A chain gang unravels, stooping under foreign blades and the shackled safety of surrender. Blind eyes stumble through the heat, while sunburnt soldiers prod and shove, and shout at ears already full of conflict.

This desert is empty with smoke. Marlboro, Bensons or No. 1s – take your pick. All dependent, of course, on the source – the Battery clerk with less clerking here to be done, in mud-dust heaven, than sitting, scratching, attaching paperclips to slips of paper, later to be dancing drunk among the gathered dregs of a Rhineland sweat-pot.

Strike a pose, Tommy, strike a pose atop your truck, with its defaced desert rat and Rangers in the windscreen dust. Show Glasgow how it’s done. Their son will do them proud and prove his worth in this – this tactless task, this faceless farce we played in.

A promise, a pact, a friend for life (for now), it seems, at least. With the fresh-faced thrill of a first-blood war, he took his shots from over my shoulder.