fortunately our legendary agent had tasked me with collecting the General from the station and taking him home after the event. Driving from the station to the venue I broached the subject:

'Sir, I wonder if I might ask for your help with a matter?'


'Well it's like this. Today is my wife's birthday and usually I would take her out for a quiet dinner.'

'Ahh. Well you must man. There's still time. Drop me off and bugger off to dinner with the girl. I don't mind.'

'Well that's not quite it you see Sir. When I explained to her that we would be attending this event tonight I rather rashly held out the promise that if she went along with it there might be.. well a chance of a... well.. A er.. Kiss from the General...' (that was quite excruciating)

(Grins) 'Righto consider it done.'

Priceless.. Literally - cheapest and most memorable birthday treat Sophie's ever had. The entire assembled company (over 100 people) all sang Happy Birthday to her as well.

Apparently the kiss was great. And for good measure the General doubled it and gave her two.

How utterly selfless of the man.


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