Celtic Illumination, part 116, an obligate ectoparasite
Either Valley had changed or I had changed, or perhaps both of us had changed. The job was still the same, answering a telephone and writing things down. The best position to work in, local control, seemed to have a thicko sitting there permanently, requiring extra training. I was still drawn to the night flying shed, where the bullshit levels remained close to zero. Unfortunately I had a plan, a simple plan, get back to being sergeant aircrew air electronics, throwing stones at submarines from Nimrods, then switch on the dazzle button, take a commission, and zoom up into the high level officer’s ranks.
Had I known then that I would never be allowed to get a commission, I would have walked there and then. It would appear that people with strong accents, like myself, would never be able to lead people, make decisions or even do their job properly. Sort of reminds you of the sign that used to hang in the windows of English boarding houses stating ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish. Always pissed me off that they rated me lower than a dog. Anyway at that time I still had hope and wasn’t aware of ‘the rules.’ If you remember what I said before, one function of the British armed forces is to sustain the class system, so you would never find one of the good ol boys sitting at top table. Talk about glass ceilings.
The old hands, the warrant officers and flight sergeants were always friendly and helpful so I was able to access their experience and find out exactly what I should do to get ahead. I learned that it didn’t matter how good you were at your job, you could only get promoted by taking on secondary duties. These duties would be engaged outside working hours. You could play sports or join entertainment committees, charity committees or join one of the many club committees each camp would host, such as a drama club or a families club.
I was rubbish at sports, except hurling, but the air force didn’t play that one. It was quite strange that we would complain about people who were good at sport. They would get every Wednesday afternoon off and for away matches and training would have even more time off. If the individual was really good at sport then they could progress from representing the station to playing for a command team or even representing the air force itself. Had I any sense at all, rather than complain about the footballers and cricketers, I should have taken up a sport myself.
One such fellow at Valley was John Lewis. John was a lovely, pleasant, average, English guy. I think he came from somewhere in middle England. John was brilliant at football and cricket and we hated him because he was always away playing sport. When I say hate him, I don’t mean that we actually hated John, he was a lovely fellow, but we were perhaps jealous of the skills he possessed that got him so much time off.
John actually organised a cricket match once for air traffic control. It was supposed to be an evening event with beer and a barbeque but the assistants would be against the controllers, so there was a competitive edge to the match. I remember standing at the wicket. I mean come on; I was the original big, ruffie tuffie. The bowler lined up and then began to run towards the crease. He unleashed the ball, which up until now, I was convinced that I would just swipe away into the middle distance.
I think this is where my dancing skills came into play, for I found myself side stepping out of the way as the ball whizzed past to be expertly caught by the wicket keeper. I am not sure how fast the cricket ball had been travelling at but I was sure that if I had remained where I was, my head would have come clean off. I dropped the cricket bat and left the pitch never to play cricket again. I couldn’t care less what they said about me, they could call me what they wanted, but the one thing I could safely say I wasn’t, was daft. Cricketers have my full respect. It is a very dangerous game however it could bore the buttons of a shirt. John Boy did try to get me to attend a cricket match once explaining that the bar was open throughout the match, even that wasn’t enough of a temptation to get me through the turnstile.
As for John Lewis, he married a local girl and we were all invited to the wedding. John cornered me a couple of days before the event and asked if I would do a favour for him. As I said before John was a lovely fellow so I agreed. He explained that he had certain friends and family attending the wedding and would like me to escort his cousin, an RAF nurse, female flavoured of course, for the evening. This would mean picking her up from her hotel and returning her there at the end of the evening.
It was a fantastic evening and I do remember that the young nurse and myself decided that Docker would be sleeping in the bath that night. I do remember this because we came back to the domestic site on the bonnet of a car. Don’t worry we didn’t look out of place on the bonnet, as there were three of four others on the roof. I made sure that the young lady was returned to her hotel the following morning, bright and early, so that no one would suspect that she had been out all night viewing my etchings.
John was very happy with my behaviour and declared that his cousin had had a fantastic time. The incident was forgotten about. Well; when I say forgotten about, I had accepted the evening as a brief encounter, ships that pass in the night and all that. Which is probably the best way to describe it, as there was a sort of nautical edge to what happened next. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you’ve ever been stood standing in front of a medic with your trousers and shreddies around your ankles. With the medic inspecting your bits and pieces, moving your John Thomas around with a wooden spatula. Your heart sort of sinks when he announces that you must shave from your nipples to your knees, burn all your sheets and blankets and apply some foul smelling ointment to your torso twice a day. The humiliation is only complete when he says ‘Oh and by the way you must inform the other person.’ I had no contact details for the young lady so had to ask John to pass the information on. I don’t know who was the more embarrassed me or John. But true to form, he was a dammed good sport about it all.