Celtic Illumination, part 111, School’s out.
I entered the staff area in the tower at Cranwell having just had my welcome interview with the SATCO. A number of comments were made about me doing the laundry or being the new laundry boy. It was all in good humour and I shouldn’t have expected any less. One fellow, who was actually answering the telephone and writing things down, had a chess set out and was informing any who would listen that he had bought this while stationed in Cyprus. I could tell from the look on the faces of the other chaps that this fellow was most probably the station bore.
He then begins to address me, asking how long I was to be there for. “Three months.” I explained. “Ah well,” he said. “There’s no point in trying to train you up for anything you can make the tea and coffee for the next three months.” Now if you remember making tea and coffee was considered a task far too hazardous a task for me to carry out at Valley, although if the truth be told I wasn’t the one facing the hazard. In fact I had been banned from making tea and coffee at Valley. I decided not to tell him this but instead gave him an expletive laden mouthful that hopefully conveyed my opinion of him, what I thought of his proposal and what I now suggested he should go and do to himself, which of course I knew was a physical impossibility.
He immediately left the area and I thought that perhaps he wasn’t such a bad chap after all if he had gone off to find a private spot and try what I had suggested he do. However, once again, I was wrong and a nervous sergeant came in and asked me to accompany him to the SATCO’s office. Luckily the SATCO must have completed a course in conflict management, however he then explained to the duty bore why I was at Cranwell and the new status I enjoyed as a high intensity air trafficker. If I needed any training at all it would be minimal.
The duty bore didn’t put up any argument. It was suggested that perhaps I should go and start afresh the following day; it was close to four o clock anyway, so I was only getting away about an hour early. It didn’t really mean that much as it was a good half hour walk back to my room. I went and had my tea and as with breakfast, knew I should be telling myself off, but what for? All I had done this time was stand up for myself, admittedly I may have been a tish forceful and used colourful language, that you wouldn’t use in front of your vicar, but for God’s sake, this was the military. Why do you think they say that someone swore like a trooper?
I promised myself to be a good boy and wandered off to my room. The other three chaps were there, two were fiddling about with their clothes while the third was stretched out on his bed with a magazine over his face. I noticed that my bags had been removed from the bed and placed on the floor. The clothes from the table had been replaced on my bed. This time I just grabbed them and threw them onto the table. I then lifted my bags and dumped them on my bed. At a rough glance I estimated that the two chaps fiddling with their clothes were geeks, how I always ended up with the geeks I don’t know. The one stretched out on the bed didn’t move.
“I suggest you lift my clothes off the floor and put them back where you found them,” said the fellow on the bed, still with the magazine over his face.
It was so obvious from the look on the face of the two geeks that this was the daddy. Well; he had probably told them that he was the daddy. I could smell a bully from fifty paces, but unlike the geeks, I wouldn’t stand for them.
“As the senior man in this room you should always ask me before you touch anything,” he said. I wondered what comic book he had been reading to maintain such an attitude, for this was the armed forces and school was out. It was his birthday, or something, for there were all sorts of cards around his bed and over his locker. One long string of cards hung above his bed like a sort of mobile you would find above a child’s cot. I went over and was impressed that the fellow hadn’t moved. He must have heard my footsteps come across the room but yet he still lay there.
I took out my cigarette lighter and lit the bottom card, on the string, hanging from the ceiling.
“Don’t ever talk to me like that again,” I said, as I walked away.
I couldn’t believe that the guy still lay there, but one of the geeks warned him that he should move before the blazing cards tumbled down on him and set him on fire.
With the warning issued he moved the magazine, saw what was happening, and leapt off his bed. Like the duty bore in air traffic he immediately reverted to a six year old and having extinguished the fire, ran out of the room to tell someone.
With him gone the two geeks came over and offered me their hands. I can’t remember their names, but they did seem to be relieved that the tyrant would appear to have been disposed. I had unbuttoned my jacket and was taking garments from my kit bags and hanging them up in my wardrobe. The two geeks were filling me on on the standard social life at Cranwell as in when the cinema was open, where the television rooms were, when the disco were held and the best and worst places to avoid and attend.
Although I was exuding a cool exterior I was quite worried in case the senior man would actually try to get me into trouble. My first full day at Cranwell was almost over and I had escaped numerous major bollockings by the skin of my teeth. My senior man came back in and luckily for me he hadn’t sought out a senior rank to mediate, he had brought his friend along. The friend was not a qualified mediator he was tall.
They came into the centre of the room and it was so obvious that they were intent on having a confrontation. I reached into my bag and pulled out another garment. It was my turn now to be nonchalant. The tall friend stepped forward, and then stopped.
“Is that a mountain rescue badge?” he asked, pointing at my sleeve.
“Sorry mate,” he said, holding both hands up. “I thought he said you were somebody else.” at which he left the room. The senior man didn’t know what to do. I thanked my lucky starts that nothing had happened, for if I had been involved in another incident that day I don’t think I could have handled it, never mind Cranwell.