so you want to be a squaddie

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as a young man i wanted adventure

Submitted: November 11, 2017

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Submitted: November 11, 2017

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Walsall in the sixties was my only view of the world but I wanted more. Although a far better place than the current Walsall it was a backward in it`s "Things to do category". From an overcrowded four bedroomed house in the posh part of Blakenall: That`s what I told people, Sharing space with eight siblings and mom and dad was always going to be an uphill struggle. At seventeen I wanted to join the Army, REME, but I needed my dad to sign a release for me. He was adamant that they had kept me for seventeen years and now it was payback time. I could and did live with that notion but Army life had been glamourised by two of my best friends, John Foster, RAOC and Buster Marshall RA so I persisted In my quest to enlist. A year of constant barraging persuaded my dad to let me go only to shut me up. Dad`s short time in the conscripted forces had convinced him "You don`t want to that son."But this was 1966, the best army careers the best music, what was there to lose except my life, A relatively minor thing. Towards the end of the year, I was released to find my new life. Private Stringer put Walsall behind you, As they say, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.This is my first twenty months in the Army.

WELCOME TO ARBORFIELD

"Hands of cocks on with socks, get out of bed you idle bastards. Outside in ten minutes." Nobody expected to be part of the great British institution was going to be easy Yes I was a member of the British Army. But come on half past five on a freezing December morning. "Morning you useless shower. My name is Seargent Bastard I`m your new best mate. What am I?" My new best mate we all shouted.Okay, Bastard suited him but I didn`t want to push it.I had met the sarge on the Waterloo to Wokingham train and he was the nicest bloke in the world, even got me a lift with him to Camp Arborfield but saying cheers mate inside the confides of the camp let out the raging bull I see today "Who gave any of you permission to talk 20 press ups now." I never expected it to be easy but I was already knackered from the previous day's journey Have they not got any sympathy, The next few weeks were going to answer that. 14,15 16 I could feel my heart giving in, " Call that a press up? It`s not one of the local slags you`re on top of NOW do them again and straighten those diddy little arm muscles. Now once around the square and report to the cookhouse for breakfast." Hard to believe that only yesterday I was so looking forward to my soon to be career. Gently dossing on my way to London, the first time I had ventured on my own further than Wolverhampton . Being a Walsall lad had its benefits, Nobody pisses about with a Walsall lad My mind was confused with the thought of swinging my machine gun around lobbing grenades and generally causing a bit of mayhem. A bit like Saturday night at the town hall after a few bevvies.  Leaving behind the black country was going to be a big wrench. Note the black country, not Birmingum [Birmingham].You gotta live there to know the difference Barely able to keep my eyes open, those last couple of pints last night were beginning to catch up with me and there it was the land of the living Dirty smoky scruffy London. What a letdown. It was a different world alright, hippies beggars and rough looking scroungers and this was only Euston Railway station. God knows what it`s going to be like on the streets When I decipher this maze i.e. the underground it`s Waterloo here I come. "What`s you name are you asleep is there anybody in there?" Seargent Bastard had noticed me, a bad thing on your first day. "Yes, sir Don`t fucking sir me I work for a living twenty press ups." Still, only six weeks of this alleged basic training or is it. Surely this is only to make you aware that life as you knew it is no more. I am but a number and I can`t remember it yet but "What`s last three keeps cropping up.” This is it we are off to get a uniform, Might as well put three stripes on mine so they can call me Sergeant Smart arse. Blimey have we got to double everywhere. "What size head are you?" " I don`t know thats your job." "Put him down for 7 ½ that's near enough." Good guess though, Pity I can`t see anything. The trousers are closer only 8 inches too long. I thought this was REME, not the guards I`m going to look stupid with 8 inch turnups. Suddenly I have that many clothes and boots in my hands I can hardly stand up. After finally being pointed to our barrack sleeping quarters affectionately known as spiders we are expected to put all this gear in its relevant place in a big tin. A couple of hours and never ending groans from my brothers in arms it`s all been put away only for some load mouthed cockney twat with a single stripe to pull it all out saying it`s not good enough. Logic says somebody needs to show us what they want us to do. Now for the pride of the REME, every day uniform the coverall, not overalls and something called a steam iron. I never ironed my overalls in my civvie job, did I just say civvie? I`m feeling part of the team already
"Outside on the double and fall in three ranks," Whatever that means. Luckily several of my army buddies had been in camp for a few days and had a basic clue what to do. It`s Sergeant whatshisname, better stick to bastard for now. "March them off for dinner corporal Smith, report back here at 14 hundred hours ,"Blimey how longs dinner for. Now if you have never seen an army canteen before it is a sight to behold. Hundreds of blokes crushing to be fed like pigs at troughs. I was starving so that`ll do me. Coming from a big family I knew what it was like to be grateful for whatever is put in front of you but I was amazed at the array of various dishes in front of me. Perhaps I could get used to this after all. Some of the grub was a complete mystery to me, who has boiled rice for dinner or stringy stuff not mention the funny smelling mincemeat. I'm game for anything so it was the mincemeat and the obligatory chips. God that mincemeat is burning my mouth off. My first taste of CURRY, not any curry Army grade curry. Where`s the water? I'll try the stringy stuff next time apparently called spaghetti. Ugh yuk the sound of somebody gagging. We all turn to see who it is not really enjoying their meal. " Trouble with the food private." "Yes, corporal one of my chips has just moved on its own." Now I had never seen a cockroach before but this was pretty big like a massive moth but it was pretty gross and not even cooked I laughed. "Sgt major a complaint about your food." This was going to be interesting. Nobody and I mean nobody in their right mind is going to complain about their food in the first week. The cookhouse Sgt major can only be described as built like a brick shithouse and this one is red faced and snarling like a rabid dog. "Problems private ." "Not really sir just found a cockroach in my dinner ." "Cockroach I`ll give you fucking cockroach that`s extra protein, Of all the plates in here and you happen to have the only one with extras, Do you want to take it up with the CO". After this little skirmish everyone is carefully searching through their dinner. You start looking around and then you see them there are thousands of the little sods all around the vents and cooking extractors.I`m going to have nightmares about this but I decline from complaining. Probably wind up having to exterminate them. Now, this is a new thing for me Afters or pudding if you are posh, something and custard for me, surprisingly not bad. Boy am I bloated.Time for a quick lie down. "Stand by your beds." It`s that cockney twat.I thought we were off until, 1400 hours it`s only just 2 o'clock. “ I am going to introduce you to the Bumper." What are we supposed to do with that? Two hours later I was the supreme floor bumping champion. Yes, it is a torturing polishing tool to shine the central part of the wooden floor. I had stupidly wondered who was responsible for that chore. Why the cockney wanted to see his face in it worried me a bit can`t he be trusted with a mirror. One final touch up and it`s ready for the first inspection.
I don`t believe it the big footed Sergeant Bastard [Found out he is named Lewis] has just strolled across it in his wet hob nailed boots, What a prick but I`m not going to tell him. Not fucking good enough do it again. Another wasted hour, everyone is tiptoeing around the outside or over the beds, Don`t touch the floor. Five o'clock time for another dinner, the earlier one is called lunch.
Still, that's it for today time to relax and have a couple of pints. You`ve guessed no such luck time to learn how to blanco and polish brasses and in my own time. Well, tomorrow is a new day and it`s new years eve 1966 so a lie in maybe and a bit of knees up in the NAAFI. Sweet dreams. "Stand by your beds,"??? I`ve only been in it a couple of hours. Learnt another life saving skill overnight,  How to spoon and spit on my boots, very useful after a 10 mile forced march I dare say, must be some necessa
ry, otherwise we wouldn`t need to do it unless it`s for cockney lance corporal to see his face in it. Foolishly I thought today and tomorrow were going to be easy days. Never crossed my mind about guard duty and picket duty, still a chance to play with my rifle. Been pretty quiet today most of the regulars are away on New years leave, not that I have a need to go home just yet. Report to the guardhouse after dinner so my gun must be awaiting me. "Fall in tention stand at ease," I didn`t think we would be doing drill tonight. "Collect your weapons," This is it there it is a bloody dirty great pick axe handle what am I supposed to do with this. What happened to me people killer? After a brief introduction to the merits of a lump of wood there I am in a wood. Pretty, dark good job I have a wonky 1.5 candle powered torch I can nearly see my feet. If anyone approaches me it`s ,"Halt who goes there friend or foe". They might be standing next to me for all I know. Good job I`m heavily armed Stop or I`ll blind you with my super duper high intense light and maim you with my stick. Yes, that should frighten the foes off. Good job I hold the school record for the 200 yards. In the distance I can hear what sounds like gunfire it`s either that or party poppers. We had been told there might be poachers in the nearby woods ain't they got a party to go to. Good job it`s only a two hour stag trust me to get the midnight to two o'clock shift. Just check the time seems like I`ve been here for hours and it`s freezing. Fack me an hour and three quarters to go . I`m never going to make it.
Lucky me got four hour break just nodding off now they want me to go out again.

Welcome to 1967 New years day, got to be a rest day I`m knackered.

”Stand by your beds .“

Jesus I`ve only just lay down.

"Need 6 volunteers you you you three and oh yes you the Brummie."

Good job he is over six foot tall or I would knock seven colours out of him Brummie !!!!! cheeky ignorant geographically challenged moron. Whats it going to be this time, sweeping floors, picking up scuts.

" Report to the Sgts mess for cookhouse and ablution duty.”

Looks like my easy day has finished. To the uninitiated Ablution is the army way of saying Shit house. Shouldn`t be too bad these sergeants` ought to know about cleaning up after themselves. For crying out loud what`s happened here, looks like there has been a massive brawl with all the defenseless sandwiches and trifle, not to mention the pinky carroty patches of vomit. If I got to clean up that lot there's going to be a load more puke to clear up.

“You you and you yes that`s me report to the cookhouse."

Thank you, lord can`t be worse than here. At least I know why it`s called Sgts mess now grotty bastards.

"Thems called potatoes and you clever people have got to pick out the best and peel them then the carrots, sprouts and anything else,and anything else that Sgt major Cook[good name for a cook] desires."

"What we got to do with the crappy stuff, sir? "

"Take them to the other ranks cookhouse”. No wonder they do a load of mash and burnt chips. Okay with plenty of gravy. How much we have to do I`m a potential tradesman, not a cookhouse skivvie. Question answered enough to feed thirty. Are they big eaters after last nights obvious party. "Do too much rather than too little, Any leftovers go to the underlings". That will be us then. Now you think the modern army would have a mechanical means of peeling vegetables, Think again. Peeling veggies with a six inch knife is a bit laborious.

"Please, sir, I`ve got a blister on my thumb."

”You will have one on your arse if you keep complaining" 
This is the first time I have had the chance to speak to my fellow combatants so I will introduce myself. "I`m Archie, not Brummie and I come from Walsall in the Black Country."

My two volunteer partners turned out to be Cockneys. One is from Southampton way and comes in at six foot seven inches weighing 14 stone so he`s working in the right place. Obviously, he is nicknamed Tiny. The other one comes from the smoke Islington I think he said, bit awkward when they get into their stride.He is locally known as Santa due to his sense of dress IE Sports a red suit and white shirt.

After a ton of veg peeling and two hours later we are free to go but report to Sgt Bastard where we are reassigned to the Sgt's mess.

I thought the mess hall was a bit iffy but not half as bad as the toilet area, Where had all this crap come from I'm sure that `s half of someone's stomach in the cubicle. Christ my stomach will be on the floor any minute. A gallon of bleach, disinfectant and loads of stomach gagging, we are done. "Help yourself to the leftover food from last night lads,"

Blimey what`s up with him? Being civil to the lower ranks we`ll be getting New years kiss off him at this rate. Packed bags, we`re off to share our spoils. Hope they don`t miss that half bottle of whiskey off the bathroom floor, better check it`s not piss.

“Stand by your beds senior soldier present,"

That`s a new one on me.

"I said stand by your bed". Who the hell is this prat?

By now he is the full face on It`s some Taffy. “I said by your beds ." I retorted go fuck yourself what makes you a senior soldier. Turns out his service number is 40 points smaller than mine so he is senior by about ten minutes. His mouth is so close and wide I can see and smell what he had for dinner. He is becoming a total prat now he has decided to manhandle me and pull me off my bed. "Give it a break Taff."

“Or what".

Too late the bad day and the red mist have caught up with me, Wallop his nose explodes like a squashed tomato. After a bit of dancing, we are separated .

"Can`t you take a frigging joke Brummie?"

He is liable to get another if he doesn`t get away from me. A strange accent hits my ears,

“Typical Walsall waller."

Turns out there is some kind of civilization .

"Talking with your fists where yow from Goscote, Coalpool or Blakenall?"

It`s a Yammy from Wolverhampton. This welsh fool had been doing this in all of the spiders and I was the first to clock him. This breath of fresh air who spoke proper English is Dosser Hughes from a shitty neighbourhood of Wolvo but he is ok cause he is Walsall born and supports the Saddlers.

We had a lot in common, really nice. From big family had nothing and looked after our own. Unfortunately, he was not there for long, got discharged with poor health.So it`s back to trying to figure out what people were saying. Struggling with the cockneys just about okay with scousers but got no chance with the Geordies or the jocks.

THE LEAN GREEN FIGHTING MACHINE
Today's the day we are going to be let loose with our weapons. Today it`s the 762 self loading rifle This should be good but I`m a bit dubious about my fellow squaddies. Half of them don`t think it is necessary to be armed as we are the mechanics of the British army. Do they think in battle they are going to supply us with bodyguards?

The rifle I have looks like it`s seen better days and is that blood stains on the butt. Never mind it looks like the next few hours will be spent stripping and cleaning the bloody thing. I`m beginning to think being deadly and armed is not all it`s cracked up to be. We will see.

An hour later and having stripped and reassembled said weapon it`s time to be tested on our knowledge and speed we can strip it. A piece of cake, Or so I thought it would be. but eight minutes to take apart and rebuild is considered to be the speed of a cockeyed moron with one arm.

"TRY AGAIN this time with zest."

Well, that`s a bit of luck they are trusting us to look after these weapons safely overnight so we can practice in our own time. Good job we have all night, perhaps we can fit it in between bumping floors, polishing boots and brasses and a thousand other time consuming chores. Well, I have cracked mine down to three minutes and only a couple of leftover parts. Now how does that gas plug fit again after I have picked it up for the tenth time.
After two hours it`s time to change my view I`ll be dreaming about this all night.

“Brummie why are you putting your rifle under your mattress?" "Just to keep it warm you pillock,Why do you think?" Next morning they suddenly realise why I did. Three have misplaced their rifles, that`s going to be tricky to explain.

“Where the fuck is your rifle private?"

Two have found out "Don`t know,"is not the correct answer.

Left right left right at triple time three unarmed trainee soldiers have marched away. My ears are ringing from the severe bollocking they are having and they are about hundred yards away. I had already been warned this is one of the ploys of the training staff to get it into your head about security and love that rifle like it`s your only friend.

Ten loud minutes three sheepish looking miserable people triple march back into the room with aforesaid missing weapons. A valuable lesson learned  it`s time to put our new skills to the test. Firing range here we come.

Funny how everybody is cuddling their rifles. Now don`t get me wrong but I have been looking forward to having a pop with this new toy but a three mile forced march on a freezing January morning is not the ideal start.

Just as I thought got no feelings in my fingers, How am I supposed to fire a powerful weapon with no apparent feelings anywhere.  Am I still alive? After dropping numerous bullets I manage to load twenty rounds into the magazine. This should be easy the target is only one hundred yards away.If Davy Crockett can shoot the hind legs off a fly at half a mile this should be easy peasy.

We are split into two groups one to fire and one in the butts. I got the butts never mind only shooting twenty rounds to get a feeling for the rifle. Ping ping bang whoosh whistle blimey if you don`t get shot the sound will deafen you.

"Down targets."

All we have to do is cover the holes over with the relevant coloured paper and note where the main hits are on the target then indicate to the shooter. Mine is pretty easy, NONE yes none. Next to me, private Tiny has found sixteen hits out of ten possible. Methinks my shooter is aiming at the wrong target.

Above us, we hear the shooting group approaching to access their first efforts. I look up and it`s the Rhonda valley hit man wearing the thickest jam jar glasses I have ever seen.

"What`s the matter Taffy your target not upset you enough." followed by the loudest bollocking I`ve heard for a couple of days. Sgt Bastard is back!!!

We are supposed to be the cream of the British army Creamy REME and this bloke can`t work out the fourth target from the right. Remind me to be behind him when we are on the front line. A quick change over my turn to dish out some misery for the unmarked target.

"Prone position ten rounds in your own time GO," As a one week experienced trainee killer I`m thinking what the fuck he`s saying till I notice people throwing themselves onto the ground. Blimey, I`m already freezing now I`m lying on a lump of ice with a 150 mile per hour icy wind blast in my face. I`m going to kill someone if I don`t stop shaking. Then it clicks in hold your breath gently squeeze the trigger boom. That`s woke me up boom boom another nine rounds.Just have a quick check I`m on the proper target, Ok let it go. Corporal, I hear someone shouting, " My rifle has stopped working."

" You dozy moron you`re only supposed to fire ten rounds not all of them." Glad I kept count. Time to stroll down to the butts to confirm my kill.”Six hits firing left”.Six !!! must have gone through the same hole a couple of times. Mind you I can`t complain the one who shot off twenty rounds only recorded three hits.

Another hour or so then it`s finished after the Compulsory, "I have no live rounds or empty casings in my possession sir." At least the heat of the rifle has slightly warmed my hands and now a gentle run back to barracks will warm the rest of me.
Not a bad day 13 hits, better than most. Now for the balls ache the rifle cleaning ritual.Got to be done I suppose. It`s taking longer to clean than to do the shooting and you know it`s not going to be good enough. Thought so my empty magazine is filthy and if I shoot anybody they are going to get blood poisoning, Corps observation, not mine. I am totally knackered and it is only just coming to ten o clock. Time for a mug of bromided tea. Girls are the last thing on my mind at the moment and for the foreseeable future.

Time to start our third week, My head is going through the mill. Everything is 1, 23, 1, I even do it when I`m on the toilet. Got a full billet and kit inspection tomorrow so it`s going to be a late bulling night. Luckily I have got the boot polishing off to a tee. Simple, put my boots in the bed space of the person who is probably the best spit and polisher in the whole army. It took him quite a time to realise they were not his boots , thanks to grassing Santa. Luckily he thought it was funny and started charging people but showed m the easy way of doing it.

“Stand by your beds," The dreaded early morning call and this is before breakfast, and ready to meet the platoon commander at 08.00. Our OC looked younger than most of his men a second Lieutenant called Arrowsmith. A proper looking nancy boy who obviously came from a well to do family.

"I am Leftenant Arrowsmith, I am your OC till you pass out in about four weeks. Some of you will make it some of you will not, those wasters will be back squadded”.

I don`t think I would like to this again but about seven men are in line for going mainly Santa How he got into REME is anybody's guess cause he is as thick as two short planks. Third week and he still can`t figure out the concept of alternative marching in step without arms flailing in the wrong sequence. He sticks out like sore thumb. Apparently, five percent failure is the normal so it`s bye bye Santa and some mouthy Taffy who I didn`t particularly like.

Fifteen minutes later everyone has had an earful of the nasty leftenant [ that's how you pronounce it] What does he know about bulling I bet he has a maid or a mommy to do his. Half a dozen mugs have been chucked up the wall some lockers are empty and God knows how many shoes and boots have gone flying to the corridor. My small problem is my bedding block, does not conform to military standards. After I spent half hour shaping pulling and pushing it to the required shape. It was okay till Sgt bastard threw the next bed onto my bed just because there was some unidentified fluff underneath it. Might be folly to mention it.

“Fall in outside in columns of three,"

Now it`s going to get personal. Over the last few weeks, we have been doing various assessments to decide our future in the corp. Listening to some of my fellow potential tradesmen I think there is going to be a lot of disappointments. Personally, I am applying to be a vehicle mechanic as I have had two years working on heavy goods vehicles. Today is one last assessment and to be told what we can or can`t do, Fingers crossed. On top of these assessments, we have been doing army education military training IE weapons and Map reading.Some people are having trouble finding the buildings to attend so that should be fun I am now a fully trained killer with use of the rifle, sub machine gun, Bren gun.9mm pistol and proficient in the use of pick handle. Wonders never cease to amaze me.

Final fitting of the khaki number two uniform and most important how to iron it. I`m not very keen on these hard forage caps but standard army wear so we all look like prats.I much prefer the dark blue beret, shame about the colour.

Weekend tomorrow and we have a pass if we want to pop home for family reunion. Not going to bother, too much traveling by train or a nightmare on a coach. Luckily I have a full driving licence, so further down the line a car when I have qualified for my new profession. On £6 a week it could be a long time coming.

Results pending everyone down the education centre. Standing tenth in line there`s a few red faces and thumbs down.

My turn comes. "Well, Stringer you want to be a vehicle mechanic ," Yes sir ." "There is an over call for these posts we will have more mechanics than motors." 
I can feel a tear welling up ready for the slap down. 

"So we are pleased to offer you a position as an Aircraft technician.". Well, that`ll do me wowee. I am over the moon It is an eighteen month training but the potential is amazing, Lance corporal after a year and a move up the wages ladder.

Can`t wait to tell the lads, try not to be too smug. I`ll make out I am going to be a storeman or driver. It`s no good I couldn`t last more than one hour and to be honest, fed up of never mind try again.

So after basic training in about two weeks, it`s off to Borden, Hampshire or somewhere like that. These next couple of weeks are going to be a nightmare. Apart from getting ready for our passing out parade this week, we are doing dummy runs for the platoon that are passing out before us. So it`s first dress rehearsal time in a full number two dress and the dreaded forage cap.

Some of us in their wisdom have decided to slash the beading on the peak of the cap, the intention being to pull the peak down to mimic german officers I think. What could possibly go wrong? The training staff has suggested slackening off the rifle wooden guard screws to exaggerate the slapping sound when doing rifle drill. I will leave mine as standard. Time for the first mock parade with the obligatory inspection.

"Am I hurting you, Stringer ?"

"No sarge."

"Well, I ought to be I`m standing on your hair Get it cut."

This is ridiculous I have had two haircuts in less than four weeks plus the haircut I had as a civilian.Must have a deal going with the barber. As the Sarge is going along the line he knows what he is looking for when he starts tugging on the peaks and they come off it`s a bit of a telltale. “Fix bayonets open order " 1, 23, 1, 23, 1. I do this in my sleep now so why we are still saying it I don`t know.After this mock parade, we won`t have to keep doing the numbers. "Present arms,"  There goes the first of the loose guard, someones in for a roasting. Worse than that one of us has dropped his rifle and slashed the trousers of the soldier in front of us. It`s not going to be a good day.

" Right turn salute and fall out, Room inspection in one hour."

Well it could have been worse I`m glad I left my kit in standard order. Five people are on a fizzer [charge] ranging from destroying MoD equipment to gross incompetence. Problem is we are all having to pay the price cause there`s no way we are going to pass this inspection now. Look on the bright side we get to do this all again tomorrow. Apparently, the leading soon to pass out platoon faired no better than us. Well, I got that right nothing absolutely nothing is getting past this inspection.

There is bed clothing thrown everywhere, lockers emptied tea mugs and shaving gear out the windows. Yes, we have got off light, the platoon in the next spider block is really getting it. God help any enemy getting on the wrong side of the drill staff. Three aspirins and a quick two mile stroll later I sense that Sarge and co are getting tired or running out of expletives.

After dinner, we are doing a trial run on the pass out parade again and this time there is no excuse for any failure. We have more or less two weeks before our big day is to come so we should be ok. The senior platoon is still running and in their number twos. They must be reeking by now. This afternoon we are doing time trials on weapon stripping and reassembly followed by latest fitness assessment.

I think Tiny, Santa and a few others are in trouble because the obstacle course is part of the agenda and we have had nonstop rain and freezing fog over the last few days. Tests over, a few need to be reassessed, nice clean rifle, Ideal time to take it through ten inch deep ruts of mud and more rain only monsoon standard. First obstacle Twelve foot high wall seems like twelve foot probably nearer eight. Still a bit naughty when you are soaked and tired. We are split into platoons and we are all responsible for each other to get over the entire course.Tiny is in the other platoon, an advantage on the wall but bear in mind he has to get over it as well. Now slippery parallel tree trunks over a six foot drop with a pool of mud and slime waiting to engulf the fallers. Only one way to do this head down and run across fast as you can, If you stop in the middle you are a goner because the bloke behind you is going to shake you off as he gets on the log and the log is getting muddier by the minute. I managed to be one of the first across as the log is only wet but we have left mud every couple of feet. Half a dozen fallers later who have got to do it again nearly all are onto the next stage a twenty foot climb up a cargo net onto a platform and scrambling along some planks followed by a leap of faith into a hanging cargo net.

I see in the distance Tiny still struggling to scale the net, He`s a big un!!! I thought I was pretty fit but amongst us are all sorts of athletes, footballers and body builders but the fellow I expected to have fitness problems is a five foot four inch rotund Yorkshire lad but blimey he is like shit off a shovel. Works out he is a semi professional rugby player with possible entrance to league status.I since find out why he is excused weekend billet duties Crafty sod represents the army rugby team. 

THE LAST PUSH


After a weekend off IE no inspections or parades we are informed there is going to be a full billet and kit inspection on Monday so the weekend is going to be busy with all necessary means of keeping the training staff off our backs.

Trouble is nobody was allowing for the squaddies who have gone home for the weekend and here comes the first one Santa and another Londoner who are both out of their trees. Bang go all our efforts in keeping the toilet area clean as both of them decide to see who can pee the most accurate from the doorway and spit into the open lavatory. When one of them is hoisted three feet into the air I figure Tiny has had enough as he did most of the mopping up. Roughly translated cockney. "Would you boys try to be a little more careful as I have only just finished in there" or something like that. Well, at least they have the task of addressing the mess they have made. Little do they know about the kit inspection and it is past midnight now.

They have a long night ahead of themselves. I venture to suggest we all give them a hand because if they are picked up on anything we are all going to pay the price. Reluctantly we muscle in on their kit but keeping them awake is a nightmare. Two O clock and we are all done let's hope they don`t wake up and start puking all over the place.

"Attention stand by your beds," This it do or die. "Who's bed is this?" Where the bloody hell is Santa now? Mystery solved as he comes strolling in from breakfast with a mug of tea and some toast.

"Is there any reason you think you are different to the rest of your platoon you idle scruffy meant to be a soldier." A blubbering unintelligible man is frog marched off to the guardroom. That was the last of Santa in our platoon and I heard he went AWOL

. A few days later he is spotted under lock and key claiming to have lost his memory as if they are going to care. I hope he likes polishing that galvanised steel bin gleaming in the guardroom because previous tenants have been bulling that previously rusty bin up for many years and its still not up to scratch.

This week sees the pass out of the senior platoon. As the junior platoon, we are supposed to be polishing up our own pass out but I sense a bit of rivalry between the senior ranks on who has the best platoon so we have got to put up with all their bigheads. It`s not going to be easy for anybody. It is the big day and like the rest of the platoon, I am feeling well and truly knackered. When their lot have passed out we have a final two weeks of tests bullshit and general sorting ourselves out. Most of us have got the marching out without the 1 23 1s but there is always someone who never quite gets it and he is generally marching next to me, Got to keep my eyes off him as you tend to follow the person next to you.

Yes, Paddy Tom Meehan is a bit disruptive.
The senior platoon surprisingly does their stuff virtually perfect. One chuffed sarge grinning from ear to ear [Didn`t know but the senior ranks judge their counterparts and money passes hands]. Luckily only a minor hiccup on our end, well done Paddy, You can hear the change step manoeuvre all over
the square, I think there might be a bit of an earful coming. That's more or less it for today apart from more haircuts and keeping on top of your kit.

Big mistake going dinner lunch or whatever you want to call it with your highly polished boots cause some big footed fool is guaranteed to walk all over them and that's exactly what`s happened to three of us. Probably a bit of high jinks or maliciousness, either way, a balls ache to start from scratch. Now, where is my polishing mate gone?

Tomorrow we are going on a camping spree, that should be OK if it manages to get warmer than minus four degrees. Bright and early so we don`t miss the sunrise, it`s out there somewhere it`s off to the country. A few miles down the road we are on the site, I can`t see any caravans or marquis type tents. Twenty rolled up lumps of canvas are willy nilly thrown to the ground. Bivouacs two men tents and we have to set them up in the woods on a perilous slope. It`s not looking like a peaceful stress free night is on the cards. A half hour later and we are issued with diddy shovels and given instructions on where and how to dig the ablutions, One large for us other ranks and one for the senior ranks Our accompanying officers will be sneaking of to the nearby pub I suppose. If you have ever tried to break ground in mid February it is bloody hard going. Ablutions dug : Time to up shovels except for the little task of trench digging with predetermined measurements. We will still be digging at ten O clock tonight and I'm starving.

Food did somebody say food. A tiny package is distributed to all ranks but the senior ranks knowing the score have brought their own additional supplies like coffee, cake and hot food. Two of the lower ranks have been tasked with building a large fire and it is pretty inviting if we can get past the senior ranks
“Is it cold enough for sleeping bags Sarge." I hold my breath I can only guess the answer ."No, it is only minus one they can use their all weather capes,"

Is he mental I can`t stop dithering here and he wants us to use capes. Not that we will have time to sleep we are given a grid point eight miles away and a compass. If we get there, we can have a lift back. Only eight miles does not sound a lot but cross country and freezing dark with a three hour deadline nigh on impossible. After getting my bearings I notice the finishing point is by a pub so no guessing where the marshals will be. I work out that if we find the road we can make good headway most of the way.

"Roads are not to be extensively used, If you get caught you will have to do it again." How do you interpret extensively ???? My fellow runner decides we will try the roads and get into the bushes if we hear any vehicles Shouldn't be many we are in the middle of nowhere. After constantly avoiding aforesaid vehicles about twenty times I opt for following a short stretch of canal and then onto a nature trail. This should take us within two miles of the checkpoint, It means a little back tracking but it will be faster and drier.

"Are you sure about this my weary mate mumbles, we ain't seen anybody out of the platoon to confer with." It is too late now we have been traipsing around for a good hour already. Within the hour we are in the confines of the pub rear yard.

"No don`t," Do I hear myself say, just report to the designated area.

A shocked lance corporal is surprised how quick we have done this and is checking with his superior. He comes back and gob smacked tells us it is OK to pop into the pub. All the senior ranks are there, really struggling with the cold night air.

"Stringer report to my office after breakfast," I think we have been rumbled.

Next morning most of us have made it back to camp and squeezed in a couple of hours of sleep.

Some are still missing so a search party with land rovers are sent looking for them. Not surprising Tiny is one of the missing. I report to Sgt Lewis expecting to get a good dressing down.

"You were an HGV mechanic in civvie street then so report to the mobile LAD by the roadside and help Lance corporal Johnson with some repairs." Okay I had a couple of years working on heavy goods I'm only eighteen I'm not that good. Turns out a brake pipe has been ruptured on a land rover and he needs a hand to bleed the system.This will do me for a bit, need to drag it out a while though. Johnson a scouser agrees with my thoughts but does not say as much. I came into the army with a full driving licence so I was able to fetch parts and mess about for a while.

Four hours later I report back to camp only to find I had missed out on moving five hundred yards down the road and doing all the digging again. God bless you scouser he obviously knew the score so did not rush the job.

Bit of luck it`s time for some warm food although I was not really hungry with enjoying proper food with my new found mate. A few elementary map reading lessons and fifty rounds on the range and it is time for a forced march back to camp.

After the obligatory rifle cleaning, we are stood down for the day, Just a couple of hours washing and ironing all our dirty kit. 

 Fitness tests today, I feel quite confident but I fear a few of us are about to be back squaddied and I don`t want to even think of that.I think Tiny is definitely in doubt, a shame, really nice bloke. He has lost a couple of stone but he is still pretty big and loses his pace and breath fairly quick. Not too bad only three out of twenty two  have got to be reassessed not including Tiny, He's pleased as punch. Good news for the three they can have another go tomorrow. 

 Medical centre here we come probably ball picking up time and deep breaths. Time for compulsory injections. There is a bit of commotion at the rear, sounds like Tiny.

" No, I can`t no way." Unbelievable the big lad is frightened of needles.

He is given the options Needles, confined to local postings or medical discharge. I hope he takes the first option it would be a shame to lose him after all the work he has put in.

Passed with flying colours only the final passing out parade to overcome. We are all asked if we have any relatives are actually coming to the parade. Mine can`t with seven kids still at home its a question if they can afford to come via three train links and an hourly bus service let alone the costs. I settle myself down to possibly my last night of bulling and decide a quick pint at the local is in order.

After the quick briefing by the CO and last inspection by Sgt Lewis,  it is time to get this show on the road. "Attention by the left quick march." I can hear Paddy muttering 1  23 1 under his breath, Don`t cock it up now, I scream at him in my head.

After the successful parade demonstrations of physical fitness and unarmed combat, we are excused to join our families. Thinking that's it Sgt Lewis informs us that those without family members are to act as waiters,cleaners or anything that needs attention. 

GOODBYE ARBORFIELD 

It is our last stand by your bed fiasco and onto waiting Bedford trucks to be sent to our next training camp which is a trade training camp so not much soldiering maybe. 

Little did I know what I had in store.

 

BORDON BEWARE

Been an uneventful day so far, seen the last of Sergeant Bastard and of most of my brothers in arms.I have been looking forward to this new camp with the promise of better pay when qualified and an early promotion to lance corporal within the year, All I have to do is keep my head down keep up with my studies and Bob`s your uncle.  As I have been given the opportunity to better my trade from a vehicle mechanic to airframes and engine fitter with the Army Air Corp in my wisdom I have increased my term of service from six years to nine years with the option of twenty-two years, We will see if it is wisdom or folly.
  Spent most of this morning returning bedding weapons and anything else belonging to basic camp.I think everyone had to pay some sort of penalty for damaged equipment mainly soiled mattresses.I know mine was previously soiled but you try telling that to a burly  stroppy quartermaster, just pay it and shut it
  Of course, we have got to draw out the same amount of bedding for our stay but I`m a little bit wiser and check all my equipment properly.
The great news is no weapons to be responsible for only easy to lose bits and bobs like books and writing materials.
  "Settle your self in and report for lunch [which is still dinner] in one hour then a welcoming talk with the boss this afternoon"
Well, he seemed okay for a corporal, hope it`s not to lure us into a false sense of security.
  The old silly argument about dinner and lunch is brought to the dinner table and leading the way is some jock.
"When you were at school, what was that dingaling tool called?Yes, it was a bell, and what did it ring for at about twelve  o'clock".
Some smart arse joins in"It was the dinner bell".
Hence my point of view, not the lunch bell the dinner bell , case closed.
"Now can I eat my lunch in peace?"
All the new personnel report to the large building which holds a chieftain tank lying in numerous bits.
 A list of names is called out including me and we are given a title of " A platoon"
It looks like I will be on the course with about fifteen potential air corp fitters.
After about two hours of monotonous repeating of standing orders, we are stood down for the rest of the day.
Thank god for that overdone the celebrations last night.
A quick check on the notice board then it`s off to try the NAAFI with my new found friends and signing on extra money.
Three pounds a week extra does not sound a lot but from six to nine pounds is phenomenal, That will cover the two pounds a week I send to my cashed out mom.
  I don't believe it I have drawn the short straw again, the first night here and I am on guard duty which is six till six.I have upset somebody.So much for a quick couple of pints.
  After brekkies, we meet up at a lonely forgotten part of the barracks where we all are given various timetables and maps .Surely the camp is not that big as I strolled around most of it at four o clock this morning while on guard duty armed with the obligatory pick axe handle and torch.It will heaven help any body attacking these barracks, it will be blind them with the five candle powered torch and whack them with my stick, then run like crazy to get help, whatever happened to radios I know it`s 1967 but there has got to be some other way of communicating better than screaming.
Quickly perusing the aforesaid timetable it seems we have a sports afternoon on Wednesday.I wonder what they can think of to do in freezing February.
As tomorrow is Wednesday we will soon find out.Meanwhile, it`s tea break in the mobile cafe which tours the camp.
Our cafe point is in one of the tank repair buildings where the stink of an exhaust is overwhelming.I`m glad that I won`t be working on these monsters, Somebody has got to clean these after a day of trudging through deep mud for hours, no that's not for me.
After a day of going here and going there we are stood down for the day but only to be told there is a room inspection at eight o'clock in the morning, Where`s that bumper.I thought we had seen the last of them.
Looking on the bright side at least the floor is polished all over not like basic training where the floor centre is plain wood so no finicky soft spots to knacker your motion.
Of course when we arrived our spick and span lifestyle went out the window with just chucking all our gear into the tin wardrobe now we have to dig it all out and do it properly, what a bunch of pillocks.
Several hours later I can get my head down, I`m still feeling the effects of guard duty cause believe me you don`t get much shuteye and you can`t undress to get comfortable.
What the hell is all that racket? What time is it? Six am yes there are two sixes in a day and some prat is screaming about getting your arse out of bed.Don`t they know who I am?I know cause Sgt Bastard had enlightened me.
I`m the little smart arsed upstart Brummie and that is the clean version
Surely he has not been posted here as well.I seem to remember he was not clever enough to learn a trade and was permanently dispatched as a regimental instructor, in other words, a thick Sgt Bastard but I never got round to telling him. Apparently, this is the norm for incoming trade recruits just to let them know they are still expected to follow basic military procedures.
  After breakfast which was remarkably cockroach free it`s down to the bullshit.
I can hear a lot of raised voices coming from the different rooms along the corridor and it looks like we are having our cards marked good and proper.
The mouth enters before the attached lance corporal and immediately lets loose with "What`s  up with you bunch of toerags ?don`t you recognise superiority when a senior soldier walks in the room?"
 Now, where have I heard that before?
In walks what has got to be the smallest soldier on the planet and he`s not a ghurka with the loudest biggest mouth.
Just what we need another failed tradesman.
  After suffering a torrent of abuse we are left to reassemble all our gear and be on parade in twenty minutes.
With all the obligatory "lazy, scruffy not fit to wear the Queen`s uniform "out the way, it`s doing a couple of circuits of a massive square at full speed ahead. God, I thought Arborfield square bashing was tedious but this is really tiring.
Good job I`m one of the fitter ones.
Actually onto some kind of trade training albeit typical health and safety procedures.
 Well, sports afternoon is on us I took the precaution of eating a light meal, judging by our welcome we are going to have to deal with some sort of hardship.
Reporting to the gymnasium in horrible long shorts and plimsoles we are run through a warming up session.
A half hour passes, then one hour and this is a warm up!
Lots of the platoon are regretting their lunch and pudding with a couple running to the toilet to call for hewiie or barf.
The PI, physical instructor to you ignoramuses is a heavily muscled giant of a man currently the regimental heavyweight champion, so he gets my respect commands us to change footwear to our highly polished boots.
" Okay, boys we are going for a little stroll around the local beauty spots better known as the tank tracks.If you hear a roaring screeching sound go to the side of the tracks cos these bastards don`t see other people using their tracks as a necessity.I am only telling you this once so let it sink in".
Yesterday in the tank buildings we saw first-hand the state of the vehicles after they had been on these tracks and it`s midwinter  I fear we are going to be cold, tired and pretty much covered in all the churned up mud.Wonderful.
Two hours later and the end is in sight well the camp is.I don`t recognise any of my co-runners as we are all really smothered in two inches of mud which is caking up on our hot sweaty bodies.
"Anybody not happy?". Who in their mind is going to answer that?
"Okay everybody into the tank wash and get some of this crap off you"
We all reluctantly enter the large pool of grimy water and start washing some of the mud off.
"Stop what you are doing twenty pressups".
Is he crazy it`s not a heated swimming pool, it`s at least minus ten degrees?
"Did I hear moaning? put your hand up the moaner"
Obviously no volunteers there then.
"Must have been all of you then, ten situps"
Under our breaths we are all saying keep it quiet don`t grumble, we will be here all night at this rate
We have a diversion on the way back to camp to a small shack with boarded up windows.
"Tomorrow we will be doing gas mask fitting and testing in here, so make sure your masks are working and in good order." 
Something else to look forward to.I had already done this procedure and it is not very nice.
Some had not done the gas testing so we obviously made it out to be the most horrid thing you can ever do.
The dreaded tomorrow arrives, loaded up with mints and my gas mask we are shepherded into the shack ten at a time.
The main purpose of the shed is to show that the masks do indeed stop, in this case, tear gas from going into your eyes and nose.
I know that we will have to remove our masks to prove that they do work but I can`t see the point of walking around the room at a fast pace maybe it is to make sure we get a good swallow of the gas.
One by one we are lined up with the instructor telling us one by one to remove our mask and state your name, rank and serial number.
The gas is already irritating my freshly shaved neck and exposed skin parts.
My turn arrives and I manage to splutter out most of the required information before being let out to the fresh air.
A lot of coughing and wheezing is happening all around me.
Now I have seen James Cagney "On top of the world Ma", overcoming tear gas so I figure he must be some sort of a superhero but I am not in that class or it is possibly not quite true.
I fill my mouth with a juicy mint to get rid of the burning sensation but I still cannot open my eyes yet.
It`s our turn to watch the others enter the building so they can feel what it is like to be laughed at when you are choking.
One of the latest to enter is so overcome by the gas he breaks through the wall. He needs to recheck his mask as he will be expected to do it again to actually test his mask to give him confidence in it.
Eventually, it is all over for the day so it`s back to some sort of normality.
The voice looms "We are looking for a local acting, unpaid lance corporal, So either nominate one or we will volunteer one, Let us know before lights out"
Lights out this the sixties, not the forties.
 We all have our ideas who to nominate, obviously Mr Nice guy but I think they already have someone in mind.
It`s going to be the most obnoxious arse licking two-faced moron they can use, so that rules me out.
We put in our nominations and with a casual glance they put it in the filing cabinet, you might know it as the bin.
With that, back to bulling my boots and a quick pint before nighty nights.
Time will tell but I have started a book at two bob a go. 
All the latest fodder from Arborfield is assembled on the square.It`s time for the announcement of the due to be promoted local acting lance corporal.
"We have gone through all of your suggestions, discarded them and come to a decision."
The new junior NCO is private  Fucking loudmouthed ignorant welsh twat Evans , We have met before and we are not the best of friends.
The last time I met this prat he was tasting my fist with his nose.
I just knew they would select some nobhead who hated everybody, not from the valleys.
Being a brown nosing grassing two faced back stabbing jealous taff must certainly put you in the running for early promotion.
Luckily I won`t cross paths with him most of the time as he is training to be a vehicle recovery mechanic and not in the same circles as me and as for his pastime of sheep shagging, I`ll give that a miss too.
  "Take them away corporal Evans and report to the barrack offices for you stripes and instructions."
Over breakfast we openly talk about what prat put Evans forward for the job, Nobody liked him and he is called "Billy no mates" so how come.
It seems to me that the other corporals and Sargents have picked up on the fact he is not very popular and so it`s like a kick in the cobblers for all and sundry.
We discuss who is going to be the first to get a fizzer off the welsh man and I am high on the list.No, let bygones be bygones and hope he thinks the same way.
"What`s a fizzer? " pipes up Paddy Mehan.
"It`s local colloquial for a charge"
"Whats colloquial ?" 
"Fuck off Paddy ".
Tomorrow is another day so Evansy might be a changed man, but I doubt it, the welsh twat is an out and out prick.
Luckily he doesn`t bed down in our dormitory so we have not got to be with longer than necessary.
Friday today so we can look forward to a weekend off and I have not but most with any duties; Time to check out the local village life.
It`s been a bit inspection? today with talk of basic engine running.Not to come over big headed but I do know this information already.
Learnt one basic error to avoid in future, Never volunteer that you are familiar with anything because the instructors need some scapegoat to belittle to prove they are the clever ones and not us mere mortals.
A simple question put to us "How does a four stroke engine work? anybody"? 
So like an imbecile I  put forward what I know.
"Basically it is suck, squeeze, bang and blow."
 I am correct but they want it put into proper technical terms. After a spell of slagging off from the instructor, my mind sixteen behind Keep your gob shut, let someone else take the flack.
The most boring part of the day is not the lesson but the constant questions being repeatedly asked by my fellow trainees. God, you are supposed to bee the cream of the British army and you can`t see the obvious.
 After what seems like a long day, time for dinner a doss and a couple of pints.
I leave my classmates pondering on today's studies and I`m off.
Luckily I am one of these people who once I have written something down I tend to remember it so I can give revision a bit of a miss.
Tiny the giant of a man pipes up " You gave the easiest way of explaining the running of an engine for me Archie, sure we and accurate."
  "Cheers mate I`m off for a bevvy I`ll catch you later in the NAAFI"
With that Bordon nightlife here we come.
 Well, that didn`t take long, It took longer to walk to the village than to walk through it.What a dump, a tatty little cafe, and a small pub; should be called Boredom, not Bordon, It`s no wonder there is a shortage of young villagers they have all moved out of the sticks to nearby towns be them only with populations of a few thousand.
I will never slag off Walsall again, well not till I`m there anyway.
 Back to camp, it is and into the NAAFI at least there should be a bit of noise there.
The jukebox is blaring out loud music, this is the sixties when proper music was being made.
A few of my classmates are in but some are still studying.It is Friday night, they can do swotting during the day if they need to.Tonight is about relaxing.Not much chance of overdoing the celebrations, money is a bit tight with all the fines catching up from Arborfield quartermaster.
Saturday morning, What to do?  Get all my kit ready for Monday inspection? No, I think not, see who is up for a game of footie, maybe.
"Stringer get down here". 
What`s this all about.A quick peek down the corridor reveals newly promoted lance corporal Evans. Time to do ducking and diving I don`t need him on my back.
Too late the snakey welsh prat is behind me.
"Are you deaf Stringer ?"."Sorry mate, what did you say?"
He won`t see the irony of that.
"Don`t mate me".screams the local:"I`m not your mate your pal your buddy or anyway a friend of yours."
"No chance of a quick pint later then I suppose?"
"No fucking way Jose", a red faced Evans spits out.
 "The names Stringer but you already know that: so what do you want?
"Nip to the shops and get me, twenty players."
Quick as a flash, I dive in "football or hockey?"
That has definitely gone over his head.
"Cigarettes you moron".
"Make up your mind I was Jose a minute ago."
By now he is turning scarlet and I am thinking I must be pushing my luck.
I couldn`t hold back any longer, not the fists the inner anger.
"What`s welsh for fuck off you sheep shagging cretin". 
"Do you know who I am Stringer?"
Obviously got a memory problem;"Is it lance corporal something or other?"
He`s gone and I am lost in an excess of verbal abuse.
  The next thing I remember is being escorted to the guardroom by four burly regimental police.You don`t mess with these blokes they carry weapons and proper batons.
"Charge corporal Evans?"
"Disobeying a direct order."
With this, I am escorted to the cells where I meet up with other victims of Evans.
"Alright Stringer, what`s he got on you?"
"I don`t really know I was so busy avoiding being covered in spit to take much notice."
 After a couple of hours bullshitting and polishing the galvanised waste bin we are put in front of some young officer.
Soon it is my turn to have the obligatory bolocking.
"Any reason why you disobeyed an order private Stringer?"
"Yes sir I don`t have the money to pay for Corporal Evans cigarettes, so I couldn`t fetch them."
"Do you mean he expected you to pay for them as well ?"
"He never offered any money and he does tend to bully since his promotion nor will he let you talk to explain things".
Out the corner of my eye, I spot an extremely frustrated Corporal Evans.
"Is this true corporal?"
After a few yes but no buts, the young officer is obliged to admonish my case and take Evans to the side for a bit of pep talk.
I fear I am to be a target, time to take note of everything he says and does.
  Unbeknown to me several of my brother in arms had heard my bit of a rift with Evansy and began casual remarks about me being Spanish descendant but most annoyingly were doing sheep baying sounds whenever the corp was just within earshot.
Paddy remarks "What part of Spain are you from then Arch?"
I tried to explain the joke to Paddy but it is hard work.
"Why are they calling you Hosay when your name starts with a J."I try to enlighten him that it is a silent J but add the fact I was born on  Huly 4th a big day in America
"So are you English Spanish or American"
"Fuck off Paddy ask the corporal".
The days are passing fast and soon sports day is upon us yet again, What can they possibly have in store for us?
There are six inches of snow on the ground so I imagine it is going to be synchronised snow shovelling.
We are all gathered at the large gymnasium so maybe we will be inside at least.
On entering the building there is a lot of boxing equipment lying about so the mind wanders.
"Well, gents a choice of activities today; one some light work with the regiment boxing team or outside shifting snow".
Being a gent I put my hand up for the workout with the boxers, How bad can it be and least we are inside.
Most of the wimps opt for the snow trail "the fools"
 Ater a warm up we are kitted out with pads and various equipment for the boxers to have a punch at.
"Form a line heaviest on the left".
I note that the amateur boxers are kitting up with gumshields headgear and boxes so I imagine they must be up for some light sparring; I wonder who with, is the question going through my brain.
It`s not rocket science as the chief staff looks down the line eying up the voluntary fodder.
"Number two, get in here."
Pretty obvious to all of us now as number two is knocked all over the place with a final battering in the corner.
"Next", as he signals to me.
Reluctantly I enter with the intention of going down pretty quick.
"Can I take this one staff as a late comer enters the gym.
Just my luck it`s lance corporal Evans."Cause you can Taff we will make it an England versus Wales match.
Now I didn`t know that the welsh prat was a budding national champion or i would have paid for his fags.
With a ding of a bell, the bastard is laying into me and my counter punching is not getting past his padding.
I forgot to mention we the lambs to the slaughter are not wearing any protection and the boxers have all got their own.
 I take a couple of heavy body punches but I'm` not letting him put me down.
 Ding ding thank god that`s over.
The staff comes over to me and spits in my face "You`re not trying Stringer, try defending yourself as if your life depends on it".
"I don`t know the rules staff and he is wearing protection so I`m limited to available targets."
"Balderdash Stringer, give him at a bit of a work out he`s new to the team and needs it
Looks like I`m the only one going to get a second round, lucky me Ding ding he is on to me.
I take a heavy blow to my stomach and buckle up with pain.
"Take it easy Evans you have a two stone advantage on him".
While he is taking instruction I see my chance, a headbutt straight to his testicles, He`s down and I follow with an almighty uppercut to his nose.
With his nose halfway over his head, I am dragged off him before I could really lay into him.
Ding ding, I run around the ring arms aloft "Come on England".
 "Disqualified ", says the chief staff "contrary to Queensbury rules.
"I told you I didn`t know the rules Staff; Does that mean I lost?" I smirk.
As the loser sorry win by defaulter is carried by  I suggest he needs to keep an eye on his nose in future but not literally.
The rest of the day goes by incident free but deep down everybody is happy he got it and try to muffle their laughter.
After the session, the chief staff approaches me.
"You need to control your aggression Stringer, it was only supposed to be a light sparring session now we are a man down for next weeks local competition.I don`t suppose you fancy a knock do you?"
"Not in a million years staff I joined the army for a trade and to get away from fighting and to be in the same circle as Evansy  no way."
 "What`s the beef Lance corporal Evans then ?"
"You will find out Staff I can`t see him being a member of your team for long, I don`t see you as having much time for brown nose two faced people."
It`s dinner time or teatime or whatever but needs a bit of tender care to my battered body after a long shower, that will be the NAAFI then.
  Donning my heavy coat as its ramming down with snow I`m off for a couple of pints.
"No cramming then Archie ?big exam tomorrow".
" I can't see the point, Paddy, you either know it by now or you don`t.What are you struggling with anyway?
"It`s this relationship  between the camshaft and the crankshaft that`s confusing me."
"Look at it this way the crankshaft turns push pull  motion to rotating  motion and the camshaft does the opposite."
"You make it sound so easy why can`t the instructors do it in easy terms?"
"Ther`s a bit more to it than that and the civilian instructors have got to sound like superior beings".
"Ok, I will come for a couple of pints with you but only a couple obligatory
"No homework then".
Six pints later and a million question I am beginning to get feeling back into my body.
Basic engine exam over time to move to turbochargers and superchargers.At least this will be new territory for me.
We have a long weekend due us and we all qualify for a train ticket pass so I think I might venture home to see the family as last time was just after Christmas
Travelling to Walsall via train from a sleepy little hamlet in Hampshire in the sixties is a thing of nightmares.
I was looking forward to seeing the family but if this journey is anything to go by it is not going to be very often.
Luckily someone gave me a lift to the nearest mainline station but even that was a ball ache.
Then the chugity ghug at 10 miles an hour stopping at every little station to arrive at Waterloo after an uncomfortable two hours, Was it worth it?
It is dark and travelling through London on the underground tube is a bit of a nerve racking experience.Already the station with various coloured vomit and the stench of urine is overwhelming, and this is our offering to the world of the new business of tourism.
I suppose most of them will not see this part of the city and basque in the splendours of glitzy show town west end and the palaces.
 On arriving at Euston I find I have an hour and a half to wait until my Birmingham connection.
 I think wearing my uniform with this horrible forage cap was a major mistake as eyes are looking from every crook and cranny, have they never seen a soldier before?
Venturing into a dirty little pub I find I am not alone, there are several also frustrated squaddies going through the motions of doubt.
Going home in uniform was my brilliant idea of the family seeing me in my fine regalia, It will be the last time.
The other uniformed people are all the in the same frame of mind.
Changing to civvies is an obvious answer, then I am lumbered with having to carry the bloody thing; just grin and bear it.
The train to Brum is also an ordeal, overcrowded litter strewn and smelly.Not the best start to my long weekend.
One more change then onto God`s country Walsall.
 What a letdown, all the pubs are shut and I have got ten minutes to catch the last bus to Yes I confess  Blakenall a grotty crime ridden hovel on the north side of Walsall, but it`s my home so do not say anything.
Just my luck the house is in darkness and heavily secured, What to do now?
Mom knows I am coming where is she? 
I gently knock the door and wait for someone to respond.
Have you ever had one of those days?
After a few frustrating minutes, mom peeks through the curtain and mouths"What are you doing here?"
A few more minutes and I`m into a slightly warmer environment than outside; but not that much.
"You will have to jump in with Jimmy or kip on the settee."
 Hard to believe I am missing my comparatively luxurious army bed and the heat of radiators.
After an uncomfortable and wet night; He is not called pissy arsed Jim for nothing I start making plans to meet up with the old gang down at the much loved Royal Oak.
The old pals are there as it`s music night and as I said before the sixties is when proper music was normal.
One of our friends has somehow managed to get himself engaged, I`ve only been away a few months, what`s the problem with him?
I think it is a case that the lower brain has taken over from the upper brain.Mind you she is a bit of alright, but engaged after a few weeks, He needs a pep talk.
Walsall are at home on Monday but it is going to be tight if I have to go through the rigorous homeward journey to Bordon.
Did I say homeward?
One of my mate`s dad is a long distant lorry driver and he assures me he is going south later and he can drop me off at Reading station area at about sevenish.Well, that will suit me.
With Walsall getting a bit of a walloping from a lower placed side I`m off to the promised land.
I am already running late with my lift as the driver never mentioned he would be on the pop and barely able to drive.
Forty miles down the road and anxiety steps in, if I don`t take over this lorry we are going to get killed.
I take over the helm and head south.Luckily I had quite a lot of experience driving lorries and I was an HGV mechanic.
Driving them around the haulage yard and driving on the road is a different kettle of fish so after a dodgy two hours, I am exhausted.
 Entering into the suburbs of Reading the relief is very gratifying.
Thanking the driver for his help I make my way to the main station.
The moron who mans the ticket office breaks the news that I need to go to London and take the west bound train to Aldershot and then the bus to beloved Bordon.
Obviously, the last bus to Bordon has gone so it thumbs out and hope for the best.
I pick up a lift to within six miles of the camp and decide as it is freezing to walk the remainder of the distance.
 Finally a bit of luck, a fellow student is going all the way to camp.
Talking to my rescuer I find to my dismay he is just returning to camp from of all places Aston which is a few miles down the road from my home town.If only.
No use in stressing myself out anymore It`s wakey wake time in an hours time.
Well, my relaxing long weekend is a complete and utter waste of time.Herein learneth the lesson avoid Walsall for weekend visits.
I decide not to bother with trains again as a coach service via my camp actually drops off on the main ring road in Walsall, so that's my preferred transport until I can afford to buy a car.
  We are nearing the end of our Bordon experience and it looks like my next destination is a tiny camp bordering on one of the largest military camps in the south of England.
 Yes, it is Army Air Corp base Middle Wallop, which I am informed is by Upper Wallop and Never Wallop or west of Andover.
I have managed to be lumbered with what should be my last Guard duty, but strangely we are equipped with loaded rifles and radios, most unusual.
The guard detachment has been doubled and we are walking around in pairs, very strange.
There is particular emphasis on patrolling the officer's mess.I might get a chance to arrest one of them.
Apparently, we have a small group of Arab and Israeli trainee pilots on camp and there is a bit of bother in the middle east so they are literally at each other's throats.
This little skirmish turned out to be "The Six day war "with the Arabs getting a hell of a pasting with thousands dead to only a few hundred Israeli casualties.
 They have had to be separated for fear of someone being killed and we are the middle men.
The night passes peacefully apart from the obligatory drunk who can fight the world single handed.A night in the cell sorts him out.
Some good news which turns out not to be.
We are summoned to the Adjutants office where we are informed that there are not enough students to start the training course at Middle Wallop so we are to be put on fatigue duties until the next batch of potential technicians catches up in about two weeks.
Now to the uninitiated "fatigue duties" means doing all the unwanted jobs around the camp ranging from ablutions to sweeping roads maybe painting grass green, who knows.
 Time to use the brains to avoid the less desirable work so be first in the queue and get the pick.
Paddy and I are the first two but soon there are fifteen, sixteen behind us. While anxiously awaiting the arrival of the person who is going to put us to work a burly tall Scottish bloke parks his backside in front of me and Paddy.
"Oye the back of the queue is at the other end prat", I inform him.
"I`ll be alright here " chortles the Jock.
"If the rest of them are happy with that fair enough but you ain`t jumping in front of me so fuck off".
After a few heated words, he moves behind me and Paddy.
"I`ll see you later Stringer," says the monster of a man.
"Ok, so you know me so who the fuck are you?"
 "Doig , David Doig , remember that".
"Thank god for that I thought you were going to be Bond, James Bond".
Having a little snigger to my self I jump on the awaiting truck and get dispatched to the armoury where we have a few hours of cleaning and repairing various weapons.
A bit boring and smelly but at least we are indoors and it is belting down with rain; pity the road sweepers. 
Later in the evening sitting in the NAAFI, a booming voice shouts "Oye you ".
Lucky me it`s Doig , David Doig.
"What do you want Jock?"
"I`m going to buy you a pint for having the bollocks to open your mouth, not like the other wimps".
 After a couple of pints, it works out we are on the same course and have similar points of view.
Turns out Doigy my new best mate is completely bald all over stemming from a car accident many years ago, so I assume he has had a lot of mickey takin over the years, which accounts for his hard talk.Mind you I don`t think I would like to mix it with him.
It has been two weeks and it looks like there are enough students to get us onto further training in Middle Wallop.
 With the obligatory passing out parade, we are being extremely scrutinised on our uniforms because one of the things you tend to do with number two dress apart from cutting the forage cap seams is to have the trouser legs tapered from a flappy twenty inch to a reasonable fourteen inch but there is always someone who goes that little bit farther, virtually skin tight.
I feel some corporal measuring my trousers," Twelve inches sarge". "Fall out and report to the guardhouse".
Seven of us have been caught out and beginning to feel aggrieved as most of the senior ranks look like the legendary Max Wall.
I know that Lance corporal Evans has made an effort to point me out, I thought he was past this hatred by now.
 On the way to the guardhouse, we have to pass my dormitory, so the obvious thing to do is nip in change my trousers to untouched trousers and look bemused.
We are all made to stand on a bench in the guardhouse to be remeasured.
"Stringer, who pulled you out of inspection?".
"That would be Evans Sargeant major."
"Get corporal Evans here now."
 Thirty minutes later Corporal Evans in instructed to measure the bottoms of my offending apparel.
"Twenty inches Sir, but I am sure they were twelve".
"Dismissed Stringer, Stay there corporal."
I can hear Evansy getting a big rollicking with talk of being over the top and wasting time.
The squaddies caught with the tapered trousers are forced to buy replacements and show them at the Guardhouse.
It is our last night so we are having a final get together at the bar.
The ones who got caught question how I managed to outwit Evansy again.
"That`s for me to know and you to find out."
"You snakey bastard Stringer, I know it was twelve inches".
"Welcome local acting unpaid lance corporal Evans, Out of you comfort zone ain`t you?"
"Well you won`t have to put up with me after tomorrow and I will be plain old Craftsman, but I need to know why you don`t like me.
"Where do you want me to start?It`s not a matter of me not liking you Nobody likes you."
"Why?"
"Well you are a two faced back stabbing nonchalant big headed twat and a taffy, just to start with."
"What would you do if I called you a sneaky fucker corp?"
" I would put you on a fizzer for insubordination".
"What if I only thought you were a sneaky fucker?"
" I can`t control what you think".
"Well, I think you are a sneaky fucker."
A bright red faced Evans stands up, I think I might be getting a punch here.
"I almost forgot Stringer, Someone taught you to fight dirty so you are in luck this time, but we will meet again."
 "Yes, my little sister taught me and don`t you forget I probably will be a proper corporal so be lucky yourself".
Up nice and early next day with all our kit it is time to move on to proper trade training.
Middle Wallop here I come


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