Celtic Illumination, part 230, Tequila Mockingbird.
Some of the more ‘aloof’ members of the Illuminati have been contacting me wondering how on earth one can convert time invested in committee work into smartie points for promotion. Well; read on dear heart and I shall lay bare the duplicity and skulduggery required for success. These methods will still be valid today and could most probably be translated into civilianese. Remember what the Warrant Officer from Shawbury said to me when I asked him how I could get promoted. He asked me to try and imagine my boss preparing the annual assessments. In his head he would line us all up and then compare one against the other. What I had to do was, when he was looking at us all in the line, was to be the one jumping up and down the most. With legs like mine, I ask you!
Don’t think that just by volunteering to be on any committee is enough, once there, you have to perform. I have come across many who had joined committees to get their promotion smartie points and found themselves completely out of their depths. It helps if you are competent and boy was I. In fact I didn’t really like myself for I had no time for committees, and any time I found myself chairing any committee meeting it was a nightmare having to listen to other people’s ideas and suggestions. I mean now and again someone would dream up a gem of an idea but it wasn’t that often. Whatever you were involved in had to work, in fact it had to succeed.
More importantly you had to make sure that people knew about your success. This was not so much ‘blowing your own trumpet’ but just making sure that your name was put before the correct people time and time again, so any occasion that they thought of you, you were jumping up and down. Every committee meeting had to produce detailed minutes of the meeting and this is where you could really score smartie points. First of all you had to volunteer to record and produce the minutes. Remember, as a famous Irishman with lovely legs once said, “It’s not who makes history that succeeds but who writes history.” This had to be done efficiently and in double quick time. You couldn’t steal anyone else’s idea, but you could make it appear that you were one of the more important cogs. So every topic or motion had to have a proposer and a seconder and nominated people would be responsible for seeing certain actions through.
Take for example the local civilian drama group. There is no direct link between that and Wattisham, so I have to create one. The drama group met in a local person’s house once a week and read through lines. So when the Families Club committee meet I propose that in order to strengthen bonds between our little community and the civilian community we allow the drama group to use the club to rehearse their next production, it has to go in the minutes. Now, no one in the drama group has asked for such a thing, but when I suggest that perhaps there could be an insurance issue or a security issue perhaps this proposal should go to the Station Commander. Of course everyone thinks that this is a great idea. So do I, for every month the station commander was being told what a great guy I was and how involved I was in the local community. In fact, on paper, I was real asset in promoting the good name and nature of the air force.
I was now involved in the local amateur dramatic group. I thought I could help sweeping up, or opening and closing the stage curtains, however being the sort of fellow that I am, I found myself centre stage so to speak and it didn’t matter how I felt about it, I was going to have to go through with it and probably have the chairman of the local amateur dramatic committee invite the station commander to their next performance as a thank you for allowing them to use the Families Club, which they had never got around to but it’s the thought that counts. And the Station Commander would probably be too busy to attend but at least he would know who their star performer was. So I hope you can see that you just didn’t join committees and get promoted, there was a certain amount of deception and shenanigans involved and let’s not forget a lot of hard work too.
And I suppose you think that it stops there, well; no it doesn’t. For what you now need is for your boss and the Station Commander to come visit, you need them to pop along and see what you are doing, let them hear from everyone else just how good you really are. In the forces we called this a ‘Bring your boss night.’ As well as making sure your name featured with the correct projects you could make sure that you name didn’t appear for certain things, like suggesting there should be a bring your boss event. Don’t want to appear pushy, now do we? And of course the ‘bring your boss’ concept was a little loose. Most of us would have three, what I suppose we call today line managers. There would be your immediate boss, then your section boss and then your squadron boss.
I invited my immediate boss and my squadron boss. My section boss was the SATCO and he was a total arse so if someone else wanted to invite him they could. The evening would be split in to two sections. First section would be the meet and greet and pleasant and polite conversation. About nine o clock in the evening the senior guys would leave and we would then launch in to an evening of madness. I had enough experience of these types of evenings to know that it was pretty easy to allow yourself to be carried along and end up in a gutter somewhere, for this evening I decided to be in control. I made sure that an American service man John Lanzafame was on the bar.
Everyone arrived and we stood around chatting and pointing out what we had done to the building and of course made sure that the Station Commander and O C Operations knew who the driving force was behind the Familes Club. We then waved them away and settled in to the more down to earth section of the evening. What my poor immediate boss didn’t know is that I had planned to get him off his trolley. He though he was simply standing at the bar with me, a pleasant Irish fellow with the nicest legs in Ireland and Vic Storey, the chief cook and bottle washer from Wattisham. One of the reasons we had invited everyone down was that we had rebuilt the bar and extended the lounge, we had to show all this off.
The bar looked quite nice, quite professional actually, all the bottles lined up and glasses laid out. On the word of command Vic, totally out of the blue, as we had planned, asks my boss if he has ever tasted a certain blend of tequila. Of course he hasn’t, because it was something special that John Lanzafame bought on the American air base. Vic was a wonderful story teller and makes it appear that this tequila is one of the best brands in the world. My boss is now a little drunk and I suggest that he should buy a round of drinks. I bet you’ll never guess what he bought. Correct, three tequilas. Well Vic was now becoming his best friend ever, along with me. There was a mass of whiskey glasses laid out, upside down, which were being used to serve drinks. John Lanzafame had to turn his back to us, open the tequila bottle and pour the three drinks. What my boss couldn’t see is that John only poured one drink.
The rear row of glasses were sitting the correct way up and each contained a shot of tap water. Vic and I were drinking water while my poor boss was hoofing down tequila. Of course we thank him for being so gracious for buying us such a fantastic drink, but now it was our turn to buy him a drink and the game continued. It wasn’t long before his legs stopped working and he started to do the old fall down dance that is so popular amongst drunks. We were only having a bit of fun and didn’t want to harm, or kill him, so we poured him in to a mini bus and told the driver to take him home. He lived somewhere on the outskirts of Ipswich so it would only take about twenty minutes to get him home.
So at the end of the evening I felt that I had accomplished something. All those who needed to know, had been told how good I was. My immediate boss wasn’t going to remember much about the evening so could only assume that he had had a good night and boy when he came to write my assessments would I be jumping up and down. We tidied up a bit and then all relaxed and sat back to enjoy a beer when the minibus driver came in looking very unhappy indeed. He was sporting a bit of a bruised eye and began shouting at me for having such fantastic ideas. Seems that the driver forgot the address that he was to take my immediate boss to and had stopped outside Ipswich train station, where there was plenty of light. He had started to go through my bosses pockets hoping to find an address when my boss regained consciousness, thought he was being robbed, so fought back. I thought it might have been the only glitch in my perfect evening however I was soon to discover that my boss couldn’t remember a thing about his journey home. It all sounded good to me as I told him what a great night he had had and we should do it again sometime. All I would have to do now was sit back and wait to get promoted.