Low life

Curry and Modafinil with Winston Churchill

I could have listened to Max Arthur on the great warrior all afternoon but the time had come to get pissed

24 October 2015

9:00 AM

24 October 2015

9:00 AM

The bar at the Special Forces club has the marvellous rule for newcomers that they should talk to the person on their right. So I was standing at the end of the bar in the Special Forces club, ordering a round of drinks to take back to a table. The round was a large gin and tonic, a pint of lager and a glass of house red. To all appearances, while the barman was arranging these drinks, I might have been standing on my own, and the chap on my left duly introduced himself. He was about 60 years old and unmistakably a military man. Even the bags under his eyes looked military. The face had seen all there was to see, but it retained a kind of straight-faced conviviality. Blue blazer, blue and white striped shirt, military tie. He told me that he had been roped in at the last minute to host the lunch and talk. Via a fleeting comic mime he also confided his mental disarray at such short notice, which was unconvincing given the overriding impression of languorous unflappability.

Learning that I was a first-time visitor to the Special Forces club, he kindly gave me a succinct version of how we were going to spend the next few hours. ‘What we are going to do is this. We’ll have another couple of drinks, then we’ll toddle downstairs to the drawing room to hear the chap speak — it shouldn’t take long — then we’ll all come back up here and get pissed.’ Feeling very much at home on hearing this, I said, ‘And did you speak to me because I am standing on your right?’ ‘No, no,’ he said. ‘I’m just putting everyone in the picture.’ Then I returned to our table and distributed the drinks.

I had been invited to the talk and lunch by an ex-para and Special Forces chap now working as a security adviser to mining companies in Africa. Half an hour listening to him talk about his past and present life is an education in geopolitics, and what one learns bears little or no resemblance to what one has read in the newspapers. His was the house red. His other guest — the pint of lager — was a taciturn, pleasant man whom he introduced as his father-in-law. Just as he was coming to the end of another one of his amazing tales — this one was about the Irish Rangers in Sierra Leone — there was a general exodus towards the door and staircase, which we joined, taking our drinks with us.

The talk was on Winston Churchill; the speaker the author Max Arthur, who has a new pictorial biography of the great warrior just out. He stood at a lectern and about 20 of us sat or stood in the comfortable drawing room facing him. I guessed that everyone there, like me, had consumed all the major biographies, and been lately refreshed and enlivened by Boris’s rattling good read, and that there was little that Mr Arthur would say to us that we didn’t already know. So I was prepared to settle back, put on an interested face, and listen as though I were listening to a favourite CD. But Mr Arthur astutely narrowed his topic to Churchill’s childhood, selecting the most powerful influences on the lad’s formative thinking and imagination, and he buoyed us up and carried us along with the quiet, fervid assurance of a revivalist preacher. These boyhood influences included of course his parents’ indifference and his nanny’s devotion; his father’s political speeches, which young Winston memorised by heart; the Zulu war; the tragic sinking of the training ship Eurydice, which he witnessed from the shore; and his toy soldiers. ‘The toy soldiers changed the current of my life,’ he wrote later.

I had taken a Modafinil ‘smart’ pill that morning and could have listened to Mr Arthur all afternoon. But all too soon he was looking for questions, of which there was only one; a woman wondered about the extent of Churchill’s mental illness. Then we all trooped upstairs again, past the ranks of framed photographs of notable former SOE and Special Forces operatives — among those I immediately recognised were Sir Archibald David Stirling DSO, OBE; Peter Fleming OBE; and Captain Robert Nairac GC — to get pissed. There was also a curry available, ladled from a counter at the end of the bar. In the curry queue, I asked the youngish chap standing on my right, who said he worked for military intelligence, about the various bravery citations and how they ranked and what the letters stood for. The DSO, he said, stood for Dick Shot Off, and the GC, he said, now helping himself to papadums, meant that the recipient enjoyed a Good Curry.

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  • FedUpIndian

    Was there a point to this article? Award Clarke a DSO (Do Sod Off).

    • oldoddjobs

      Well, I enjoyed it. What’s the point of anything, old chap?

      The reference to taking pharmaceutical speed was amusing. Remember when the Spectator hated all drugs except alcohol & tobacco?

      • JabbaTheCat

        Modafinil(C15-H15-N-O2-S) is unrelated to amphetamine(C9-H13-N) structurally and has a different much longer lasting effect…

  • The Sentinel

    The insertion of [a highly unnecessary/not-obviously-pertinent] reference to Modafinil as a ‘smart’ pill is crass and just helps perpetuate such nonsense, rather than it being considered a serious medication with some serious potential side effects!

  • Roger Hudson

    The curry will always be too mild, never hot since we lost ‘Rocky’ Blake (RIP).
    I’ve always wondered about the so-called ‘Harrod’s bomb’, really targeted at the club.

  • Mike Davies

    Heavy drinking and modafinil puts quite a load on your liver – its unrecommended. Personally I wouldnt exceed one pint if I had 200mg

  • Md. Iqbal Khan


    • Skridlov

      Ah, a mohammedan necrophiliac! Don’t encounter one of them in every blog – not that they’re a rarity today.

      • Well – as we know from a lot of recent court cases, they aren’t that particular about where they put some parts of their anatomy.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Never a Moderator when you need one.

      • EUSSR 4 All!

        But given you yourself are an IRA shill …

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Up the RA.

          • EUSSR 4 All!

            Alright, alright, no need to tell us you as a gay bloke like to “sleep” with glorified Irish drug dealers, you dirty old!

    • Ha ha ha ha ha – I really laughed at that lunatic outburst. You should read Winston’s account of the Frontier Wars in the wilds of Pakistan old chap…. He has you fellows off perfectly.

      “Their superstition exposes them to the rapacity and tyranny of a numerous
      priesthood—”Mullahs,” “Sahibzadas,” “Akhundzadas,” “Fakirs,”—and
      a host of wandering Talib-ul-ilms, who correspond with the theological
      students in Turkey, and live free at the expense of the people. More than
      this, they enjoy a sort of “droit du seigneur,” and no man’s wife or
      daughter is safe from them. Of some of their manners and morals it is
      impossible to write. As Macaulay has said of Wycherley’s plays, “they are
      protected against the critics as a skunk is protected against the
      hunters.” They are “safe, because they are too filthy to handle, and too
      noisome even to approach.”

      SOURCE The Story of The Malakand Field Force – Winston Churchill 1898:


      Great read. Download it and enjoy.

    • RWJetzt

      Without Winston Churchill, you lot wouldn’t be here, you should be worshipping him after Allah and Muhammad. If Hitler had won, international finance✡ wouldn’t have been able to bring you over as their pet hordes to replace Whitey, in line with the Coudenhove-Kalergi✡ plan.

  • smspf

    Ok, I’ll bite.
    Modafinil is for stupid people.
    Milk thistle before and teaspoon of C6H8O6 the day after.
    Bang! and the head is back on.

  • Matthew Fonsak

    Modafinil dosen’t make you smarter, it simply keeps you awake and focused. It has saved my life countless times when rushing assignments, so i definitely see the value in it. The problem is that its prescription only thanks to our genius lawmakers, so the alternative is to buy from an online pharmacy like:


    I hope one day our lawmakers can wake up, and correctly classify medications. The medical evidence points towards no long-term detrimental effects for modafinil, and very low abuse potential.