It's St Patrick's day. Not an event that impinges much in Borsetshire I'll grant you. But for one of my regular customers it does. Michael is an Irishman, long-time resident in blighty. He's a veteran of D-Day, fighting for the forces of what, to many of his countrymen, was still an occupying power, and remains so to this day. He was quite clear what he was fighting for, and against, and never has voiced one word of regret, despite the fact that a mortar bomb shattered his right shoulder a day or two after the landings. He has lived with the painful reminder of his war service every day since. And though he commented on the pain it gave from time to time he never really complained.
Late last year his shoulder got bad enough to stop him keeping up with his domestic chores and so he finally bowed to the ineviatable and accepted an orthopaedic referral, and soon after a resurfacing procedure. This replaced the shrapnel of '44 for some swanky new stainless steel. "So now if I fly in to Belfast I suppose they'll be whisking me off to Long Kesh!" he comments with a wry smile.
He came in this morning, six weeks on, to request some more pain relief. He is now pain free at rest, for the first time in sixty years, and is slowly getting the power back in his arm with the help of the physio's.
Tonight he will be raising a glass or two in honour of the day, left handed, but in good heart. Meanwhile he has a "cert" running at Cheltenham, so he left me for the bookies, and I hope he has won.
The name of his chosen bet?
"War of attrition"!