Celtic Illumination, part 190, Anything for the weekend sir?
So, picture the scene. It’s midnight, John Zammo and I are in bed. Stop it. It was a four man room with four beds. John was in one bed and I was in another bed, a different bed, the one opposite him. Anyway, we could hear a ruckus outside on the balcony which rumbled along and then came in to our room. A group of the lads poured in most of them, well; all of them drunk. They were carrying another drunk who was close to passing out. They threw him on one of the spare beds and told us that it was a one hundred squadron sergeant. One hundred squadron were the Canberra guys who dragged the target around for us to shoot at.
It was like having a new born baby in the room. John and I lay there listening for the fellow breathing. However, unlike a new born baby, this fellow got up and peed in the locker beside the bed they had put him in and then lay back down again. This was of course totally unacceptable; I mean he wasn’t even on our squadron. John and myself then decided to get a little pay back. We shaved his eyebrows off. Not satisfied, we lifted the mattress off the bed, with him still on it and dragged it out onto the balcony. It was as we were wondering how to get the mattress into a nearby tree that one of the group who had dumped this fellow in our room came along.
It was Jimmy Orr. Jimmy asked what we were doing and when we explained that we wanted to put the mattress complete with recumbent drunk into a tree he suggested that this might not be a very good idea. The sergeant had been on one hundred squadron but with immediate effect he was now on our squadron and might take an unfavourable view of any persons hoisting him into a tree rather than looking after him. They already had looked after a fellow squadron member by ensuring he had a safe place to sleep rather than have him wander off into the bondoo. We took the mattress back in and placed it on the bed hoping the sergeant wouldn’t be too hard on us.
Luckily he didn’t notice and on waking went off to his own accommodation. John and I always denied shaving the eyebrows off and thankfully Jimmy Orr never mentioned the fact that he had discovered us trying to get the guy into a tree. Jimmy was one of a small group on the squadron who needed locking up. Sure, John Roe and Dave Magee were the worst offenders but there were a couple of others who were just as bad. One evening we were outside the mess probably having a beer when Jimmy had a great idea. There was a small gift shop where we would buy cigarettes. The cigarettes were rationed and the Cypriots seemed to enjoy controlling our purchases. Jimmy went over and began to look at a child’s bicycle.
He began to communicate with the guy behind the counter, a Cypriot called Chris, well; probably called Chris. Jimmy was talking loud enough so that we could all hear him. He was going through the motions asking how much for the bike, how fast would it go, were there any other colours, did it have a warranty? By this time Jimmy has taken the bike to the counter, which is next to the main door. Chris was wanting to know if he was going to buy it when Jimmy says he must have a test drive and leaves the shop with the bike. By the time Chris has come out from behind the counter and out of the shop Jimmy is now riding the bicycle on his test drive.
We of course are falling about laughing. If Jimmy had rode in little circles in front of us it might have been funny but Jimmy was on the roof of the building riding along the red sloping tiles. Anyone who has ridden a bike before knows that a level flat surface is normally the best and safest place for cycling. Jimmy may have had one too many drinks for he was quite careless with his manoeuvring and signalling. It was quite obvious that he had forgotten everything from his cycling proficiency test, if he had ever done one, because rather than stop, look and listen, he shot straight off the roof into a clump of bushes.
Being quite drunk Jimmy had achieved rubber bone status and was unharmed the same unfortunately could not be said for the bike which Jimmy returned to Chris who was stunned. Not perhaps at seeing Jimmy fly off the roof like something from E.T but because Jimmy told him he wasn’t going to buy it as it wasn’t fast enough. I don’t know how that got sorted out, if it ever did. There were a couple of things we would buy when in Cyprus. There were tailors on the unit who would knock you up a pretty decent suit for fifteen quid. John got a suit made as he was getting married when we returned. Apart from the brandy which we smuggled back by the gallon, people tended to go after hanging carpets, leather pouffes or sheep skin rugs.
I wandered in to the mess one afternoon having finished work. I was at a loose end. The only other person there was John Roe. He was playing pin ball and asked me what I was up to. I explained that I wasn’t actually doing anything. John told me that he was about to go in to Limassol to buy some sheep skin rugs and if I was interested he would take me with him and show me the best shop in Limassol for these items. We went off and caught a bus into Limassol. John led me along various back streets to a small shop that was overflowing with rugs and carpets and pouffes.
I didnt buy anything but John bought two huge sheep skin rugs and we made our way back to the main drag. We sat outside one of the hotels having coffee and then wandered off to get a bus back to camp. As the bus pulled away John began punching me and I wondered what was wrong but followed him as he was shouting that he had left his sheep skin rugs at the fecking hotel. We raced back to the hotel and were pleasantly surprised to see the rugs lying beside the table we had been sitting at. The bus was the last bus of the day to camp so we would now have to get a taxi back. John announced that as we were getting a taxi back it didn’t matter what time we left at. I agreed.
John declared that we should celebrate the recovery of his rugs. I added that a celebration was most defiantly in order as it was my birthday. I suppose I wish I had never said anything. We were sitting outside quite a plush hotel and I assumed that we would remain there and celebrate. John had a different idea. He explained that in order to celebrate properly we would have to go to the worst brothel in Limassol. As I have said before it was quite common for us in Germany to nip into various brothels for a beer but I had never even thought about brothels in Cyprus. I followed along wondering how John knew about this place.
That evening I needed as much brandy as I could get, not to drink but to sterilise myself after what John had put me through. It was the most disgusting place I have even seen in my life. Unlike Germany where the brothels were quite welcoming and comfortable this place was perfunctory. I sat outside while John did what he had to do inside. I still feel unclean just thinking about the place and all I did was sit there and grimace at the running commentary John provided me with throughout the encounter. In fact the Cypriots didn’t have a very good reputation for hygiene, in any shape or form. Roger Greenwood, one of our navigators, was telling me that he had been posted to Cyprus and had shipped his car out. The day his car arrived he went to the docks to collect it and was told that he couldn’t take the car until it had been officially fumigated. As far as Roger was concerned it was just another hoop he would have to jump through. He was quite surprised when the fellow fumigating the car dropped a bucket, on the end of a rope, into the sea and pulled up a bucket of sea water. He then threw the bucket of water over the car, held his hand out and said, “Ten pounds please for the fumigation.” I always wondered if John Roe ever needed fumigating.