Went to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the weekend. Got more profoundly and thoroughly wet than I have ever been in my entire life - including baths. Two hours sat in the pouring rain. Luckily I had bought rainproof suits for the two boys. This is a tip I have picked up from other mothers up here. When I ask them what they do when it rains, they say they put the children in their rainproofs and send them out in it. Spartan really. Anyway, I took a leaf out and picked up the suits at the same time as the farm gates. I quite wished I had one of my own by the end of the evening.
We went to the Tattoo for the sake of the four-year-old who is in love with the idea of soldiery. I hate this. I do not want him dying, brave and beautiful, in a desert; for a dashing photograph to flash up on the evening news, tagged "Dead hero" to be forgotten, buried in the viewer's mind by the time the soaps start. A climbing wall, tree, fast car, pond, sea, war: I hate them all. Is others' motherhood so full of fear or am I just a fright filled soul? My more valiant son pointed to a picture in the programme of a fusilier, all gilt braid and towering bearskin marching at the head of the massed, kilted pipers. He said: "I am going to be him." I said: "Soldiers have two jobs: to kill people and to be killed. Neither of those is a very nice thing to have to do." He said: "I don't care." I thought: "I will take him to the ballet next time."
The soldiers did their stirring stuff with the backdrop of a misty Edinburgh castle, lit by flaming torches. Then the Taipei First Girls' Senior High School Honour Guard and Drums Corps marched in. Teenage girls do not carry the same baggage of bloody death and honour as drumming solider men. But they were young and beautiful and I smiled to see the golden plumes astride their bandsmen hats. Plumes that nodded as they marched in white pleated minis and matching knee high boots. I envied them the plumes, flirting skirts and boots: I envied too the legs to wear such things. But most of all I envied them the fact that they could march in step, first right, then left, then wheel. When I was young, I went away to school for six months. The Canadian college had a compulsory training corps. We drilled, carried guns and wore red and felted tunic coats. We marched; first right, then left, in front of proud and smiling parents. My friend and fellow Brit said he groaned aloud to see my squad parade: every other soldier teen lifted one foot and I the other; then wrong again, first right, then left or was it left then right? I cannot march in step. I have tried before.