Celtic Illumination, part 120, Beaten with the stupid stick
There was a group of us from Valley who, thanks to John Wilkinson, were always visiting Warrington. It wasn’t party central but there were quite a number of female flavoured ladies there, which is enough of a reason for any red blooded, young, single, male to visit. I do remember being on my way to visit one young lady, Karen, when my car broke down. When I say broke down, what happened was, is that I had left the motorway and was navigating along some country roads. There was a clunk, and although the car was still making motor car noises, there didn’t seem to be any power.
As luck would have it I was still freewheeling along the road when I saw a garage. I pulled in and was welcomed by the standard hand wiping mechanic. “We don’t sell petrol here,” he said, as he walked towards me. “I don’t need any,” I replied, adding. “My car has broken down.” As he inspected the vehicle, Paddy’s old Vauxhall Victor, I telephoned Karen who said she would come and collect me. Seems that the gear box had fallen off, which I understand from the mechanic, was quite important for the machine to work properly.
Karen arrived and it was agreed that rather than try and source a replacement gear box, the mechanic would weld the old one back together and back on to the car. This allowed me to continue with my short break and the important task of enjoying myself. I promise you I tried my hardest to enjoy myself and you know, I probably had a very good time, but as with all good times they have to come to an end.
I was at Warrington train station and calculated that I would be late back to Valley and therefore late for work. The days of scrubbing the white lines outside the guardroom, with a toothbrush while getting screamed at, were far behind me and I didn’t want to get Jankers again so I telephoned air traffic to warn them. Luckily Paddy Reardon answered the telephone so I thought I would explain that it was the car he had sold me that had broken down, therefore theoretically it was his fault that I would be late for work. “Hello Paddy,” I yelled, down the phone as the train was pulling in. “I’m…” “I’m very busy!” shouted Paddy, although why he was shouting I have no idea. “I’ll call you back!” After which he hung up.
I didn’t think that he was telepathic so he wouldn’t have known that I was at Warrington train station and therefore couldn’t call me back. I couldn’t call him back, as the conductor chappie was waving his flag and blowing his whistle to indicate that the train was about to pull out, either that or he was desperate for a pee. I had no choice but to get on board and head for North Welsh Wales.
Luckily for me Paddy remembered that I had telephoned him and accepted that I had tried to warn him that I would be late for work, so no charges were laid against me. I didn’t have long to go with my six months of impressing the boss so I didn’t want to ruin that. Thankfully with the constant to and froing from Warrington, it was easy enough for me to get a lift back to Warrington and collect my repaired car.
I don’t know why but I enjoyed driving all sorts of vehicles, just to get a feel of the vehicle. If I was on duty over a weekend I would always pop over to the fire station and see if they would allow me to race one of their fire engines along the runway. Great fun. And every time they got a new flavour of vehicle I would be there asking permission to give it a blast on the airfield. One day they got a sort of range rover type rescue truck, Crash One. Something about red machines, that went very fast, always brought out the good ol boy in me. Having put it through its paces on the airfield, I returned to the fire section to see that they had taken delivery of a new Gemini rescue craft and were about to head for the beach and take it out on its maiden voyage.
Hanging on to the steering wheel of a fire truck as it hammers along a runway is great fun, but to give a rescue boat some wellie was something I was up for. I helped the firemen attach the Gemini on its trailer to the new Crash One and informed air traffic that the fire section had asked me to help them out with this exercise. We went off to the beach, which was just the far side of the airfield. I parked up as I cleared the sand dunes and hit the beach, I didn’t want to find any soft sand.
I walked down to the water’s edge where everyone was giving their opinion as to how the craft should be launched. This is what happens when you ask civilians to do something. Had they been military flavoured then there would have been a man in charge and there would have been written instructions, in triplicate, to follow. We got the Gemini into the water and were reversing back into the waves to float it off, when Crash One began to sink in the soft sand. Could have been something to do with the five hundred gallons of water on its back, although I’m no expert.
As this was a new vehicle no one was exactly sure how to get it into four wheel drive, which we all believed was the proper way to free the vehicle. I was confused that a six wheeled vehicle would have four wheel drive, but then what did I know? Although it may already have been in four wheel drive, we weren’t sure. My land rover was too light to be of any assistance, so another crash vehicle was sent for. With the new and much larger crash vehicle on the beach and tow rope attached, an attempt was made to extricate the land rover and the Gemini. Being much larger meant that the rescue vehicle was much heavier than the range rover so it too began to sink. The tow rope was disconnected and the large crash vehicle was removed from the beach. What happened next I found quite amusing.
Because Crash One was not available for duty, as it was stuck in the sand, Valley had to downgrade its operational status until Crash One was recovered. Specialist equipment would have to be brought out. A report would have to be made. Forms would have to be filled out, despite the fact that they were civilians they were employed by the ministry of defence so would have as much paperwork, in triplicate, as we would. Why were heavy vehicles sinking in soft sand? Why had no research been carried out to find a suitable and safe place to launch the craft? I suggested that a good excuse would have been to claim that as a rescue craft, you couldn’t pick and choose where accidents would occur. Therefore to make your training as realistic as possible you should launch in as many different places as possible and actually experience various different setbacks which you would have to learn to overcome.
No, the firemen decided that it was my entire fault, that I was a Jonah. I had brought them bad luck. Needless to say I wasn’t invited to join in with any fun and games at the fire section any more. And as for the range rover and the Gemini. I don’t know what happened there. I left them to it as they all seemed to have been beaten with the stupid stick, as far as I know they could still be there arguing about the best way to free the vehicle.