walking past the house. Have I mentioned him before?
This morning he was walking his dog, a "retired police dog" - or so he would have us believe. "Walter" would have us believe many things. His attire this morning was, for him, relatively normal. It was a tracksuit decorated with a number of badges from somewhere...police, fire, ambulance, emergency services? It will be one of those or the "casual" pilot's outfit. He is all those things.
Sometimes he wears a smart black suit and carries his lawyer's wig and gown in a bag - carefully open so you can see them.
He now lives with his son and daughter-in-law. They moved in when his mother died. I suspect he really does need someone there with him. He lives in many fantasy worlds.
It was odd I should have seen "Walter" when I did. Over breakfast this morning I was reading an article in the supplement of our weekend newspaper. The article concerned men who falsely claim to have a war service record or make false claims about that record. It, rightly, raises concerns about those people who dress in uniform with a row or rows of war service medals across their chest.
We once lived in the midst of a "soldier settlement" and I think I can understand at least some of the distress it would cause a genuine returned serviceman. The horrors of war are always with them, that car backfiring is always the sound of a gun and the cut on a finger is always a gaping wound. It's the way things are. People who claim to have experienced those things but have not are either delusional or disrespectful.
"Walter" can talk to you. It even seems to make sense. He will tell you all sorts of things.
If I have time I will stop and listen. I never tell him what he is telling me is not true. He would be dreadfully hurt by that. He believes what he is saying when he tells you a story. It's just the way he is.
The one thing "Walter" never is though is a soldier. He is delusional about his war service in that he claims he once flew his helicopter under (rather than over) Sydney Harbour Bridge but he never dresses as a soldier. He never wears his war service medals. He never marches on ANZAC Day.
All that would be real and "Walter" cannot handle the real world. He is a returned serviceman. It's why we let him be "Walter".