Celtic Illumination, part 303, Jolly boating weather.
It was strange, but somewhat comforting, to wake up in familiar surroundings. I recognised the bed, the bedroom furniture, I didn’t know what I was doing there, but suspected it was something to do with the drink, and my pillows had been attacking my head again. I have to admit that it was quite obvious the mythical gorilla had paid me a visit; I could taste that he had peed in my mouth, thrown my clothes all over the room and taken most of my money. I hauled myself out of bed and approached the sink in a northerly direction. Despite the noise, I brushed my teeth and scraped my face knowing that I would have to get myself moving as I had a lot to do. We were only there for one week, so the first thing I had to do was get myself issued with a military driving license. The sergeants mess bar wasn’t open, so rather than a medicinal breakfast, I suffered some solid food and hoped the driving test would not include a breathalyser.
We had arrived the previous day, a Sunday, so the place was deserted. I had to present myself to the senior man in the sergeant’s mess and ask his permission for us to use the bar. It was part tradition and part good manners; after all it was their mess, their club. I made a point of not saying that I had any rank, as far as I was concerned I was a civilian, but the adult staff members with me were determined to show that they had a Warrant Officer in charge of their party. I was so embarrassed I volunteered to undertake the lights out inspection for the cadets. There was a couple of portacabins, set beside a large car park, where the air cadets would be based. There were two dormitories, one for the boys and one for the girls.
I came down to find a gang of cadets lounging around in the communal area so asked them to get to their respective dormitories and prepare for bed. I refused to go in to either of the dormitories but stood at the open main door. It’s the price you pay, for having intimate experience of a pervert priest, that you will stay well clear of half-dressed or even undressed children, even your own. In the boys dorm they were all quite excited and giggly, one or two made jokes about people playing with themselves. I hadn’t really thought about it, but suddenly understood that twenty minutes after I had left, boy and girl cadets would have crept away from their dorms and would be snogging the faces off each other. I mean they were teenagers, each with a full blown case of raging hormones, and they were away from home. I think most of the encounters would have been boy on girl action, which of course is the worst flavour altogether, as boy on boy, or girl on girl, will not produce tiny little baby cadets in nine months’ time, which although nothing to do with me, might, from the parents point of view, end up as my problem. As the minute hand nudged towards lights out, the comments became more ribald.
I switched out the lights and demanded silence. I then ordered them all, on the count of three, to start playing with themselves so that no one would feel out of place. There was an eruption of laughter and I wished them a good night. Of course as I stood at the door of the girl’s dorm, they now wanted to know what all the laughing was about, I was pleased that they couldn’t see me blush in the darkness. I then returned to the sergeant’s mess bar where my adult staff led me astray. I can remember only so much of the evening, at one point being introduced to the head of the RAF Police’s investigative branch, the SIB. Had I still been in the armed forces I wouldn’t even have looked at this person, never mind have a serious drinking session with him, but as I knew I had two cadets, who were interested in joining the military police, I had to befriend him and get my guys some experience in his section.
I did remember that he had agreed for my two cadets to spend some time with his section and I even got one lad, who wanted to be a dog handler with customs and excise, permission to work in the dog section with the sniffer dogs, so it was an encounter well worth the risk and the hangover. I arrived at the MT section, having promised myself to change my shoes to a more quieter pair, and found a WRAF Corporal on duty. There was an RAF officer standing at the desk talking with her, a Danish air force Major seated and myself standing in civilian clothes. You couldn’t help but overhear the conversation and I have to admit it was quite funny. The air force officer was demanding that he be issued with a military driving license. The WRAF Corporal stood her ground, and explained that she had no available personnel and no vehicles. He would have to come back the following week, would he like to make an appointment? He was furious and entered the, ‘Don’t you know who I am,’ attitude with appropriate amount of bluster and disbelief, shouting at the poor Corporal for all he was worth.
I say poor Corporal but from her demeanour you could tell that she was enjoying winding the fecker up. I must admit I would have done exactly the same if I had been in her shoes. But I did realise that I might have lost out, for if there were no test vehicles, or personnel, there would be no test and subsequently no license for me. The air force officer stormed off, grumbling to himself and the Danish Major stood and came to the desk. He spoke very good English, introduced himself and explained that he was reporting for his driving test. The WRAF Corporal checked her paperwork and explained that she would be giving him the test and they would proceed in a moment. She turned to me.
“I need a driving license, please, Corporal.” I explained. By the way any serving, or aspiring officers, in the air force take note, that’s how you ask, you use the persons rank, that they have worked for, showing them some respect and you say please. “Who are you?” she asked. I hated myself for doing it, but I said “I’m the Warrant Officer with the visiting air cadet squadron.” She thought for a moment. “Normally,” she said, addressing the Danish Major. “I would ask you to drive in to Edinburgh and then back again, which would constitute your driving test. Would you mind if I asked you to drive in to Edinburgh so that he,” here she was pointing at me. “He can drive us back and we can kill two birds with one stone.” “I have no objection,” said the Danish Major, who had suddenly seen his driving test cut in half. “Come on then,” she said, and we all skipped outside to a minibus.
The Danish Major was a very proficient driver and I enjoyed sitting in the back of the vehicle looking at the architecture of Edinburgh. She actually took us right in to the centre of Edinburgh, which was excellent as I do love the place. It was much better than the old days, when I had been allowed to sit in the rear of lorries keeping the luggage warm and protected from the rain. We changed over and I drove back, employing my urban driving skills as the traffic in central Edinburgh was mental. I heard that evening in the bar that the Danish Major thought it was my driving that was mental, as he had, like myself, told all his colleagues about the air force officer who had been turned away while the Warrant Officer had been accepted, but that’s how the air force works, and I’m sure it still does.
When we returned to the MT office the WRAF Corporal issued the both of us with our military driving licences. The squadron had been given the use of a minibus for the week so I signed for it, assuring the Corporal that I knew how to fill out the paper work and complete the daily inspections, which she, like me, knew would never be completed. The only think I would be checking on the minibus would be the amount of fuel left in the tank. I triumphantly drove back to the squadron, who were practising formation standing still, in lines of three. As the Squadron Warrant Officer I was expected to oversee all the marching, and standing still by numbers malarkey, but I announced that as I was the Warrant Officer, I knew all about it, the others, who didn’t know all about it, should perform these tasks and improve their knowledge base.
As well as the minibus we had been given something else. We had been given a liaison officer. You may think that this was very nice of the air force, in fact very generous of them, to give us an officer for the whole week who would liaise with us, or for us, I’m not sure how it works exactly. I don’t think he was sure why he was with us either for he was what we would call a baby officer, well; if we were being extremely polite we would call him a baby officer. A waste of space would be closer to what we would actually call him, minus the expletive. Imagine a young man, looking about nineteen years of age. He has an air of entitlement around him. He’s not cross eyed, but he is looking down his nose at everyone. It was obvious that he had been given to us because the real air force didn’t want him; even they thought he was useless. With a bit of digging you probably would have found that his father was an air commodore or the like. I was sitting with the Squadron Leader having a coffee, the liaison officer, a Pilot Officer, the lowest commissioned rank in the air force, came over and introduced himself. The Squadron Leader stood and shook hands with him, but I never moved. The Squadron Leader introduced me as the Squadron Warrant Officer. The Pilot Officer looked at me and then, purposefully and slowly, pulled his shirt cuffs down while stating, and explaining everything about him, his position and his future, in one short statement, by saying. “I went to Eaton you know. “