Celtic Illumination, part 245, The first rule of fight club.
It is quite obvious now to look back and understand that some invisible power was drawing me back to Ireland. Little did I know about the real reason this was happening and I’m sure on reading this the double top secret cabal, who organised my whole life, will be pleased to know that their training had been so effective. I contacted Tim Hirschman and explained that I had made my decision; I was leaving the air force and coming to work for him, in Ireland. Tony was happy to hear my news and suggested that I try to get a little sales experience before joining him which would hold me in good stead. As an experiment I had a CV made for me and I put myself on the job market. I say experiment, as I was still very much in the air force and wasn’t really in any position to take up a new job.
My priority was to get back to Ireland, nothing else mattered. It wasn’t family that drew me; it was Ireland, the place. So as you can imagine I was going to put every effort possible into my return. Over the following ten or twelve day’s approximately twenty five job offers came in. It certainly made me feel good, but what I would have to do was carefully pick my way through them and see which would fit in with my requirements best. I would only be able to work part time; I could tell any prospective employer that. I didn’t think it would be appropriate to tell them that I would be leaving them as soon as I possibly could. Just for the craic I began visiting these companies to find out what was on offer.
Truthfully they were all much of a muchness. I do remember when one small company interviewed me then took me to lunch, and then back at the office wouldn’t let me leave unless I signed a contract to work for them. Luckily I was able to convince them that as I was still in the air force I couldn’t sign a contract. The company I settled for was Abbey Life in Ipswich. It sold insurance and mortgages, pensions and the like. I was to be interviewed by the branch manager and when I arrived the area manager had popped in, so he sat in on the interview. Afterwards the area manager thought I was a plant because I appeared to be the perfect candidate, he thought the branch manager had played a joke on him. Now this was a bit of a tricky situation because I would not be allowed to earn money selling insurance while I was still in the air force.
Jack, the branch manager assured me that this was no problem. I could earn as much as I wanted but they wouldn’t actually pay me. Any money I earned would be saved for me and on leaving the air force, would be paid to me. It looked as if I had found the perfect set up to give me some sales experience and get some training, so I accepted and waited to be told when to go on their basic training course. I was sent off to complete a week long basic training course in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. I arrived at the training offices and reported in. There were quite a number of people on the course, maybe twenty or so. We went through the usual reception process and then were ushered in to a classroom where we all had to stand up and speak for five minutes about ourselves.
I know, five minutes, it takes me that long to tell someone my name. At the end of the day we were taken to our hotel. We were staying in a Van De Beer Hotel, which had a reputation for being quite plush. I reported to the hotel reception and was shown to a room. There were two beds in the room so I naturally assumed that someone else would be sharing the room with me because I had read through some of the hotel literature and when I saw how much bed and breakfast was at the hotel, knew no one would be wasteful enough to put one person in such a room.
I planted my bag on one bed, claiming it, and waited for someone else to arrive. They never did and I was quite surprised at such extravagance. The hotel was big and comfortable, in a heavy sort of way, but I wouldn’t have called it posh. Then came a knock at the door. I did think it would be the other person I was sharing with but it turned out to be the fellow from the adjoining room, he too was on the course. He introduced himself, Graham Duffield. Graham was loud and spoke with Received Pronunciation, which for those of you who don’t know, means posh. And I suppose Graham didn’t speak, he barked and bellowed at people. He invited me into his room.
As I entered his room Graham began to educate me. “You can never say a suitcase is packed unless there is a bottle of whisky in it,” announced Graham. There was only one glass in Graham’s room, the toothbrush glass, there were some cups, but I was dispatched to my room to collect my glass, after all, I mean, drink whiskey from a cup, I’m not a heathen. We sat and sipped away at Graham’s bottle of whisky. He had picked up on the fact that I was forces and as he was ex-army he knew we would get along. “By the way,” announced Graham, “I’m an ex SAS Major, but don’t tell anyone.” Unfortunately my bullshit detector had been activated, so from that moment on, anything that Graham said was filed under bullshit.
It’s like fight club, remember, the first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about fight club. Well; the basic understanding throughout the forces is that anyone who is a member of the SAS never says they are or were. If anyone said they were in the SAS you knew that there was a good chance they were being untruthful. Despite this we had a laugh; I think the military humour and the whisky contributed to that. We were having such a laugh that we realised we had almost missed the evening meal so went downstairs for some feed. I couldn’t believe the way Graham spoke to people; he really did think he was the cat’s whiskers. I’ve heard some chat up lines and some compliments in my time but I don’t think the waitress had ever been referred to as a ‘dirty little scrubber’ before and I don’t think she knew how to take it.
Of course with the feeding out of the way, the drinking could now take place. The bar was quite busy so we positioned ourselves at the bar and draped ourselves around two beers. Another fellow joined us, again, like Graham had done he had picked up on the military issue and announced that he was an ex South African army policeman type. We were having a great old laugh when someone came to us who again had picked up on the military thing. Someone was harassing the male members of the course in the toilets. It was a homosexual, would we, go and have words, sort it out, people were being made to feel uncomfortable. Graham of course being the officer, leader and general all around hero, took charge and marched all three of us off to the toilets.
‘I’ll stand guard out here,’ said Graham. ‘You two go in and sort him out.’ Graham had now proved to me that he probably had been an officer, no back bone whatsoever and the booming voice was all cover, pretence and bluster. The South African pongo and myself entered the toilets and were faced with a fellow dressed as a vicar. Now I know if you meet someone dressed as a vicar you would normally say ‘we met a vicar.’ Well; this fellow was dressed as a vicar, black shirt, black suit and white dog collar, but he was standing at a mirror applying mascara. From his body language I could tell that the South African pongo was about to hit the vicar, so I stepped in between them. I felt what we had been asked to do was quite barbaric, so I explained that certain people had claimed that he had made them feel uncomfortable. The vicar looked quite shaken as he too could see the threat that was quite obviously bubbling within the South African.
We left and I took the pair of them, Graham and the South African, away from the scene, in fact we left the hotel and headed off to a casino for a bit of a laugh and a gamble, which of course I never got involved with. Graham, believe it or not, was an expert gambler; although that night for some reason he didn’t break the bank, but assured us that had he been on form, he would have cleaned them out. And that’s when karma came back into play for as we began to wander back to our hotel, the South African decided that he would show us some of the skill’s he had learned as a police man in the South African army and placing himself in the centre of the road, at a busy traffic junction, began to direct traffic. It wasn’t only the passing drivers who didn’t appreciate this fellow’s skill but the local police didn’t take to kindly to it either, as they arrested him and took him away to the cells for the night.