I HAVE a new hero.
He's not a handsome Clooney clone, dishing out the charm with the derring-do.
He's 89, somewhat bereft of teeth, with a white stubble which in no way could be construed as "designer".
The object of my affections is a Royal Navy veteran living in a care home in Hove, East Sussex, who when told he was not allowed to join the D-Day anniversary events in France, thought "bugger that for a game of soldiers" and set off anyway. Bernard Jordan hid his medals under his coat, told staff he was going for a walk and got on a coach that was Normandy-bound.
He checked into a hotel in Oustrelham, near Arromanches, and by the time anyone realised he was missing he was chatting to old soldiers on the beaches, no doubt moaning about the "younger generation" of 70 year olds.
Bernard is obviously compos mentis, physically capable and knows his own mind.
What struck me most about this story was not Bernard's ingenuity and sheer bloody-mindedness but what on earth gives anyone the right to ban a British person with freedoms that people of his generation fought and died for to "ban" them from going on a journey, whether it is down the shops or to Timbuctoo.
At what age do people start treating you as a child again? If anyone said to me, "No, dear, you can't have another Cadbury's Creme Egg," that egg would soon be lodged where the sun don't shine still covered in its silver foil.
I appreciate he's in a care home and you can't have residents stripping down a motorbike in the bath or playing Vera Lynn records at full blast on the Dansette into the early hours of the morning, but to be refused to join old comrades on the Normandy beaches for a landmark anniversary? What kind of regime is that?
It's the kind that Bernard risked his life to prevent.