When I was working in Basra my gig allowed two weeks R&R every two months or so. Sounds like a deal, eh? Well yes it was. Be aware however, we worked seven days a week, ten hours a day. NO days off. So do the math; we earned it. And of course we were getting shelled and rocketed and mortared regularly.
I had a stateside girlfriend back then. Actually more friend than girl. Rather platonic relationship, but we were ‘Buds’ and I loved her dearly. (Still do) And we went way back.
It was agreed by us both that once I went to Iraq we would spend our (my) R&R’s together. I flew her to Barcelona, Athens, Italy, and finally London. (She made all the arrangements. All I had to do was show up) Too easy for me.
Mid 2006 we met in London. I was ‘cacked out’ (Lenny Bruce vernacular). Worn out. Plumb tuckered. Tired. Damn tired. Spent.
She was of course not. Now mind you, this woman had been all over Europe already. London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens… well, she was rich. Catch my drift? I had seen quite a lot of Europe my own damn self. Did not hold much magic for me.
All I really wanted was some ‘down time.’
Bless her heart (and this speaks volumes of our great friendship), she let me do what I wanted, which basically meant I could sit in the flat she had arranged for us in downtown London and drink Beefeater while watching movies and smoking Marlboro’s and ranting at the current state of affairs in Iraq.
After a few days she did manage to get me out of the flat for a walk-about. We went to Buckingham Palace (one day shot there)
We went to the British Museum; saw the Rosetta stone. Another day gone.
“Lance that’s the Rosetta Stone.”
“Yep, that’s cool. What’s it say? I caint quite make it out”
“It says, ‘Shut up Lance'”
Had some fish ‘n’ chips (I preferred Long John Silvers, but that is just what an asshole I am)
Rode the Tube. (I prefer Le Metro in Paris, but what the hell)
And various other
exhausting exhilarating excursions.
“About three days before we were to part: me back to The Sandbox; she back to Texas, she asked me, “Lance, isn’t there any place in London you would like to see?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact, there is. I wanna go down to Marble Arch Station.”
“Whaaat?” she said.
“Yeah. Marble Arch Station.”
“That is a Tube Station.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Why on Earth…”
“Because it belongs to Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker. And Texas.”
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She acquiesced and off we went. Got there and I had a salutary beer to J.J. Walker and Gary P. Nunn. Then I was happy and pronounced my R&R a successful bit of Rest and Relaxation.
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