Celtic Illumination, part 124, follow the yellow brick road
I suppose for most people it takes a wee while for the fact that you are moving on to sink in. A sort of emptiness faces you. Most people in the armed forces love travelling and at short notice too, but this, a new posting is a major event. I did have time to get my head around it as I was told that I had to attend a specialist course at Shawbury. This was an area radar familiarisation course. This was the air force and air traffic control. I promise you, if I was running my own private company, I could have taught what little information was given out, over that week long course, in ten minutes flat.
For some reason I was not in my car, I cannot remember why. I do remember that using public transport to get to Shawbury was a real pain. I arrived at Shrewsbury and rang MT flight at Shawbury. They told me to get a bus, they were busy. I made my way to the correct bus stop and waited. There was no information about bus times so I had to wait and hope. A car pulled up and a fellow called out to me. “Going to Shawbury?” I nodded. “Come on,” he called, and I threw my kit bag onto his rear seat and sat myself down beside him on the passenger seat.
As we drove along he informed me that he was actually a civilian, that he always wanted to join the air force but never did. He liked giving young RAF men lifts. He liked helping out. He then began to morph into a standard pervert, talking about naked young men in a shower together. He asked me if I liked sport. I decided to frighten him. “No,” I said. “I don’t have time for sport I’m on mountain rescue.” This was a polite way of saying if you come near me I’ll rip your fecking head off. Unfortunately this information seemed to excite the driver who now began to comment on how strong my thighs must be.
Having the most loveliest legs in Ireland had me accustomed to people, mainly women, swooning and adoring my legs. Some chaps would often comment about how lovely my legs were and, having studied the classics, I knew that there was a group of people who practised ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ however I can honestly say I never had any interest in becoming a friend of Dorothy or even a passing acquaintance.
The air force had a very blinkered view toward homosexuality. It wasn’t allowed in any shape or form. In fact there was quite a good rumour that went around stating that if two airmen were sitting on a bed together they had to have both feet placed firmly on the floor otherwise they were guilty of homosexuality. They didn’t bother me but this fellow annoyed me. He was a predator and what’s more he was driving past the turn off for Shawbury.
“Stop!” I said, forcefully enough for him to pull over to the side of the road.
“You’ve just driven past the turn off for Shawbury.” “Have I?” he said, turning and looking at the road I indicated. “Are you sure?” he said, as I climbed out of his car. “Get back in and I’ll run you down there.” I grabbed my kit bag from his rear seat and thanked him for the lift. I told myself not to engage in any more chit chat with him, instead I took out a little diary and pen and wrote down the make of car, the colour and the registration number. I was quite angry so threw my kit bag up onto my shoulders and marched off toward Shawbury.
I did mention before that stewards are regarded as the trade group with the lowest average intelligence in the air force. I was about to discover a lower group of people who were not really in the air force. The Ministry of Defence Police. I arrived at the guard room at Shawbury and went to report in. The fellow behind the desk was dressed as a civilian copper, but something just didn’t fit right. The uniform was too shabby, he was too portly and the grey hair, suggested that he might not be up to chasing many criminals down dark alleys.
Having ‘arrived’ I explained that I wanted to report a predatory pervert. I produced my little slip of paper and set it before the copper. Did I want to make a complaint, press charges? “No,” I said. My concern was that a seventeen year old lad fresh from basic training might be approached by this pervert and we should take action to prevent him from approaching any person in the future. “And how will we do that sonny?” “Well; by going around to his house and warning him off!” I said. It would appear that the copper had no understanding of perverts and the long term lasting effects they could have on their victims. As with most useless feckers he announced that there was nothing he could do.
I sloped off to my accommodation and a bar where I could pour some beer over my raging temper to cool it down. I can only remember two things about the course at Shawbury. Well three actually. I wanted to find the squadron leader, him with the missing arm and eye patch, to inform him that the punishment posting he had sent me on to Valley was in fact a brilliant posting, apart from the failed fast jet pilots. I don’t know if he was still at Shawbury or not, but I never came across him again.
A meteorologist came in to give us a lecture. There was about twelve of us on the course. He had just returned from Northern Ireland and was wondering if he should have been entitled to a medal as military personnel would have been given a medal for serving there. I wondered why they didn’t give the normal people of Northern Ireland a medal for having to live in the middle of all the crap that was going on. He then, for a laugh, produced a tape recorder and played a real bomb warning that the met office he had worked at in Northern Ireland had received.
It sounded fake to me. He thought this was so funny, I however had just heard a bomb warning and that was enough of an excuse for me to leave the classroom. I could hear the remainder of the course laughing and explain to the met man that I was Irish. I decided that it might be nice to revisit old haunts and spend the afternoon in the local civilian pub. And it was a very pleasant afternoon.
The only other thing I remember about Shawbury was that we piled out of the classroom one lunchtime and began making our way to the mess for some scoff. The mess was quite close, no more than fifty yards away, so some of us couldn’t be arsed putting our berets on. New chaps wore their berets with pride, hairy arses polished their shoes with them, and rather than wear them on your head, usually had them stuffed in a back pocket. Three or four of us sported our berets as such, while the other guys would have their peaked caps on.
The classroom was on one side of the parade square, the mess behind that. On the far side of the parade square, away from us, was the SWO. He noticed us shambling along and in a shrill voice shouted, while pointing at us with his pace stick “Airman!!” For a millisecond we all stood still, till some Irish nutter among us pointed at the SWO and shouted “SWO!!” After which we all belted towards the mess and mingled with the other guys who were enjoying their lunch. The SWO came in puffing and panting. He was fuming and looked as if he would have chewed somebodies leg off. He paced about a bit and then left. We all breathed sigh of relief and made sure we were properly dressed when we left the mess, for although he thought we couldn’t see him, the SWO was hiding close by, waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting airmen or woman who were going to get a beasting they would never forget.