The only thing that stops me being smug about having a godfather who was in the SAS is that I actually have two of them. Or had. Now down to one, Uncle P having died a couple of weeks ago.
I was at the thanksgiving service, though I hadn’t seen him since (I think) I was a teenager. I was told by his second wife, who I’d never met at all, that he often said he could have been a better godfather. When I became a godfather myself I vowed I would stay in touch with the boys for as long as was possible and they wanted: to be fair, they’re still boys (okay, young men) and staying in touch is quite easy as they tend to be, more or less, in the same place as their parents. And we have Facebook. Not when I was a lad, we didn’t, and anyway, I honestly can’t see my father or Uncle P embracing that particular technology. So it’s quite possible he stayed in touch for just as long as a not particularly religious godfather could reasonably be expected to. He certainly came to my Confirmation.
Two things I learned about him that made me wish I had known him better. One is that he was at the famous Farnborough airshow where a plane crashed, killing 27 spectators, almost including him. Fortunately his military training had taught him to duck.
The other was when P and a friend were having a late night drink in P’s flat and it became obvious from noises off that in the flat below a man was beating up a woman. P went downstairs, kicked the door in, and informed the man that he thoroughly disapproved and the lady was to be allowed to go home now. Which she did. The next day the man crept upstairs and tentatively asked if he could borrow a screwdriver.
In a film of his life, of course, kicking down the door would have just been the overture to some lavishly depicted surgical violence, and everyone would be cheering. Real life is so much better. Kicking in the door released P’s aggression, and indicated the violence he could have unleashed if the man didn’t stop. Against that kind of backdrop the implication of violence is so much more effective, and gentlemanly, and self-controlled; anyway, P had to continue with this guy as a neighbour.
Definitely my kind of godfather.