Celtic Illumination, part 130, On yer bike!
A Warrant Officer arrived from Shawbury. We were told that he would talk to any of us that were interested and give us career advice. All Warrant Officers were highly respected, so this was one person that I knew would tell me the truth and give me his honest answer, and opinion, to any career question I would ask. I managed to get to speak with him and explained my predicament. What he said was along the lines of; imagine that you are at Innsworth. No problem, as I had already spent some time there. Imagine that you are the person who has to select a number of people for promotion.
In the forces we were assessed annually and at that assessment were given a numerical grading, the lowest was one and the highest nine. Nine was also known as a spec rec, a special recommendation. He explained that the person making the decision may have a number of people, all of whom would have the same numerical standing, from which he would have to choose perhaps only one or two. Now he asked me to imagine all those people lined up and the selector looking at them. You have to get yourself noticed he said. If everyone in the line is stationary, no one gets your full attention. But if one’s jumping up and down, that person gets all the attention. If two people are jumping up and down, then the one who jumps up and down the highest will win.
If someone had explained life, or the world of work to me, in such terms at Violent Hell I would probably be King of the World by now. But I was a simple Pheasant Plucker at Watton and all I wanted to do was get back to sergeant aircrew. I knew I had done everything asked of me; I was serving on various committees and playing sports. I just wasn’t playing rugby I was also a member of the Watton station tennis team. Well; to tell the truth I was half of the station tennis team, there was just one other tennis player, a failed fast jet pilot, but we did occasionally get some time away from work, and as you may expect my legs were the talk of the county.
I realised that I would have to start jumping higher than all the others, so an idea hit me at a committee meeting. I suggested that we organise and complete a nonstop cycle relay. As we were eastern radar, I suggested that we tow a six foot long cigarette, behind a bicycle, from the most easterly point of the UK to the most westerly, in aid of cancer research. Now before you all start writing to the pope and suggest that I might be an ideal candidate for beatification let me explain. I had no interest in cancer research; I didn’t really know anything about it.
Charity events, to me, meant time off work, nothing else. I have always had a healthy distain for charities. As a school boy in Belfast I remember that in each classroom, we would have a sort of plastic strap that hung from the backboard, which was split into little individual pockets. Each pocket held one old penny and when all the pockets were full, the strap was taken away and the money went to help the poor children in Africa. I knew about poverty because I would often see boys arrive at school wearing my old clothes. The situation was explained to me and I soon started to see the real world around me. I had a sumptuous bedroom with a huge double bed and a fire to keep me warm at nights. There was even a cleaning lady to look after me when my mother was busy reading magazines. I now saw houses where five children slept in one bed.
The poverty in Belfast was something that caught my attention and therefore alerted me to connected news items throughout my life. Just yesterday it was announced that the head of the British Red Cross earns one hundred and eighty thousand pounds a year and that there are another four executives at the British Red Cross who earn six figure salaries. Most of these highly paid executives are cretins, chinless wonders who get their jobs because of who they know and what school they went to. It is such a shame that the hard work and efforts of so many thousands of caring, motivated, people are manipulated in such a cavalier and Machiavellian way. Just another strand of pure evil from the British class system.
So my first job when I take back the throne of Ireland will be to sort out the Irish problem. Forgive me, but as this problem has been going on for quite some time it might take me a week or two to sort it out, but after that I promise I shall turn my attention to the third world situation and sort that out and I will not have any publicity seeking pop stars lining up for a photo opportunity.
By the end of our little committee meeting it had been decided that we should attempt a nonstop cycle relay from John O’ Groats, the most northerly point in the UK, to Land’s End, the most southerly point. The route would be approximately eight hundred and seventy miles. We would get someone to donate two bicycles; the air force would provide transport, fuel and food. We would supply the muscle and we could all have ten days off work.
I set about organising the event and have to admit that I did a pretty decent job. We were so lucky to have the disused airfield at Watton which was perfect for training and practise. I now approached each Air Training Corps region, the Air Training Corps are a youth training scheme sponsored by the air force, and had them collect money on our behalf, in their area, and arranged for them to provide support as we transited their area. It was quite a huge undertaking but my only interest was to get smartie points in my bid for sergeant aircrew and skive some time off work.
I can’t remember exactly how long the team took to cover the route but it was a healthy time and one to be proud of. Back at Watton the local press were called and I wondered why the Wing Commander was the one who was getting his photograph taken. Then, when all the money was in and the bikes had been auctioned, we were to go to the Norwich hospital and hand over the cheque. One again the Wing Commander, a failed fast jet pilot, handed over the cheque and I was allowed to take photographs of him as he did so.
I wasn’t impressed and as a good ol boy I surely wanted to tell this fellow exactly what I thought of him, however I was smart enough to know that I had to keep my mouth shut. I knew that if everyone at Watton was in a line that, at that point, I was the one jumping up and down the most. Now was the time to push for my application for aircrew to go through. Nothing could stop me now.