The lengths we go for love..lust…luurve?

aircadetsSo, back in the day as a younger, more simple soul…I would fall in love with monotonous regularity.  I am pretty sure that teenagers the world over suffer from this.  Especially hormone riddled males of the species.

When you became besotted with a particular person, you would go pretty far in your own little pursuit of happiness.  With that in mind, and trying to forget the fact that I seem to have regressed to this exact stage recently, I bring you a tale of 15 year old Dave, overcome with desire for a particular 16 year old lady.

The first thing you should know about me, I never really had any desire to join the Armed Forces.  I lived the life, enjoyed the perks and ignored the dangers, but it was never really in my foreseeable future to join up.  I had plans, such grand plans and the Armed Forces were never going to do it for me.

So you can imagine the surprise expressed by my parents, when I came home one day and let them know that I was joining the A.T.C. (Air Training Corps).  The A.T.C is essentially the Junior Air Force without all that pesky war zone stuff.  You would do drills, learn marksmanship, team activities and a whole host of other stuff.  You also wore, what was essentially, the RAF Uniform.

I think they assumed it would be good for me and would help me become a better person or something.  Which meant that they didn’t really question me.  This was good, as I hadn’t really been able to formulate an excuse for wanting to join up.  Don’t get me wrong, it had some nice side benefits.  My Dad showing me how to polish your boots properly and press your uniform in that “Just Right” fashion that is expected of those wearing it, was great.  Quality time with Dad, check.  Becoming a Marksman with a variety of weapons was also fun.  I did actually have a good time when I got there…but my reasoning may have raised an eyebrow or two in my general direction.  I’ll take you back a few weeks before I walk through the door and announce my intentions to join up.

It is a few weeks earlier and I am at school with mates…

Friend 1: “You doing anything this half-term then?”
Me: “Don’t think so, Dad has to work, so we are deffo staying here”
Friend 2:  “Same here, anything going on?”
Friend 1:  “ATC have their weekend BBQ and Party.  Doesn’t help you two though”
Me / Friend 2:  “Party?? What Party??”
Friend 1:  “They do it every year.  Camp out for 3 days and do a massive BBQ Party.  Music and the whole thing.  You can take your own tent or share one of the massive ones”
Me:  “Amanda (Can’t remember her actual name…sorry) is in the ATC right?”
Friend 1:  “Oh dear…yes, yes she is”
Friend 2:  “Dave, where are you going?”
Me:  “Joining up, you coming?”

You needed to be a member for a while before they would allow you to the party.  They didn’t want people just joining up for the BBQ weekend and then leaving you see.  So the timing of the conversation was good as it meant I joined up just before the cut off time.  What it meant, however, was that I had a few months of ATC’ing to do before the party.  As I already said, it definitely had its benefits, and I did actually enjoy it…but I always knew I was only going to be there until after the party.

So, did it work?  Well, yes and no.  We got together on the weekend of the party and then had a blissful month together before we both “fell in love” again and went our separate ways.

I do know that I took my own tent, I also know that we had a moment of terror when they came around shining torches on the walls of the tents to make sure that the hormonal teenagers were actually asleep and, more importantly, alone.

I also know that I left the A.T.C about a week after Amanda and I broke up.

Totally worth it though.

 

Want to finish early? I’m your guy!

733tdgSo, in the past, I may have alluded to my morals taking a little while to develop.

It is fair to say that, as a young teenager, living on RAF bases around the world and being lucky enough to have access to amazing facilities, I was your fairly typical privileged git.  I don’t think I was a bad person, but I did take a lot of stuff for granted that I most definitely wouldn’t today.

Anyhoo, when you are of that age and at a good level of privilege, you tend to think of yourself as 1) Invincible and 2) The center of the known universe.  This can lead to behavioural “quirks”, shall we say.

My quirk was to be something of a “prankster” I suppose.  Although I didn’t prank for the yuks, I pranked for personal gain. Namely, getting out of school early (with yuks along the way of course).

Now, these things happened a very very long time ago, I am not this person now and, more importantly, I sincerely hope the statute of limitations has expired…so, here we go.

I’ll start off a little light.  Some of you will be content to read this, and then ignore the rest of the post.  “That’s not too bad” you might say, “We still like you”.  Ahh, hope springs eternal.

Early Leadership Skills Demonstration

I think this is still pretty standard but, before you get to choose your “options” (the lessons you intend to take exams in”, you are forced to live through years and years of lessons that have been forced upon you.  Maths and English were clear along with Sports and Science.  Unfortunately for me, Religious Studies was also thrust upon me like a Catholic Priest with a packet of Smarties.

Now, to suggest I am not religious is an understatement akin to “Donald Trump is not always respectful to women”, so imagine my joy at having an hour of my life taken from me, multiple times per week.

I should point out that, from my perspective, this all started when I told the teacher that I disagreed with being in the class on “religious grounds”, seeing as I had none.  Her reaction did not leave me with the feeling that I was being taken seriously.

I decided to take action.  To begin with, a subversive action.  I started to get the rest of my scholarly colleagues riled up about being forced to go to this class and, after a few more lessons, I made my move.

I staged a walk-out in the middle of the lesson.  Everybody followed.  It was perfect and I managed to reign in the desire to just walk off the school premises and into the victorious sunset.  Instead, I got everyone to sit on the steps just outside the classroom window.

The teachers response, after she collected herself, was fairly predictable.  “Detention” she cried.  I must confess that at this point, my colleagues were nervous.  Detention was during breaks for us, and none of us wanted to miss out on those.  So, grasping the momentum, I decided that we wouldn’t do detention either.  Nor the next detention that was set for us and we would all enjoy ourselves in the quad when the lesson was supposed to take place.  In the end, I was “invited” to the headmasters office for, what felt like, negotiations.  These talks ended in an accord.  I would ensure that the class would be full of attentive students, the religious studies teacher would allow the lesson to be a discussion of religion in general and the headmaster would not suspend me and/or involve my parents.

I probably should have gone into politics.

An “Alarming” Turn of Events

So, occasionally, we didn’t want to be in class.  This happened a little more frequently when I first got to a new school once.  I was never stupid, but I was lazy and, to that end, this meant ensuring that I was in a high enough class level to get decent grades, but not so high that I was expected to do anything spectacular.  Back then, when you arrived at a new school, you would take a series of tests that would determine your class level for various subjects and I was always very careful to put myself on the top end of the middle.

This meant that I could sail through most tasks, looking good, with very little effort.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at this particular school for my tests, I wasn’t paying attention and did the first test properly.  I rallied on the rest but the damage was done…top class for English.  I then spent the next 6 months trying to get kicked down a level or two to resume my laziness.  I was ultimately successful, but not before I had discovered the remedy to hard work.

It was a pretty old school with, importantly, very old fire alarms.  None of this break glass and push a hi-tec button malarkey.  No no no, ours were the old school and Frankenstein’esque lever jobbies.  Whilst fecking around with one in the hallway, I noticed that there was a balancing point where it would either try and continue it’s journey into the on position, or go back to the safety of the off position.  Thing is, it took anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to decide.

Thus began English lesson escape gambling.  Hands would be held in the air, toilet breaks would be requested, the fire alarm lever would be primed and seats retaken whilst work resumed.  If, after 5 minutes, nothing had happened, someone else would request a toilet break and it would begin again.

I am not sure if they ever figured out why the alarm would go off every couple of days in the same hallway, at roughly the same time (you know, give or take 30 minutes).

Now, the next two stories are going to make me sound like a dick…one of them especially…but you really have to understand what we forces kids considered to be normal, daily, life.

I lived on or around airbases from as early as I can remember until I was about 16.  Now, as good as the life was, and you will rarely hear me talk badly of it, it did have it’s associated dangers.  Growing up, the troubles in Northern Ireland were an ever present mention on the news.  Part of that situation that spilt over was the targeting of military personnel, not just in Northern Ireland.  For us, that meant that the gate guards had to carry very dangerous weaponry with live and substantially more dangerous ammunition.

Alert levels dictated our lives to a certain extent.  My favourite (wrong word) story to tell of the time is when we were living off-base in a housing estate dedicated to service personnel, but about 15 minutes from the actual base.  Pretty much in the middle of normal residential areas and, of course, not protected in any way shape or form.  Due to this we had, just inside our doorway, a long stick with a car wing mirror attached to it.  Every time we wanted to get into the car, Dad got the stick and checked for bombs….under our car…outside our house.  You get the point.

The thing is, it would be easy to play that down.  You could be forgiven for thinking that this was protocol and that we were under no real danger.  Thing is, the British Military in Germany were being quite heavily targeted at the time.  Far too many good people had their lives abruptly cut short by bombings and, whilst we didn’t have any where we were, approximately 2 hours down the road definitely did.  These were very real issues.

Thing is, it was also perfectly normal.  So normal that I would ask my Dad if I could do the mirror check today and then get all stroppy when he wouldn’t let me.  We would often be on the school bus, get stopped at the gate, and have armed soldiers with live weaponry walk onto and around the bus, with sniffer dogs, checking for bombs and people that shouldn’t have been there.  We would be messing with these guys and moving the barrel out of the way of our faces so that we could keep playing 52 card pickup or raps on some unsuspecting soul.  I am not saying we didn’t take these things seriously but you adjust really quickly.  Some things that would terrify most people became a part of every day life so, you just get on with it.

Anyway, that disclaimer out of the way, I will give you first a story of my stupidity where I paid for it and then a story of my stupidity, where I probably should have paid for it.

You didn’t think that through did you?

This one isn’t really about getting out of anything early, but it could also be called “You should know better”.  We were back in the UK and I was hanging around with good bunch of guys on a base that was almost entirely dedicated to Officer training.  This meant we had a few extra facilities that other, nearby, bases did not.  The biggest one was a pool.  This meant that people of our age group from other bases would be regularly transported to our base to use the pool for a few hours.

As is fairly normal from 2 bases, rivalry was often quite intense and it was so in this case.  This meant that they had issue with us and we with them.  Their technique was to try and hit us with something (often a fight) just as their bus was due to arrive, leaving them to leg it to their bus and us to get in the shite.  After a reasonable amount of getting us in trouble, enough was enough, so a plan was hatched.  We would allow them to kick off and run, but would not engage. Instead, we would all head to cars and chase them back to their base.  We had assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that they would all live in accessible parts of their base like we did.

So they kick off, we let it happen, we all run to the cars and follow their bus, waiting for them to start dropping people off outside of the base.  Unfortunately, their bus pulled up to the gates as we pulled in across the road from the gates.  The guards got on the bus and we could see a lot of gesticulation in our general area, so we legged it back home.  I pointed my fingers in a gun like pose and pulled the non-existent trigger in the general direction of the bus.

As we all get back to our base, and are standing around the cars having a laugh and a joke, we are surrounded by both military and civilian police cars.  I am grabbed and slung in the back of a police car and so are a number of my friends.

Turns out, and unbeknownst to me, the moment I chose to pull my little finger gun maneuver, was the precise moment that one of the (heavily armed) soldiers was walking over to have a word with us.  Accordingly, I was actually lucky to only be arrested as opposed to being shot.

My Dad was given no small amount of embarrassment and I was in considerable trouble for threatening a member of the military.

So, karma won that one….

You reeeaaaallly wanted to get out of class didn’t you?

Going to military schools means that you have a lot of friends that don’t always live around the corner.  So, sleepovers tend to involve packing bags, getting on a different buses and travelling quite a distance.  So, an excited Dave was happy to be spending the weekend at a friends some hours away from home and had taken his bag to school with him.

Obviously I had packed (or mum had packed for me) some clothes for the weekend, my toothbrush, a towel and, as you do when you know you are going to have to get up on Monday morning a lot earlier than normal…your alarm clock.  So imagine my joy when, during our break, the alarms start going off in the school and we are all told to gather at the evacuation point.  You see, it had happened before and it meant that we were going to be asked to go home early.  Previously, they keep us in the evacuation point until they can get the buses to turn up and then we are all shuffled off.

Unfortunately, this time, that was not to be.  We were all kept for a very fidgety hour while something was brought out and exploded in a controlled manner.  Just before they covered it, and blew it up, a mate of mine pointed out that it looked remarkably like my bag.

Turns out, a teacher had seen my bag under a desk, heard the alarm clock ticking, panicked and called the Bomb Squad.

Fast forward a couple of years and the winter days are dragging.  On a Thursday, a few of us are talking about how great it would be to get home early.  I hatched a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.

When I got home, I packed a bag, complete with alarm clock..

I figured a repeat of my accidental bomb evacuation was called for.  So, I took the bag and left it under a desk before morning break and waited.  Nothing happened.  Noone noticed anything untoward and we were all, quite blatantly still in lessons.

It get’s to the lunch break with nothing having happened and so I decide to act.  I found a teacher near where the bag was placed and simply asked if they knew whose bag it was.  The teacher, very calmly, shooed me out of the building and initiated the alarm.  15 minutes later and we are all at the evacuation point.  I was feeling more than a little smug at this point.

A few of the lads were happy with me.  Sure it was fecking freezing, but it was only a matter of time before we were sent home.

An hour later, the smiles had pretty much gone, we were all freezing our tits off and a van arrived.  The Bomb Squad proceeded to take something out of the van.  It appeared to be a half-assembled Robot Wars reject.  They then spent the next 40 minutes finishing the assembly.  The smiles had now completely gone and some of them had turned into sneers.  I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable as well as freezing fucking cold.

Once assembled and tested (another 15 minutes) and the guy with a giant remote control steps up and throws the thing into high gear and things are starting to look up again.  Sure, when the alert was triggered we were looking to be out of there 4 hours early and when the robot started moving, we were still looking at 2 hours early, so not bad.

Unfortunately, there then began the worlds longest waiting game.  One of the things about remote controlled bomb disposal robots, one of the MOST IMPORTANT things, is that they are designed to be able to pickup packages in a safe and steady manner.  This means that they do not shake about, lurch about or…….MOVE QUICKLY.  30 minutes after it started moving, it reached the door to the building.  30 minutes more and it collected the package.  Almost an hour after that it had managed to bring the package out and deliver it to a zone full of people in heavy full body armour and carrying controlled explosion stuff.

We were now looking at leaving on-time.  Which, considering we had been out of class the whole afternoon, I was still choosing to view as a win.   My friends (although it may have been a stretch to call them that at this point) were not so enamoured with spending 4 hours outside if the freezing German winter.

Sadly it was not to be.  The controlled explosion took another hour to setup and a further 45 minutes to check the whole thing and clear up before we were allowed to move towards our buses.  So, my efforts to leave 4 hours early on a Friday afternoon, led to us leaving 2 hours late on a Friday evening…

Not my finest hour.

Home on the range


Love and Lust
So, as I appear to be in a reminiscing frame of mind at the moment, I thought I would share a story about a pursuit of lust love.  This pursuit would lead to my joining a uniformed organisation and would ultimately lead to a shooting incident where a number of people could have lost their lives.

Exciting, right?  Absolutely…prepare…..for….well, disappointment I am almost certain.

Hmm, I have sat here for at least 5 minutes, trying desperately to remember the year that this took place.  Not that it is important to the story, but I know how you all like to have complete facts and not just spurious memories.  Let’s see, I was in Gütersloh, which I left in 1990…so this would have been a year (ish) before that.  Ok, ok…I’ll say 1988 for the sake of argument.

So, back in 1988 I was living in Gütersloh, Germany as my dad was in the Royal Air Force (I may have mentioned this before).  It was fast approaching the summer, my Uncle Fester/Panda Hybrid looks were not even a remote possibility.  I played regular football, table tennis, squash and a myriad of other sports..and I was fortunate enough to be in the relatively “in” groups.  Life was good and I felt good about that.

A particular lady, however, had achieved the dubious honour of having me lusting after her and, indeed, being somewhat obsessed with her.  She was in a group of friends that regularly overlapped with my group, so we were chatting quite frequently.  Despite my (moderate) successes with the ladies…and the group that I was with…I was still abnormally shy about making any “moves”..so I hadn’t attempted to get with the object of my desires yet.  During one of our chats, it was revealed to me that she was a member of the Air Training Corps (a sort of youth Royal Air Force if you will) and that they were having a huge summer event in a couple of months.  After discovering that the event was a full weekend camping, with BBQs, party and other activities…I decided that I needed to get to this event.

Unfortunately, this was specifically an ATC event…no friends or external invites.  What was a boy to do?

After signing up to join the ATC and getting my uniform sorted out, I embarked upon, what I describe to be, a low point in my life.  Low because of what I was going through in an attempt to be with the object of my infatuation.  I attended every week, went to the special events…learned how to march, how to strip and clean a gun and also how to fire a gun.  Eventually, I got the all clear…I attended the weekend event and had a very….very good time….you don’t really need to hear more than that.

That is not the story though….oh no.  This story is based around what happened during my (self) enforced time in the ATC.  As I said, I attended everything that they wanted me to religiously, mainly to make sure that they couldn’t exclude me from the summer event.  Everything.  Including many visits to the shooting range, where we learned about firing various guns…how to keep them safe, strip them down and clean them etc…and of course, how to fire them.

I excelled at firing them and rapidly gained a marksman certificate for every weapon that we were allowed to handle.  I was one of, if not the, best shot out of everyone there.  We would visit the range almost every week and so I got plenty of practise.  This particular visit to the range was no different.

I should probably, at this point, explain how the range was setup.  It was a very long range, lots of dirt on the floor leading from where we shot to the targets at the other end.  The targets were set at about 1.8m from the ground and were supported by (and placed in front of) lots of sandbags.  For extra support (I think), the sandbags were themselves placed on the top of some rocks.  It was a pretty good setup.

We were firing SA-80s from the “prone” position, which is basically laying down, and were instructed to stop firing.  The rule was that you had to make the weapon safe before standing, then check the chambers and place the weapon (barrel facing down-range) onto the table next to your firing position.  We had done this many many many times and were all pretty skilled at it.

For some reason, one of the girls…I shall call her Brandine, completely forgot what she was supposed to do…stood up and went to place the gun on the table.  At the moment that she was doing this, the Sergeant who had been watching all of us intently, decided to act.  I am fairly certain, that, had he approached her in a calm manner and explained the issue, it would have been rectified without further incident..unfortunately, he decided to be a cliche and proceeded, at the top of his lungs, to scream “MAKE THAT WEAPON SAFE CADET BRANDINE”.

As you and I might reasonably expect, this did not have the desired effect on Brandine…what it did do was to scare the shit out of her.  Brandine, who at this point was in mid-reach to the table whilst attempting to put the gun down..jumped out of her skin and immediately dropped the weapon on the floor.

Dropped.  The.  Weapon.

As I am sure you can imagine (it wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise), the one in a million chance of a weapon discharge happened.

The bullet, travelling at god knows what speed, left the barrel which was (thankfully) pointing down range..and was, I swear, kicking up a dust trail as it went hurtling towards the targets…at about 2 inches off the ground.

This of course meant that it hit the rocks underneath the target and I got to experience my first ever real ricochet.  The Sergeant decided to scream again…but this time with a little more justification and we all hit the deck.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to anyone (except Brandine, who was banned from the range)…but it could have done…which makes it exciting.

Surely by association, I am indeed exciting and interesting right?

What do you mean no?

Bastards.

So you see the sort of crap that us guys are willing to go through to get the girl.  Impressive or Sad, you decide…just don’t tell me about it.

Oh, and as for the object of my desires…we did get together at the weekend event…had lots and lots of fun…and 3 weeks later we were both seeing other, more interesting people.

Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Qualified pilots do not intelligent men make…

HarrierWhen I lived in Germany as a kid, we lived at RAF Gutersloh.   It was a bloody huge base and often ran joint exercises between the differing allied armed forces.   Sometimes they were ground based and more often than not they were aerial dogfights.

During one of these huge aerial exercises, pilots from the UK, US, Russia and a number of other air forces were involved in huge dogfights and things were going pretty well.   Some fantastic manoeuvers were taking place over the base on occasion.   It was a hell of a spectacle.

Now obviously, I wasn’t there during the pilots rest times, but the officers mess was reportedly full of Top Gun’esque testosterone filled tomfoolery, when bets started being made.

Now to explain, a barrel roll occurs when an object (usually an airplane or roller coaster) makes a complete rotation on its longitudinal axis while following a helical path, approximately maintaining its original direction. The G-force is kept positive (but not constant) on the object throughout the maneuver, commonly not more than 2-3 G, and no less than 0.5 G. (Thanks Wikipedia).

So the pilots were in the officers mess, presumably drinking expensive whiskey and smoking cuban cigars or something, when some bright spark challenged the others to perform a barrel roll on takeoff.   This means that they would literally wait until they were slightly beyond wing clearance from the ground, and roll.

So the following day, the Russian MIG pilots head off and perform their role…thereby laying down the gauntlet to the rest….the bet was well and truly on.   Next up, the US air force do their thing..no problem.   Followed by the RAF Tornado pilots….all good.

When up to the runway steps the mighty Harrier Jump Jet.   An aircraft designed for vertical takeoff and short runways.   It has short, stubby wings by comparison to the rest and is not really designed for manoeuverability as flexibility.   So the little aircraft that could…..couldn’t and the pilot, upon reaching takeoff speed, gets up just high enough to clear his wings and begins the roll.   Cut to 5 seconds later and 40 million pounds of high quality aircraft becomes about 50 quid for the scrap merchant to tow it away.

You have to wonder what was going through the pilots head…I mean other than almost the runway.   Just to add to the end of this, the pilot walked away unscathed.   Noone really knew how, but he was one very lucky guy.   He was discharged from the Air Force with terrible rapidity, but still pretty lucky all things considered.

Ahh yes, being a kid on and around RAF bases was fun at times…sure, you had to be pretty disciplined in case your Dad ended up in shit because of you, but it was where we got to fine tune our (already) dry sense of humour.   It was where checking under your car for bombs was a regular and somewhat exciting time…where armed guards would greet you whenever you entered the base.   It’s funny what you become blase about really.   I never saw any danger in any of this stuff, I even used to help Dad check under the car each morning.

I say it’s funny what you become blase about as I was responsible for at least 2 bomb alerts when I was at school.   The first was completely accidental…the 2nd not so.

For my first bomb alert, I was due to stay at a friends for the weekend, and for some reason felt the need to take my alarm clock with me along with my clothes etc.   As I wasn’t really thinking, I left my bag under one of the workbenches in the woodwork class.   Alarm clock…ticking…unattended bag.   All the hallmarks of a panic situation.   Not so for the guys and gals of the bomb squad though as they brought my bag out and blew it up in the school field.   I bloody liked that clock too…it was a Liverpool one Frown

Now the second time I was involved in a bomb alert was not quite so much of an accident.   We were trying to think of ways to bunk off school….whilst actually being at school.   In a normal school this would pose a number of logistical issues, but at a forces school, opportunities were abound.   I essentially recreated my accidental bomb alert…only with an alarm clock and bag that I didn’t really care for very much.   After a little coaxing, we persuaded someone to mention the trigger phrase to one of the teachers.

“Whose bag is that Sir?   It has been there all morning”

Cue school evacuation to the playground and the bomb disposal guys and gals turning up at a hell of a rate.   We were all trying to stifle sniggers as the robot brought the bag out.   It’s not like you see in tBomb robothe films or TV shows..the robot moves terribly slow and it took almost 35 minutes to bring the bag to the safe zone where it was “safely exploded”.   It then took 2 hours to completely sweep the school for any other devices.

I think we left for home about 20 minutes after we were given the all clear to re-enter the school.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone acting like a moron and doing this stuff, but it was the norm for this sort of stuff to happen, and being young and foolish…well, it all seemed like a big laugh.   I like to think that I wouldn’t do anything like this in todays climate and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t.

That said, bomb disposal robots and controlled explosions are way cool.

heh

Is this yours?

I am starting to detect a theme here, a lot of the stories I want to tell seem to revolve around alcohol.   Now I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t generally drink that often and neither do my family.   It’s just that, drunk stories seem to be funnier….at least to me.

Picture the scene.   Family friend and long time Sunderland Football Club supporter Alan has his 50th birthday.   My parents decide to throw a shindig for him at the football club bar.   Many people arrived, many a drink was drunk (all at RAF prices) and a jolly good time was had by all.

Presents that were given included a signed, framed picture of Newcastle United Football Club and a polyester lounge suit that Alan was forced to wear and be pictured with.

Now, when you are young, keeping up with the men is a favourite past time at parties.   When you are old enough to have reasonable drinking experience, you tend to think you have the same capacity as these men….this is a dangerous notion and one that should be stopped immediately.   I was fortunate enough to be a little older and wiser, therefore calling it a night relatively early.

I tried in vain to persuade my brother Kev that the best idea would be to come with me, but by then he had that drunken aura of invincibility that around 10 pints of beer brings you.   I left, he stayed.   Oh dear.

I went back to my parents place and was watching DVDs (Bill Hicks if I recall).   At around 4am the doorbell goes and I wander to the door, ready to hurle abuse at whichever lunatic had forgotten how a house key worked.   Opening the door, I was face to face with a stranger.   This stranger had a large (and slightly angry it seemed) dog.   I breathe in and puff my chest out in the classic pose of bigger is stronger that the animal kingdom tend to employ, when he utters the immortal words :

“Is this yours?”

He turns towards the front lawn and nods.   I recognise immediately that it is Kev….face down and starfished on the grass.     I run over to see if he is ok, while bloke with angry dog wanders off chuckling to himself.

Essentially Kev has been beaten, beaten badly in a drinking competition by the “olds”.   Made worse by the fact that they are still there, still drinking and having a good time.   He was a broken man.

It’s a level of shame that I am not sure he ever recovered from, all I know with any certainty….he never took up that challenge again.

For completeness…I am not a total bastard.   After waking him up and taking the piss for a while, I ended up staying awake all night to make sure he didn’t swallow his tongue or anything stupid.

Next time….it’s his turn to babysit

Stay tuned for more alcohol induced frivolity…

The best days of your life??

So, in a bizzarre twist of, well, my mind I guess. The SP story reminded me of when I was at school.

No, not in an alcohol and sex fuelled way (well, not completely), more in a “SP could have slept with one of my teachers kind of way”.

Let me explain in my usual unnecessarily long winded and wordy way.

My Dad was posted to Guetershloh many years ago (no envelopes were used, this is a military term) and I ended up at school 3892 of my short life (at least thats how it felt). As was the norm in these cases, I was tested to see what class I would be placed in for my continuing education.

I seem to remember not paying attention to what I was doing, and I ended up in the top English class. I didn’t mean for it to happen, I don’t know what I was doing really. You see, I tended to drift at school and decided early on that I would prefer to coast than work hard. Not to get too serious, but it is something I regret with hindsight, as I have had to work that much harder since school to get anywhere. Had I actually applied myself like I was perfectly capable of, I might have had a slightly easier career path. Anyhoo, I digress.

Working hard bad, coasting good.

Right, thats me back on track. So I am now in a class full of hyper intelligent (and bloody boring) ubernerds. It was not fun, and I was all about the fun. Now, in an upcoming post I will explain about confidence or my lack of it in general. Suffice to say that in social settings I am fine, but public speaking is not my thing.

Top set (as it was called) involved a lot of presentations to the rest of the class. Mainly to give your interpretation on some supposed literature and I hated them. They were just another reason to get the hell outta that class.   I was deliberately failing the class to meet my goal, when it came…the big stand-up presentation to the class.   I had prepared well, but about an hour before I was due to give my presentation, the panic started creeping in.   Rather than take the predictable “Sick” route….I decided to cause some chaos.   It was an old school, and some of the fire alarms were large levers rather than the “Break Glass, Push Button” type.   This meant that I could pull the lever quite a way, and balance it rather precariously to allow me the time to return to class before it went off.   Not that I would do anything like that.

After the school was evacuated, I ended up not having to give my presentation and was graded on my notes….result.

So, at the end of the year, my goal was achieved and I got moved into the middle group.   This is where my earlier statement about SP comes into play.

My teacher as a certain Miss Hyde.   She dressed like a tramp (no, not the 50s connotation…an actual tramp/hobo type) and introduced herself to the class as an ex-prositute.   Being over 55, she still insisted on putting herself on display whenever possible, much to the disgust of the class…causing a large percentage to “speak to god on the big white porcelin telephone”.   I think SP would have liked her, although she may have had too many teeth.

I have to say that Kings School was great, I don’t know if it qualifies as the best time of my life, but it was certainly fun.

I remember getting banned from youth club after being caught leaving the toilets with 2 girls…and a porn mag Oops! That led to some interesting discussions at home I can tell you.

For some reason, I ended up as a Prefect at one point.   Probably not the best idea that the teachers ever had.

I got the entire Social Studies class in detention when I persuaded everyone to ditch the class one day.   I never fully understood the idea of that punishment though.   It’s kind of like giving someone a driving ban as a punishment for joyriding.   Suffice to say, it only took me a matter of seconds to convince the class to ignore detention too….

I do remember being particularly evil once though.   Our German tutor was not the strongest woman and unfortunately she was dealing with a class that contained me and James Woolley.   The way I recall it reminds me of a scene from a movie.   The quiet teacher trying to get the attention of the unruly class who are ignoring her and talking.   So, she lost it and started screeching.   This got our attention pretty quick and we all snapped out of whatever we were doing.

Unfortunately she had already lost it and, began telling us how hard she had worked on some visual cue cards to help us with our German vocabulary.   She was doing that staccatto speech-breathing thing that people do (especially kids) when they are trying to hold back from crying.   When she said something that I have never forgotten :

“I spent all night working on these last night, and all you lot can do is mess around and make me hoarse”

What?   You didn’t think it would be some poignant shit that made me straighten up and fly right, and then follow to this very day.   No no no.   What I did was whinney, loudly, like a horse…a big, loud horse.

What happened next goes back to the movies.   She stormed out, and went to fetch her husband who just happened to be the head of year.   By the time they got back, we were all sat prim and proper, studying hard from our text books.

It was quite funny really, they never bought it though and within a minute James, who was sat next to me, was sent to the Headmaster for making the horse noise.

If only I had been thinking, I could quite possibly have been an evil genius.   Although I don’t like sharks, can’t be arsed with lasers and I sweat when the sun comes out, so living under a volcano doesn’t really appeal….

Honesty is the best policy

A few years ago, the elder of my two younger brothers got married.

It was a fantastic day and everything that it should have been for the married couple.   Everything went superbly from the “Mad Professor” organist to me spinning my Nan around in her wheelchair because “she would love to dance with everyone, but can’t these days”*

My youngest brother gave the speech, and quite frankly blew everyone away.   Who  knew he could be so eloquent and funny….clearly he has my share.    I was trying to take photographs of the speeches, so I  can’t remember the entire speech, but the  opening was fantastic.

“Being asked to be best man is kind of like being asked to have sex with the queen…. It’s a great honour, but nobody really wants to do it”

I don’t know if that had been done before, but a lot of  photos came  out blurry just after that Grin  

Now, as has already been mentioned, my dad was in the RAF, so as such we led a pretty fantastic life.   I wouldn’t say that we were spoilt, but we certainly weren’t left wanting for anything.   Living in the security of the British Armed Forces, you have experiences that a lot of people may never get the opportunity to have.   You tend to have a very dry and sarcastic sense of humour.   You also get used to certain things.

One of those things is (in my case) RAF bars.   RAF bars (to the uninitiated) run at cost for the most part, and tend to be staffed by service personnel as part of their job.   Let me give you an example; A single shot of Smirnoff Vodka in a normal UK bar would set you back around ?2.00, in an RAF bar you would be expecting to pay around ?0.60

 To my family and I, this is perfectly normal.   To people that are close enough to my family and I to be invited to bases regularly, this is normal.   To most of the guests of my brothers wedding, most of whom have never been to an RAF base…let alone a bar, this is not normal at all.

 I recall buying a round of drinks for 10 people and getting change from a tenner…yes folks, it is THAT good.   I recommend applying to your nearest RAF recruitment center Grin

Now, to the title of the post.   After this happend the first time, I actually stayed at the bar so that I could watch the reactions of people when asked for payment.  

It was very easy to classify family and regular visitors, their behaviour is thus:

  1. Order
  2. Pay
  3. Thank barman/woman/person <— damn political correctness
  4. Make the statement “And one for yourself” to the barthingy <— this is how they earn a bit extra
  5. Take drinks
  6. Leave

It was also quite easy to classify those that have been to an RAF bar or two in their time:

  1. Order
  2. Pay
  3. Thank barthingy and laugh about how cheap it is
  4. Make  hysterical comment about how you  would never leave etc etc  
  5. Wait for polite laugh of embarassment from barthingy to confirm that you are indeed a comedy genius
  6. Take drinks
  7. Leave

It was also easy to spot those that were in an RAF bar for the very first time… However, they fell into two distinct categories:

Category 1 behaviour:

  1. Order
  2. Ask for price
  3. Show moderate disbelief and ask for price again
  4. Confirm that barthingy hasn’t forgotten to add the <insert multiple beverage here> to the bill
  5. Ask for price again
  6. Pay
  7. Thank barthingy and laugh about how cheap it is
  8. Take drinks
  9. Leave

Category 2 behaviour:

  1. Order
  2. Ask for price
  3. Raise eyebrows for a split nanosecond and fumble in wallet/purse for money quick
  4. Practically throw money at barthingy
  5. Whilst waiting for change, beckon friends to sprint over and get all the drinks
  6. Take change
  7. Smile to self and skulk away before someone notices that a ?30 round just cost you ?5

It was category 2 that kept me at the bar for the better part of an hour, that and the ?0.50 cost of the ApfelKorn Grin.   I guess what I found the most funny about this was that, their behaviour was repeated every time they came to the bar.   Although they would try and send someone else each time, I assume that this was just in case the barthingy realised that they had made a mistake and came after them.

What is the point of this?   None really, although observing this behaviour gave me an evil thought.   It may also have been the Apfelkorn, I can never be sure…

I waited a little longer until I saw a category 2 male heading to the toilets and followed.   When he was on his way back, I took him to one side and told him that the barmaid had been sent home (true, she had been working 8 hours and someone else came in to take over).   Apparently the till was around ?90 lighter than it should have been.   I also may have mentioned that, as the barmaid is a member of the RAF, she would not get fired, but she would be arrested by the Military Police on grounds of theft.   I couldn’t quite commit to, but recognise the possibility that, I may have also said that it is likely she would be courtmarshalled.   I also seem to recall a voice, not too dissimilar to mine, mentioning that this particular barmaid had already been questioned before about undercharging and possible theft, which is why it was so serious now.

My explanation for not turning him in, my dad was in the RAF and had vouched for every person on the base for the wedding, even if he didn’t know them, and he could get in trouble for this.

I told him that if I happened to “find” the missing money, I could claim that she had dropped it whilst counting the till (quite impressed he bought that tbh)…I said that people would believe me because of my dad, but that we only had about 15 minutes before the MPs arrived.

I waited for him to round up the money from his cohorts and told him I would go and “find it”**

The moral of this tale?   READ THE FUCKING PRICELIST ON THE WALL NEXT TO YOU

People can be idiots

* How I didn’t make her throw up is beyond me…she always loved having fun  – RIP Nan, I am always thinking about you…

** I did give it back later. No honestly..I really did