Celtic Illumination, part 128, Knife, fork and spoons.
If I was to say that a man approached me and offered me money, I wonder how many of you would think that it would probably be another prevert and I wonder how many of you might think that it was someone wanting a fight? Well; if either of those two ideas popped into your mind, it shows that you have read and paid attention to this blog, well done, you will go far. If both ideas popped into your mind you have some serious problems and should seek expert medical advice.
Well; a man did approach me and offer me money. In fact he offered me fifty British English pounds sterling, for my car. As I had only paid fifty pounds for the car, from Paddy O Reardon, I accepted his offer and with a sad heart, said farewell to my trusty steed. The fellow was John Parsons and he was posted the following week so I didn’t have to live in fear wondering how long the car would actually last. John Parsons was the entertainments officer for the Lodge and I realised that there would be a vacancy opening up with his leaving that might play in my favour.
I was still under observation for aircrew so committees and sports would play an important part in my success or failure. I managed, with John’s help, to become entertainment officer for the Lodge and knew I would do a superb job. There was a promotions agent who would call around every month and make recommendations to me. My first big booking was an American swing band. Very similar to the dance bands we had in Ireland.
The evening they were booked to appear I remember standing at the bar with the band leader. There were more members in the band than patrons. I told him not to worry and to start the show. They were fantastic and even though I sent runners out to married quarters to try and get people to come, at the end of the evening the numbers were about evenly matched. They were a fantastic group and I wished I could have simply sat there in a big soft armchair and listened to them. I lost a couple of quid that night but learned a lot; English people have no taste when it comes to music, otherwise there would have been a full house. You will agree it is the most logical explanation for the poor turnout. If there any complaints I would tell them to entertain themselves.
I was going to say that entertaining ourselves was something we were very good at however I think one or two characters would stand out if I began to recount some of the ways we would entertain ourselves. The common denominator for all social occasions would have been the demon drink. There would have been three main circles of entertainment, one would have been the Lodge, the other would have been the rugby club and the third would have been Nobbies international luxury resort and spa.
Nobbies was a small country pub on the far side of the, disused, Watton airfield in the village of Griston. Normally the chaps would call the duty driver and get the land rover to come out and run them back and forth to Nobbies. Nobbies would appear to have been caught in a time warp. Poor lighting, poor decoration, not enough beer glasses and a landlord who liked a feed of drink more than we did. The ceilings were quite low too, which didn’t help.
With the beer flowing and most of the guys being rugby club members the singing would start. Some over exuberant chaps would punch the air and with the low ceiling, miss, and leave a huge hole in the plasterboard. I’ve seen people being served a pint of beer in a milk bottle, don’t worry, it had been rinsed out, but by far the most wondrous memory was when a certain chap tried to get a double top on the dart board, with a shotgun.
These were the days when drink driving was frowned on but everyone did it, you normally only got caught after you put your car into a ditch, or into a wall that didn’t get out of the way fast enough. One day three of us were having a session on the roof of the Lodge when we decided to go to a local pub known as the Chequers. There was Simon Collins, Rhod Cunningham and myself. As we aimed toward the Chequers, Rhod decided that he should have been a stunt man. He decided to climb out of the, driver’s side, back window of the car. He pull himself across the roof and got back into the car through the rear passenger side window.
Thankfully it never caught on but other rugby flavoured games did. These were very much encouraged by the master of all rugby ceremonies Tim Lort. The first ‘game’ was called ‘trays’. I think, I can’t be sure, but I do think that the origins of this game came from the game ‘spoons’. ‘Spoons’ is where two people agree to fight each other using only a desert spoon held in the mouth. Hands must be held behind the back. The two combatants would sit facing each other and take it in turns to slap each other on the head with their spoon.
You may think this ridiculous but I have seen teeth fly out during this game. Of course it would be a set up and with the new person or the persons who didn’t know the game, when he lowered his head to accept his opponents blow, he wouldn’t be aware that his opponents second would whack him across the head with a soup ladle. The only person not aware of what is happening is of course the poor eejit being walloped with the soup ladle who if stupid enough will become even more determined to retaliate and this is where the teeth would fly out.
‘Trays’ was quite similar expect there were no seconds or uninitiated. You would get a metal beer tray, a square one would be preferable but a round one could be used. The two combatants would face each other and take it in turn to smash the tray over the opponents head. Now when I say smash I don’t mean a glancing blow or a tap on the head, you had to attempt to make your opponent wear the metal beer tray like a hat. You would attempt, in one movement, to wrap the tray around your opponents head. And people would line up to play this game. Some people had a natural advantage over others as they were six foot six tall, but we will not mention names, will we Tim?
Another one of Tim’s games was slaps. Again two opponents facing each other while the gathered throng would chant a rugby club song. The object of the game was to get your opponent to withdraw. You took it in turns to slap your opponent across the face but you had to keep your elbows jammed against your body, we weren’t animals. The strikes would be permitted during the chorus of the song and players would take it in turn to hit each other. Considering the trays, the slaps and the beers it’s no wonder many of us would have sore heads the following morning.