Celtic Illumination, part 93, But I did not shoot the deputy
Bill ‘John Boy’ Walton, lived in the room directly opposite mine. John Boy was like myself and Docker, ranked as a Novice. We were the lowest form of life on the team and the standard of Trialist that was coming forward was not very high, so we would be the whipping boys for some time. I don’t suppose there was anything specific that would stick out about John Boy. He was a very nice fellow, always up for a laugh and spoke with a sort of London accent. Oh yeah, he had two watches.
Now you probably think this not strange at all. John Boy had one watch, which he wore on a daily basis and another watch, his dress watch, which he wore on special occasions. I could never get my head around that. For me it was ridiculous extravagance, but then what do I know? I had one watch, a decent robust Timex, I still have it.
Something was happening at Caernarvon at, and around, the castle. Some sort of festival or celebration. John Boy and I were detailed to take a long wheel base land rover over and put on a static display. We arrived in Caernarvon on the Friday about lunch time and set up our stall. Actually we had two large frame tents, which we erected, and then, having placed them end to end opened one long side and set out our display.
I didn’t think anyone would be interested but the children especially would want to mess about with ice axes and carabineers. On the Saturday we were both extremely bored and decided that there was no point in the pair of us being there. As well as us there were all sorts of military flavoured personnel there from the navy and army. So the social scene the previous evening had been quite lively. It was only after we staggered out of the pub that we realised we had no accommodation, not that it mattered to us. We went to the display tents and stretched out our sleeping bags on the ground.
We opened at nine o clock and were bored silly by five past. At eleven we agreed that one of us could go to the pub for one hour, but who was to go first? We decided that, as John Boy was the senior man, he outranked me by three or four months, he could have the first session. Unfortunately the pubs would close at half past two and this was eleven o clock in the morning. This meant that John Boy would get two, full, one hour sessions while I would only get one full hour and then the final session which was half an hour. Rank surely does have its privileges.
For some reason I was allowed to stay in the pub a little longer and staggered back to our display about four o clock. John Boy was not impressed. Neither was I. I had had enough of this stupidity so closed the flap on the tent on the left hand side. Took the stretcher from the display into the tent on the left hand side, lay down on it and went to sleep. I’m sure many of you who had had one over the odds, at lunch time, have felt the need for a wee sleep to allow the effects of the alcohol to wear off. It’s nice to wake refreshed.
I was far from refreshed when I woke. I think it would be fair to say that I was confused, for when I awoke from my slumber I was faced with a group of screaming kids. It would appear that John Boy had waited for me to achieve the REM state of sleep before rolling up the side flap of the tent and allowing all who came by, to see me. He then told passing children that I was in fact a dead body and he was waiting for a helicopter to come and take me away. The children of course loved helicopters and were hanging around waiting for it when I decided to come back from the dead.
We actually packed up early the next day and left, for we couldn’t stand just hanging around doing nothing, and anyway, it was a Sunday, the pubs were not open. No matter who or what rank you held on the team your team mates would stick up for you. I was told to report to The Sheriff’s office one day. The head military police officer on any unit would be referred to as ‘The Sheriff’, well; they would be called an awful lot of other nasty names, so let’s just stick with The Sheriff for the moment.
I went to The Sheriff’s office and found him drinking coffee with a civilian police officer. I couldn’t remember having done anything wrong so asked what he wanted to see me about. He referred to a piece of paper and read out a registration number. It was the team car, the Rover 2000.
“This officer saw you speeding this morning on the road into Holyhead.”
“He’s got poor fecking eyesight!” I said. “Because I was nowhere near Holyhead this morning!”
“Where is your car at the moment?” asked the Sheriff.
“Up at the mountain rescue section,” I said.
“No it isn’t,” said the Sheriff. “It’s over there on my car park.”
I wasn’t going to go and have a look; I took his word for it. The meeting then descended into a bit of a vocal to and fro. I actually knew nothing about the car being in Holyhead, however, it was the team car, and it wasn’t parked at the section, it was on camp. It was easy enough to work out that someone had been to Holyhead in the car, refused to stop for PC Plod, and had dumped the car in the main station car park. Now it was their turn to roll the dice.
“That vehicle is not taxed or insured.”
I agreed but explained; well; lied, that it was off the road and being repaired.
As nothing could be proven, apart from the fact that the car was not taxed, or insured, therefore illegal, The Sheriff gave me one hour to get the car off camp or else he would take action against me.
I could see no problem with that, whoever had used the car would have left the keys in it, and as long as there was enough fuel, I would simply drive it back up to the section.
PC Plod had another roll of the dice. “I’ll be waiting at the main gate and if I see you drive that car on the public highway I will throw the book at you!”
I wandered over to the car checking my watch every few seconds because this was a tricky one. I couldn’t drive across the airfield as I would still have to use a bit of the public highway on the far side and then there were all the baby pilots, in the little red and white aircraft, they wouldn’t like me hammering across the runway as they did their daily bumps and rollers.
I got to the car and noticed that as well as the keys being in the ignition something strange was going on at the bonnet. I was inspecting this area when John Boy came over to me. Having explained what had just happened to me John Boy apologised as it was he who had been driving the car that morning. Seems that John Boy had been entertaining a young lady from Holyhead in his room. Something about showing her his sketches. Anyway the following morning, yes I know, he had an awful lot of sketches, absolutely prolific with the old pencil and pad was John Boy.
According to John Boy he was in a bit of a hurry so had his foot down. There’s a lovely straight bit of road on the causeway that joins Holy Island to Anglesey Island and Jon Boy had floored the powerful old Rover. Unfortunately the bonnet flew open and wrapped itself back across the windshield. John Boy got out, pulled the bonnet back into position, or as close to it as he could, and then secured the bonnet with his RAF belt. Then he resumed driving, dropped the young lady at her home and made it back to Valley in time for his duty. At no time during any of the preceding was he aware of PC Plod, in a jam sandwich, following him.
It still left us with the problem of moving the car without incurring the wrath of either the military or the civilian police. It was John Boy who came up with the answer. He promised that within half an hour, or at least before the time limit the Sheriff had imposed on me expired; the car would be back at the mountain rescue section. We could see The Sheriff smile as we moved off, we may have been law breakers but at least we were his law breakers. You could tell from the look on the civilian police officers face that he wasn’t impressed, but we were. We got the Rover back to the section and covered it with a tarpaulin where it would stay, till someone needed it again.
So how did we do it? Well, John Boy worked occasionally for a local garage doing little welding jobs for them. He had simply gone to the local civilian garage and borrowed their tow truck. We towed the Rover back to the section behind an official break down recovery vehicle.