Celtic Illumination, part 114, Welcome home
Many of you will probably be sensible people who, when planning for a long train journey, will find yourself a decent book, a selection of various refreshments and have some sort of idea or plan for your trip. My plan for the long train journey from London to Holyhead in North Welsh Wales was simple. I had been drinking solid for three days and so the moment I had stowed my bags, I sat myself down and fell asleep. The only good thing about the London to Holyhead train was that it stopped at Holyhead, which allowed you to sink into a deep sleep and not worry about missing your station.
I woke in Holyhead refreshed and took my time getting off the train, rather than join in with the melee that was aiming for the single exit slot. I could see Norma waiting and was pleased that I had nipped into a top of the range, dead posh, designer shop in London to buy her some perfume. That’s a little bit of a lie, well; a complete porky if you must know. I bought a bag full of supposedly knock off perfume on Oxford Street. You know the guys who sell stuff from a suitcase. Well muggins here bought a bag of perfume, smelled all right to me, and had all the proper names on the bottles.
I had a lot to do that evening, as in, get back to Valley and get a bed somewhere, however as Norma had turned up I wondered what the evening would now have in store. Norma was very pleased with her present although even that didn’t seem to cheer her up. I asked her what was worrying her, because I was a caring sort of chap. Norma explained to me that she had come to the train station that evening to meet her boyfriend.
I was intrigued to discover that this was not my good self and I put my lack of observation, or alertness, down to the session I had just endured in Cricklewood. It occurred to me that I hadn’t told Norma what train I would be coming in on, I hadn’t even told her what day I was coming back. With me away helping the Prince of Wales learn how to drive a fast jet, Norma’s parents encouraged her to find a nice Welsh chap, which she had done, and was now engaged to.
As I was returning from a detachment I was theoretically on duty and therefore entitled to some transport. I telephoned Valley and they sent some transport to collect me. The guard commander was not chuffed as he would have to miss his favourite television programme if he had to find me a bed somewhere, would I not rather spend the night in a cell and start fresh the next morning? I declined his sweet offer and was given a bed, in what I can only describe as a store room. I got my head down straight away as I needed to be fresh for the following day as I knew I was facing a lot of running about.
Once again I had to arrive at Valley and go around each section getting my chitty signed. By lunchtime I arrived at air traffic control and waited for my arrival interview with the SATCO. I knew that I was getting a splendid report from Cranwell and I also knew that he would have had this by telephone. The report was crawling its way across country in a brown envelope so this was standard practise.
I was surprised that getting dumped by Norma didn’t really cause me much concern, well any concern at all, if I was to tell the truth. I still had Catherine and then there was that girl in Warrington, but for the moment I needed to see the SATCO and ensure that my aircrew application was active and its progress hadn’t been affected by any incident at Cranwell. Some fellow poked his head in and said “I’ll see you now.” It was only when the admin sergeant said that’s the new SATCO that I realised Norma wasn’t the only lump of my life that had changed.
He was very nice and welcomed me back. He explained that he had spoken to the SATCO at Cranwell and was pleased that I had been so well received there and gave a good impression of the high standards at Valley. When it was my turn to speak I asked him if he was aware of my aircrew application. He said no.
I explained that the previous SATCO had told me that I had to act as a young gentleman would for six months, stay out of trouble and be a good boy. If I managed that, then he was going to submit my application for aircrew selection. The new SATCO explained that this was not a standard way of assessing potential aircrew candidates and was a personal decision by the previous SATCO. However it was a good idea so, as he didn’t know me, he would implement the same process. I could conduct myself as a proper young fellow for six months and if I did so he would consider submitting my aircrew application.
If I had been able to take myself out and punch myself in the face I would have. Cranwell had offered to put me forward for aircrew, if I had stayed there, and now I was back with no girlfriend, well one less girlfriend, and having to start all over again because of the whim of a failed fast jet pilot. I explained that I had to go and find myself a bedroom on camp as I knew that if I hung around much longer, there’s a good chance I would explode. Then it hit me, I would just volunteer for dangerous duties again and get away from them all.
I told the SATCO that I would want to volunteer for dangerous duties and he smiled at me. How could he observe me if I was away running about mountains? No I would have to stay at air traffic control and impress him if I was serious about this aircrew thing. Now you’ve probably heard the expression about the bottom falling out of your world however, after my three day session in Cricklewood, I think the world was falling out of my bottom. I wandered away from air traffic control in a daze.
I found the bedding store and admittedly had forgotten all about Louis. Louis hadn’t forgotten about me and had saved a special room for me on my return. At the end of each corridor of single man rooms would be a sitting room. These, because of a single accommodation shortage were now being used as six man rooms. Louis had managed to keep one of these rooms under the radar and had allocated two people to it. One was no other than myself and I have to say I was pleased to hear my roommate was none other than Docker himself. I hoped that he would have no surprises in store for me.