Many years ago two young boys were called upon to serve their country . They met at a place called Shotley Gate, on a stone ship named HMS Ganges . After many months of training these now young men were drafted to their firt ship , on active service . In the following weeks the young men sailed south to warmer seas , and a bond was formed . One warm and calm night under a full moon disaster struck . The ship was lost , both young men began to swim towards a distant island , unaware of what was to come . One was unscathed , the other badly wounded they fought on , helping one another as daylight approached . Once ashore and with no other shipmates to be seen , the uninjured sailor picked up and carried his friend to safety , many miles over an unforgiving desert landscape , no food or water , just a will to survive and fight another day . Many days passed until they arrived at an oasis , the fitter of the two left the other under the shade of a palm tree with a supply of water and dates . With a guilty conscience and life slowly dwindling away he set off to find help for his friend . With God on his side and a heart of oak the young man reached his destination , he told his rescuers where he had left his friend and was then transported off of the island and sent back home . Many years passed , forty or more ,never again did he see or hear of his friend . Then one warm and calm day he attended a reunion , HMS Ganges had long been closed , her buildings and mast were showing their age and neglect , the whitewashed stones , the holy parade ground unkempt and sad , Nelson hall now cold empty and full of ghosts from his past . With a sadden heart he spoke to new found friends , swapped stories of days passed and asked about his old friend . Over in the corner and sat by himself he spotted a face , a face from days passed . With tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat he spoke to the man . For forty or more years I have searched every street, in the hope that one day we would once again meet . Through gritted teeth and a face that now frowned his friend replied with a voice that shook the ground , ” why did you leave me to die on that day , I spotted the footprints when they carried me away . One set of footprints all of the way , if it was not for my rescuers I would not be here today ” . With a voice full of sadness the old man replied , yes one set of footprints and they were mine . I carried you to safety and went to find help . They said they would find you and bring you back home , and that’s where I waited with a heart full of hope . But this is what happens when stories are told , parts that are missing and some parts untold . Friendship’s destroyed and forgotten as we get old . If only we remembered the wise words we were told , don’t listen to gossip and don’t be led astray for the rest of our lives we should remember the Ganges way . Wisdom is strength .
A merry Christmas and a happy and sensible new year to all Ganges boys and their families , and absent friends .
Merry Christmas and keep reading