Except RoperWhen you’re a male and a teenager it’s difficult not to let your antipathies show. If you dislike someone you simply have to let them know it. Part of growing up in a civilized society (sounds a good idea) is learning how to conceal some of our feelings in order to be polite and considerate. Some people never master the art of self-control and retain only an attenuated sense of community.

Men in enclosed social spaces can become great friends, but they often have to have at least one enemy to bind them all together. That enemy can be part of one’s group or outside of it. If they are part of it, then all sorts of conflicting loyalties come into play. Army life can be like that.

Except Roper is about a violent dislike based on poor self-knowledge. We often hate the things that most remind us of ourselves.

I was once in the army and was sent to guard some dilapidated old compound in the dead of night. My friend and I sloped off for four hours and watched the telly. There is the root of this story.