Celtic Illumination, part 70, sirens, jam sandwiches and gorillas
For those of you who have been to a function at a rugby club you will know that there is a series of questions you have to ask yourself the following morning when you regain consciousness. If it was a full-on session with unlimited quantities of lunatic soup consumed then the first question could be who am I? I kid you not, I actually woke up one day and thought I was Jesus, but that happens in a few years’ time so we won’t dwell on that.
Before the first question is asked you have to check if any other people are with you. I realised that I was in a bed and on my own, all by myself. Should you find that you are not on your own, then the questions will be asked at a much faster rate and an extra question will be added as in, ‘What’s her fecking name?’ Assuming that it is a female you wake up with, although every time I woke up with a male, I would just call him Father. The first question, for the average drinker, is ‘Where am I?’ I was aware that I was in temporary accommodation at RAF Innsworth, in a four man room. Once you have established who you are and where you are, the next question is asked and that is ‘How did I get here?’
You might think that this is a bit of a wasted question, but no. You force yourself to think back and remember when you left the club, did you leave alone or were you accompanied. Next you try to recall any activities you may have been involved in, before reaching the place you now find yourself. You non-drinkers have it easy. I couldn’t remember how, or why, or even when, I had left the rugby club so dismissed the question as I was moving on to the next question, which as everyone knows is “Where is the fecking gorilla?’
The gorilla is of course a mythological creature that creeps in while you are sleeping, steals all your money, throws your clothes all over the place and then pees in your mouth, which is why after a good session in the rugby club you wake up smacking your lips, feeling as if you have been sucking a tramps socks all night long. The gorilla and myself were quite good friends so I passed over that question too, but continued on the mythological track as there were three sirens standing at the bottom of my bed.
Before any of you try to make a connection between sirens and jam sandwiches I am referring to the sirens of Greek mythology like what you find in Homers Odyssey. That’s a Greek poem, by a Greek bloke, and if you haven’t read it, then fair enough, you obviously didn’t go to a school like Violent Hell. At the foot of my bed were three females enticing me with their beauty and their sweet song to accompany them. Thankfully they did not want to take me to the underworld, more the underground, as I had fallen in with their company the previous evening and agreed to go to London with them on a coach trip they had arranged.
I had a great weekend and after a hearty breakfast on the Monday morning went to report to headquarters. I was informed that I was now a TAG, a trade assistant general. Don’t let the general bit misdirect you. A TAG was the lowest form of life in the air force. If someone spilled a bucket of water they would send for a TAG to clean it up. If you thought the windows in your office were dirty you sent for a Tag to clean them. You get my drift? TAGs were normally kept in the guardroom along with the naughty boys.
I was sent off to the blanket store where the TAGs congregated and the tasks were allocated. My first task was to go and paint a hangar floor. I was quite excited, I don’t think I had even seen an aircraft yet, but disappointment loomed again for this hangar, although built to house aircraft, was now in use by stores for storing things. I was given a bucket of red leaded paint and an appropriately sized brush and then the man very kindly showed me where the floor was, and told me to paint it. I’m not saying that this fellow pointed at the floor and told me that’s the floor down there under your feet, paint it; he took me to the hanger, then pointed at the floor and told me to paint it.
I have to admit that I enjoyed it. I was on my own, just me and the paint and no other person bothered me. At meal times I simply wandered off and had a meal and then returned. It was a large hangar so it did take me a few days to complete the task. I was getting to know the other fellows. Although I was in a four man room there was only one other chap with me. I can’t remember his name but I do remember that he was a geek. I don’t mean that in an offensive way. He was small, thin, blonde hair and wore heavy spectacles. He was a geek, but a nice, pleasant, fellow.
I met other fellows, yet I can remember not one of their names. One, who we shall call Mister Swagger came into our room and was talking to the other fellow, the geek. He was very loud and cocky. From the way he spoke I could see that he was a bit of a bully. He relished the fact that I was Irish and began to recite every Irish joke he knew. His two sidekicks laughed at every joke. I didn’t, neither did the geek.
Mister Swagger noticed that my wrist watch had a square face and he began to mock me. He was saying that only a stupid Irishman would have a square watch. At this point I knew what could happen but I was determined I wasn’t going to get in any more trouble. I asked why he didn’t have a square watch. At that time the United Kingdom was midway through the process of switching everything from imperial to metric. I explained to Mister Swagger that my square watch was one of the new metric watches. He listened eagerly as I explained that there was going to be fifty seconds in a minute, fifty minutes in an hour and only twenty hours in a day.
I then, very kindly I might add, explained that should he go to any jeweller in town he could hand his own round watch in and exchange it, free of charge, for another of similar value. If he wanted he could choose a more expensive watch and only have to pay the difference. In a flash he, with his two sidekicks, were off to town to change their watches. My little geek friend smiled, so did I. But I knew that on his return Mister Swagger might have to be shown that I could walk on the rice paper without making a sound.