Celtic Illumination, part 160, A champion of freedom and justice.
As dear old John Denver once said, or sang, ♫ Yes ’n’ hey, it’s good to be back home again ♫. Thank you for all your comments and questions, which I hope I have answered to your satisfaction, and I thought I was going to be the one asking the questions. My turn now, would you all please turn towards Southport, in England, and wave hello to a new member of the Illuminati, Angela Bayliff. Seems that Angela stumbled across the blog, read one or two parts, went right back to the beginning and has ploughed her way through the lot. Well done Angela, no mean feat, as I am sure many of you will agree. So, as Mick Jagger once said, ♫ Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here? ♫
Well, right back to Germany I suppose. The squadron had returned from Cyprus, dried out a bit and was beginning to take over its normal role again. Our sister squadron, 19 Squadron, the Cod Squad, would have provided the air defence cover in our absence. They would now head off to Cyprus for their APC and we would provide the air defence cover. Many of the troops were married and having been away from their families, for up to six weeks, would be taking leave and having a bit of time to themselves. So work wise it was all a bit hectic however, it had all been done before so we just got on with it.
I was notified that I had been allocated a married quarter, a two bedroomed flat, in a local village called Erkelenz. This was quite exciting, as you may imagine. I applied for some leave so that I could return to Liverpool, pick up Irene, and arrive back in Germany to our new home. All I needed was a car. One of the perks of being stationed abroad was being tax free. Petrol was rationed, but not in a restrictive way, we bought, tax free, fuel coupons on camp which we would exchange for fuel outside in the real world. We enjoyed tax free cigarettes and booze, especially the booze.
We also enjoyed tax free motor cars. Most people would have bought a brand new motor car and there would always be a deep discussion about the best vehicle, or method of purchase, that would maximise savings. I couldn’t get my head around it. How would saving money on something I had never intended to buy, going to benefit me? On the squadron dispersal car park would be a range of new motor cars, many would be standard motor cars but the odd individual would opt for something special. One Squadron Leader had an old E Type Jaguar and that appealed to me, but it wasn’t for sale.
One guy actually bought a brand new Porsche and there was always a great discussion as to how he would fit his wife and four children in. I couldn’t afford a new Jaguar, there didn’t seem to be a huge second hand Jaguar market in Germany so I bought the next best thing I could find. I bought a ten year old, bright yellow, left hand drive, Volkswagen Beetle. It was ridiculously cheap, somewhere around two or three hundred pounds. But it was fantastic; it was a fun car, started first time every time and would always stand out in a car park. It also made driving in Germany much easier.
The days were ticking away and I was looking forward to getting back to England and collecting Irene. I suppose in a way it would be a mini adventure driving from Germany to Liverpool, but then wasn’t life just one big adventure. I was settling into work and getting more competent in my role. It was great to have left the world of air traffic control, and all the failed fast jet pilots, behind me but other worlds didn’t want to leave me alone. One misty night as I was out and about on the squadron a man approached me and propositioned me. No, he wasn’t a prevert, he asked me for a fight. No, it wasn’t Chris Baily again, but one of the engineers who was connected to my martial arts instructor back at Locking.
After a few enquiries I discovered that this guy was one of the top ranking Taekwondo masters in the military. I hadn’t bothered with it during my time at Watton but I did feel that the physical contact I encountered, and enjoyed, in rugby might have improved my skills. It would be quite a privileged position for me to be taught by such a guy and as a fellow squadron member I knew I could trust him. There is a coloured belt system used to grade people as they progress through their Taekwondo training.
In the old days everyone began with a white belt. The rule was that the belt should never be washed so that after enough experience, the belt would be black with dirt. These days you have junior ranks, which use the coloured belt system and the senior ranks that use the black belt system. If I remember correctly there are ten ranks in the junior level and ten in the senior level although the highest degree or ‘dan’ in the black belt system is never awarded to a living person.
My fellow was quite a senior black belt while I was still hanging on in the junior department. It wasn’t compulsory so I decided to take him up on his offer. I could always leave if I wasn’t enjoying it. With working shifts and other commitments the first available opportunity we could have to practice would be the evening before I left for England. I was quite looking forward to a good work out. I had cleared my single accommodation and packed the car, when I returned I would be moving into our little flat so I was in quite a good mood.
I arrived at the station Gymnasium in time and had my whole evening planned out. After training I would enjoy a long shower, scrub myself silly, and then a nice relaxing drive to Zeebrugge and the ferry. We got changed and took to the floor. As you all know, every moment of my life has been planned out for me and every activity has a specific reason. Even this training session had a very specific reason for occurring and for this event that would be trust.
The fellow had actually asked me for a fight, he had not invited me for a training session. I would say that within three minutes, four at the most. I was on the floor of the gymnasium and would not be getting up again. There hadn’t been much physical effort, not on my part anyway, so I didn’t need to have a shower, just to get my clothes on and take myself over to the medical centre. In a way, you can see why everything had been planned out for me. Why buy a left hand drive car? It’s easier to drive with broken fingers on your left hand, you change gear with your right.
The double secret cabal really did know how to plan ahead. The medics fixed me up. Two broken fingers on my left hand, four badly bruised, possibly cracked, ribs on my left hand side and a black and bruised right eye that was promising to make the colour purple jealous. I didn’t really enjoy the drive back to Liverpool and I have to say I wasn’t really looking forward to getting back on the squadron as I would be bumping into this fellow every day. But as I said not only did the double top secret cabal organise dangerous events for me to experience, they also protected me. When I did return to the squadron I discovered that this fellow had been using his wife as a punch bag, he was a complete cycle path and had beaten up a couple of other fellows. He wasn’t the sort of chap the air force tolerated and so had gone. Where? I don’t know and to tell you the truth I didn’t really care, he was most definitely off my Christmas card list.