Once we were Wilfred’s pride and joy. And Winifred’s too. We were pampered, coddled, loved, honoured and obeyed. Now we hang, forlornly, like appendices, useless, expendable organs. All but abandoned outposts of a once proud empire. We are Wilfred’s meat and two veg.
As a younger man, Wilfred was so proud of us, he couldn’t help but show us off. Not just to Winifred either, although she was his special girl and he never showed us to any other women. But the lads in the barracks, they were different. Perhaps Winifred would have understood if she had ever found out. But Wilfred would never risk telling her. No. What happens with the lads stays with the lads. That was the code. Not that there was anything unnatural about what he used to get up to with us. It was all good honest fun. Like a little music hall turn with torches and laughter after the brass had retired to the officer’s mess. He used to do impressions with us. A bit of fleshy origami if you will. Manipulating us into shapes for everyone’s amusement. “Mother Swan and Her Eggs,” “Fanny by Gaslight,” “The Ringing of the Lutine Bell,” “The Elephant’s Trumpet” all with his commentary and appropriate sound effects. Then, as a grand finale, he would make us stand to attention as Bertie Whinfrey played “God Save the King” on his mouth organ, with all the lads singing along. All good, harmless fun.
We still do one of those formations today; “The Last Turkey in the Shop.” The only thing is, we do it permanently and no one applauds us. Even Wilfred himself takes no notice these days.
Yet still we plod on. Rising and falling to the fluctuating temperature, flexing our muscle to try and prevent him dribbling wee all over the place. Not quite as successfully as we used to.
Bless old Wilfred, he still looks after us. Applying talcum powder to our tip as assiduously as a snooker player preparing his cue for that all important shot. Being careful to tuck us all away properly before doing up his zipper. He isn’t going to lose that habit in a hurry. He learned the hard way. Catching his scrotal skin as he prepared to leave the lavatories at Kings Cross Station. The Duty Sergeant found him rolling in agony on the tiles and at first thought that he was trying to kid his way out of going back to the front, but Wilf soon made him understand what the problem was, and with a little iodine applied from his first aid tin, things were back to normal pretty quickly. Although in his hurry to catch the train he forgot to wipe the tear tracks from his eyes, and all the lads thought that he had gone a bit sentimental.
Just as an old soldier likes to keep his gun in order, Wilf still occasionally likes to buff us up now and again. A token gesture. No longer in complete working order, he won’t be firing us off again. But like he says.. It’s nice to keep your hand in. And it brings back memories of the times that we did see action.