Saturday, 29 June 2013

I was asked who the characters in Armageddon's Song are based upon, and to be honest there are a few who are amalgams of people I have met throughout my life.

'The President' is an easy one, as I tend to picture a situation and hear dialogue form before I write it I found that the 'ideal' of a President I was trying to describe was not a real person but rather one created by Aaron Sorkin, at least so far as speech and mannerisms in my minds eye anyway. President Josiah Bartlet as portrayed by that great American actor Martin Sheen pretty closely fits the bill. Mine of course is a little more complex as you will discover. A good man by nature who may have trouble sleeping some nights owing to the dirty political waters he is forced to do business in.

Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Stone, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards is a mix of three terrifying individuals (if you happened to be a young soldier in the British Army in the early 1970's) RSM Torrance, Scots Guards, who reigned over the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion at Park Hall, Oswestry in Shropshire.  Garrison Sergeant Major 'Black Alec' Dumon  The Guards Depot, Pirbright, Surrey and later Garrison Sergeant Major London District, and finally Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Smith, 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards. Sarn't Major Torrance was outwardly fierce but inwardly fair and an ideal individual to be dealing with a couple of thousand 15 year old schoolboys who had to be turned into the next NCO corps of the British infantry.
'Black Alec' is of course a legend. Those dark sunken eyes and unblinking, cold stare. 'Captain Black & The Mysterons' except for that voice, the gruff Yorkshire accent that barked a command out on one side of a parade square and the flowers in their beds outside Battalion Headquarters a quarter mile away would wilt and die.
RSM Smith was a pretty good actor I think. The act was to make everyone, including young subalterns, believe he was permanently angry and a heartbeat removed from downright furious.
I was on barrack guard one night when one of the old soldiers, an 'old sweat' with a few campaigns under his belt, and as it turned out at least one demon, went berserk. He had a rifle and bayonet attached  to it in a barrack room he was trashing. The Picquet Officer wanted to arm the Picquet Sergeant, with obvious consequences should the soldier in question make a fight of it, which he would have. The RSM intervened, whatever old trauma was troubling the soldier, he knew about it. He sent everyone away except for a couple of us and he waited out the storm, entering on his own an hour later and spoke in a normal voice for long minutes before exiting and handing me the rifle before leading the soldier to the medical centre, speaking quietly to him all the time.
Next day RSM Smith was of course again a heartbeat removed from downright furious.


General Henry Shaw USMC, another easy one, but also oddly out of time.  It was back in 2004 when I added General Henry Shaw and in my mind Henry is Tom Selleck as 'Frank Reagan' except that 'Blue Bloods' wasn't screened until 2010. Possibly Mr Selleck played another role around that time which was solid, professional and reliable to the end in character. If I say so myself I do like General Henry Shaw, I could serve under a leader like that.

Sir James Tennant, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is to me 'Foyles War' Michael Kitchen a very good British actor of the finest type.