This morning I found a lone hair on my temple. It was a fair way from the rest of my hair.
Was this some ambitious or adventurous individual at the apex of a grand invasion?
Was this a herald sent before an army to tell those before him that they should surrender and have tribute ready?
Was he Alexander charging at the enemy command element with his thousands of Companions following in an unstoppable wedge?
No, he was a straggler in a retreat.
He was the lone officer exhorting the rest of the troops to rally."No, don't go! We can hold them! Stand with me! Hold the line!"
His efforts were to no avail and, since his untimely demise at the hands of fashion-aware tweezering, there is no true-believer left to rally the rest.
I hold out the hope that this retreat has tricked me as it tricked Ney at Waterloo and that the troops have actually been ordered to retire behind the ridge and reform in a stunningly brilliant move that will bring ultimate victory.
But I think that this is not the case.
I think the evidence indicates, not a strategic withdrawal, but a complete defeat and the final march of a humiliated Grand Armee, harried all the way by vengeful Cossacks.
But, what's this?!
A closer inspection shows that the flanks are holding - it's not a general retreat at all!
The centre is being deliberately abandoned in a form of follicular scorched earth. Obviously my youthful impetuousness had lead me to overextend my hairline and this is merely an exercise to consolidate and redress; and tempt an eager enemy into a trap.
Or maybe my hair was simply under-prepared for the savagery of the attack of aging. I should never have believed him when we signed that accord and divided the head equally between us.
Ah, aging has always professed that a head of hair is its natural enemy, but I thought I had more time to prepare for it's onslaught.
Ok, so we're falling back now, but it WILL bring victory. Once the exhausted enemy grinds to a halt, the strengthened flanks will close in and crush him utterly. Trust me, I won't leave this spot.
Of course, all that was happening was I moving my hair-producing factories over the Urals - somewhere in the small of my back apparently. And once they get back on line, production will start up again and my forces will be unstoppable.
But hang on, there's something I missed. The centre is actually staying put. My brigades on either side are giving way and the flanks can only watch helplessly as the enemy drives past to surround and isolate the centre. The Luftwaffe say they can drop more hair and keep the centre pocket alive. But they simply can't provide enough: I need more hair in the air. They tell me there will be a breakthrough and the pocket will be rescued but I simply can't see where the reserves are going to come from. My dream of a hair style that lasts a thousand years is failing. I think this may, indeed, be the turning point and that final defeat can only be a matter time.
I can imagine now, that final brave tuft making one last stand - backs to the sea and enemy poised. They will group together bucking up each other's spirits with songs and freshly brewed tea. This will be my Dunkirk but there will be no return.
There was no line in the sand, and there was no thin red line: just a thinning line.
There will be no Pyrrhic victory. And no honourable abandoning of the fort under arms singing "Je ne Regrette Rien".
My army was a paper tiger. Yes, it did look good on paper, but it would look a heck of a lot better still in my head!
Yet it had started so promisingly all those years ago - a whole new world to conquer. Thousands upon thousands were at my command. The advance started and swiftly imposed my will, and just kept going. Now those troops I'd sent out to bring the empire to the unruly places north have disappeared and there is no evidence of their passing. I can't believe this has happened! It is simply uncanny that they've simply vanished. How could they have failed?
Varus, give me back my legions!