Fighting Season

A review of Fighting Season by Graham Lee

 

At school, one of my classmates was a chap named Graham Lee. We used to travel home together on the same bus from Lancaster and as both our mothers worked at the same university and shared a love of all things equestrian, we had much in common.

 

“Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan” by Graham Lee

Naturally, as happens when one goes to university, we lost touch and it was the phenomenon that is Facebook that caused us to regain contact with one another recently. Whilst I may have enjoyed a somewhat colourful time working for a billionaire, launching drinks brands and writing, Lee has been involved in something far more important in the time since we left Lancaster Royal Grammar School in 1999.

 

Lee, after Cambridge and Sandhurst, served in Kenya and Germany and then as an officer in the British Army’s spearhead Air Assault Brigade was sent to Afghanistan. In Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan, he recounts his experiences in a way that reveals that fighting a war there is very much different to how we see it in newspapers and on our televisions.

 

Mixing the every day travails of being a soldier, though doing so unlike others who’ve written of the Afghan campaign without focusing too much on a lack of equipment and bashing the government, Lee paints a picture of a country where loyalty changes constantly. Alongside accounts of dealings with the “Bond villain” General Muhayadin, who goes mad when a consignment of tomato paste isn’t delivered on time, but whom “knew exactly what he was doing” when exploiting the British into building checkpoints; Lee graphically explains how power, dominance and sex are thought of by many soldiers:

 

“ ‘Smash her in,’ was the phrase we’d been taught. It replaced ‘make love to her.’ It was a good phrase because it removed the necessity of being desired… Every man in the army knew how to dominate and be dominated. Power and violence were our bread and butter… Power. Domination. Violence. Sex.”

 

The book is not without humour. A passage about an “ancient general,” for example, tells of how, for him, the phrase “well done” had become a “reflex action” as he’d used it so much:

 

“Outside a country church he’d be introduced to a frail old lady with the line ‘this is Margaret. Her sister was killed in the blitz you know.’”

 

The Taliban themselves are presented as the unseen enemy in the main but again wit is used to depict them in a passage about ICOM intercepts:

 

“Taliban 1: Go and bring me the two headed thing that uses a lot of ammunition, not a pickaxe!

 

(He was talking about a rocket propelled grenade)

 

Taliban 2: OK.

Taliban 1: One time, when I asked this someone brought me an actual pickaxe!”

 

On a more serious note, the book deals with the death of Lee’s colleagues and delves into the psyche of being a soldier in passages such as:

 

“I could remember seeing British soldiers in Northern Ireland when I was a boy on holiday, driving past them and watching them look down on our car from behind their guns. They’d seemed like a horrible bunch of bastards. Now it was me behind the machine gun, encased by armour and uniform, with the little boy in rags standing in front of me, the muzzle of my gun covering half of his tiny body. How strange is life, I thought.”

 

Fighting Season is a book that points out the illogical nature of the Afghans and the seriously high level of bribery in their country. It details the horrors of war but also reveals how soldiers use humour to keep themselves sane.

 

In his final paragraph, Lee talks about being in his officers’ mess bar discussing how girlfriends often compare Afghanistan to a “big game of Lazerquest” and do not understand the differences betweem artillery and guns. He concludes with the line:

 

“And with that we bought ourselves another beer, and started talking about something else.”

 

When we meet again, Graham, the beer is on me.

 

Fighting Season by Graham Lee. Published by Duckworth Overlook, 2012. ISBN: 9780715644979. £16.99.

 

To purchase a copy, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fighting-Season-Graham-Lee/dp/0715642979

  1. […] Kajaki is a film so tense that it does not need music. It focuses on courage and selflessness and it shows the real enemy of the troops turns out be ignorance and incompetence. That the right batteries haven’t been supplied for their radios and that the RAF send in a Chinook helicopter that starts the minefield vibrating echoes the kind of story told by such people as Graham Lee in his 2012 account of his time in Afghanistan, Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan. […]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Bigging-Up a Bargain Mini Mansion

‘Stately’ Cape Cod style ‘mini mansion’ in North Carolina with 1.14 acres of land for sale for just £44,000; it is situated in a town that was the birthplace of the biggest ever American, a very fat and very tall man named Mills Darden.

A Security Lobotomy at The Botanist

‘The Steeple Times’ reports on anything but a ‘Super Saturday’ at The Botanist on Sloane Square; we share here imagery and a video of a thieving woman whom must be caught.

What’s Dershowitz Got To Hide?

Matthew Steeples questions why Alan Dershowitz is getting so enthusiastic in his defence of the vile paedo procurer Ghislaine Maxwell.

Runners & Riders – The Coral-Eclipse 2020

‘The Steeple Times’ takes a look at the seven horse Group 1 Coral-Eclipse 2020 at Sandown and opts for a tasty outsider for an each way bet.

Will Ghislaine Maxwell Motor On?

As a poll reveals the public believe Ghislaine Maxwell will ‘suicide herself’ in a similar manner to her former master Jeffrey Epstein, the Cash & Rocket ‘charity’ unbelievably announce they are going ahead with another rally in 2021.

Runners & Riders – The Oaks and The Derby 2020

‘The Steeple Times’ analyses the selections for a somewhat damp double at Epsom on ‘Super Saturday’; we suggest enjoying The Oaks and The Derby 2020 at home.

Hooping A Half Price Mansion

Vast Edwardian mansion with basketball court in the roof in Watseka, Illinois for sale at half price it listed for in 2016; it’s on for just £20 per square foot.

Wally of the Week – Disgraceful Dimwit Darren Grimes

As manipulated millennial Darren Grimes gets himself into yet another racism storm with the help of his beloved bigot Dr David Starkey, one has to ask: “Who is this cretin’s puppet master?”

Bow Wine Vaults Back

Acclaimed restaurateur Philip Lawless to reopen Square Mile institution and haunt of city financiers the Bow Wine Vaults on Monday.

Remembering Jeffrey Epstein Albuquerque Style

Statue of late billionaire sex beast Jeffrey Epstein mysteriously appears outside City Hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and is promptly removed by officials).

E-Scooter-ing a Shameless Minister For Rent

E-Scooter-ing Out a Minister For Rent – As the government disgracefully announces they’ll be allowing rentable e-scooters on Britain’s roads, Matthew Steeples asks: “Who gave ‘a Robert Jenrick’?” to get this multi-million market going.

The Pargetter Triptych

Matthew Steeples urges fans of ‘The Archers’ to forget the BBC’s revised coronavirus version; until normality returns, give ‘The Pargetter Triptych’ a...

A Demon Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce owned by “maverick” Demon Internet dot-com millionaire Cliff Stanford to be auctioned; his au pair was tragically murdered in Spain; he was convicted of “email spying” in a scandal featuring gerrymanderer Dame Shirley Porter.

Hero of the Hour – Lenin Gutierrez

After standing up to a woman named Amber Lynn Gilles who berated him whilst doing his job, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez is going to use the unexpected donation ‘tips’ he received to help others.

Elton John Needs an Olive Branch

As Sir Elton John is slammed for his treatment of his ex-wife, we suggest he ought to offer an olive branch as appeasement to get her off her ‘Crocodile Rock.’

Buckle Up! Barking Baker Harber Has Bitten Back

Victoria Baker Harber has sent Kenny Schachter a “cease and desist” letter in the wake of her on-off conman lover Inigo Philbrick being snared by the FBI.

Weather Now

London
clear sky
18.1 ° C
19.4 °
16.7 °
45 %
3.6kmh
1 %
Mon
17 °
Tue
21 °
Wed
22 °
Thu
20 °
Fri
20 °