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Friday, December 30, 2005

Spring Cleaning

As we moved into early January it was back to work with avengence. And with a little something added extra.

Apart from the usual patrolling and guarding that had become second nature over the past two years we now had the added bonus of cleaning everything.

In a few weeks we were to leave Northern Ireland for foreign climes and the camp had to be cleaner than it had been when we'd arrived before we could hand it over to the next unit.

I've never quite understood this passion for cleanliness.

Cleanliness I can understand. It's hygenic, looks good and gives the blokes something to do when there's nothing to do.

But cleaning every mark from linoleum, scrubbing walls, applying a high gloss to the sides of LandRovers and polishing their tyres was slightly beyond me.

I'm fairly confident that most of the work we did wouldn't be noticed by the incoming unit but it was done nevertheless.

It also left very little time for seeing the girl with red hair.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

That's What Friends Are For

Did I get caught and go to jail?

Errm - no.

As 'romantic' as it might have been it probably would have spelt the end for me and the future Mrs Soldier.

I only had four weeks left in Northern Ireland and if I'd spent those four weeks in the camp nick then things might have been very different.

Fortunately my friend was on duty that night. He could have been bust (reduced in rank) for covering up for me. But he did.

I like to think I'd have done the same.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jailhouse Rock

Back to work. Well sort of. If we weren't on duty over the Christmas period then we were left to our own devices.

This meant I got to see quite a bit of the girl with red hair.

I got to walk back to her house - getting increasingly nervous at the number of murals and painted kerbstones in her estate.

I got to meet her family - and make a suitable impression on them.

And then it happened.

A night out. A few drinks. A comfortable sofa.

That's right - we fell asleep.

And I missed the curfew.

Oh shit.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Stand Down

While you are all enjoying your turkey spare a thought for the thousands of lads and lassies who are deployed on operations over Christmas.

I'm 'standing down' for a bit over Chrimbo.

Here's raising a glass to you all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stood Up?

A mass of red hair was approaching me again. I'd waited the two hours. I was just finishing my third pint as she walked in.

Hmm would she notice I'd had a couple?

Not likely. The future Mrs Soldier had had 'a few for her nerves' while she'd been getting ready.

So there you go one and all. Happy Ever After.

Well not quite.

Two months after Christmas my unit was moving to Germany.

Talk about bloody timing.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Patience Is A Virtue

After the success of the night before I was now stood nervously in a pub in Northern Ireland.

The night before had finished with a kiss by the taxi rank, while her friend looked on disapprovingly.

Earlier, after a fortifying pint of Harp, I'd rung the number that she'd scrawled on a cash machine stub the night before - hoping beyond hope that I'd read the numbers the right way.

I'd read the numbers the right way but she wasn't there. Someone was though - her mother - just what a bloke wants when he's almost crapping himself already anyway.

Mother had passed on a message and another phone number and eventually I'd reached her at her friend's house. We'd agreed a time and a place.

After the trauma of the phone calls I'd caught a cab into town with a couple of mates although they were going elsewhere.

When I'd arrived in the pub I was fifteen minutes early - better to be the first one to arrive I thought.

Forty Five minutes later and I was nervous. Maybe she wasn't coming. Second thoughts perhaps.

So I ask you - the audience - how long should a fella wait?

Answer tomorrow. (And this time it will be tomorrow).

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Friend Fancies You

A mass of red hair was approaching me.

'Oh s**t is she coming to talk to me,' I thought.

I agree not the most romantic of thoughts. I really really did want to talk to her but I didn't know what to say.

Neither of us can remember (and we've been wracking our brains) as to what she did actually say. My reply was the highly original (I feel a Nobel prize for literature coming on already) - 'Can I get you a drink?'

To my surprise, and now to her eternal disgust, she declined. Neither of us can really remember what we chatted about. The fact that earlier someone had spilt a drink and she had sat in it came up. She even stood up and showed me her bum without me asking. I remember that one at least.

The one thing that never, ever, ever came up in conversation was that originally she'd come over to ask me if I fancied her friend.

In her own words - "I got there and forgot what I'd come for."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Are You Looking At Me?

I'd pretty much given up going out for a drink in Northern Ireland. I was fed up with getting knocked back by bouncers or pretending to be something I wasn't.

The QRF commander insisted though. Everyone who had worked Christmas Day was going out for a drink together. Some of the guys were busy on Boxing Day so we agreed on the night after.

To be perfectly honest I couldn't really be arsed. The town we were going to didn't have the best nightlife in Britain and it was going to cost a small fortune in taxi fares. But Jonah, the QRF commander insisted.

So togged up to the nines there I was. Stood by the bar with a couple of mates. The beer was flowing fine, the music wasn't too bad and there was plenty of 'scenery' to admire.

And then 'something' caught my eye. The 'something' was a mass of long flowing ginger hair. The 'something' was attached to a small but otherwise perfectly formed young lady. The young lady happened to be looking at me.

Now I've always been a bit shy with the ladies. In fact to be perfectly honest I'd rather storm machine gun nests single handedly than go up to a woman and introduce myself.

Hmmm - what to do next?

The next hour was spent exchanging increasingly frequent glances at each other.

'What was she thinking,' I wondered. Various options crossed my mind - the most obvious, to my mind at least was 'Is that creep still looking at me?' The 'I hope that cute guy is still looking at me' option was quite low down on the list.

And then it happened. She started walking to the toilets. To do so she had to pass me. As she got level it happened.

She stuck her tongue out at me.

Slightly at a loss as to what to do next I did the only thing I could think of.

I stuck my tongue out at her.

*Duff Duff Duff - and cue Eastenders theme music*

Part II 'soon'.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yo Ho Ho.

So what was Christmas Nineteen Ninety Whatever like?

Well we were the Quick Reaction Force for the day. Ready at a moments notice to deploy to wherever, to do whatever to whomever.

We drew our weapons from the armoury and retired to the building we'd be housed in for the duration.

Awaiting us was several tea bombs of Gunfire - apparently not everyone had partaken of the tradition.

It was probably a good job that nothing happened on that day that required a quick response. Despite my earlier reservations several mugs of gunfire disappeared throughout the morning.

You might think that a Christmas day at work, away from family would be depressing. You'd be wrong.

We had a laugh. We'd decided on Secret Santa a few weeks before. Santa had decided that a copy of Razzle was in order - perhaps not quite what mother might have bought but it's the thought that counts.

We ate together, watched the Queen's speech together and then some crap movie that I can't remember. It could have been crap but I was amongst my mates and we all enjoyed it.

Little did I know what was in store for me. In 48 hours I was to meet the future Mrs Soldier........

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

You've Got Mail.

Yay - my letter to Class 1b and Slaminsky has finally arrived. The children have asked some questions back so here are the answers:

Has he been to Antartica/Bangladesh/Africa/America/Spain?
Antartica - no but I've been to some snowy mountains in Germany before.

Bangladesh, Africa and Spain - no but I hope to in the future. America - yes but only for one day :(

Did he make a snowman? (question related to being in cold snowy places!)
No - but we did make a snow cave (like an igloo) and sleep in it overnight.

Has he been in the jungle?
No - but hopefully I will get to go soon. A lot of the army get to go to Belize where there is rainforest.

Has he been to the zoo in a different country?
Yes - when I lived in Germany I went to a zoo there. I couldn't understand what the chimpanzees were saying there.

Does he play football?
Yes but not very well. When I do I'm a goalie.

Does he paint pictures?
No - and I refer all readers to the answer about the pictures on here.

Does he have a gun?
The army lend me a gun when I need it. The only guns I have at home belong to Action Man and my son.

Does he have a sword?
No - but some soldiers do. Especially the ones you see in London.

Does he have a motorbike? (these last 3 questions from the boys...)
No - but I used to have my own little tank. Well not quite my own but you know what I mean.

If any adults have any questions then fire away!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gunfire For Breakfast

I rolled over in my narrow army bed pulling the duvet over my head. I'd already taken a peek and Santa hadn't left a stocking at the end of my bed. God I felt awful. Santa might not have been but I had a sneaking suspicion Rudolph might have left a little 'present' in my mouth. If he had he'd definitely kicked me in the head on the way out.

"Yo ho ho. Merry f**king Christmas."

I obviously wasn't the only one awake in the room. We'd spent the previous night in the NAAFI bar. We were on duty and we'd decided it wouldn't be a good idea to go for a big night out. Apparently it had been a good idea to drink 8 or 9 pints of Harp however.

I checked my watch. Good - another hour or two before I had to drag my sorry arse out of bed and head for the armoury.

There was a rap at the door, followed by a small delegation entering the room.

"Morning chaps."

Great- the Company Commander. Just the sort of thing you want when you are severely hungover.

"Just a little treat for you."

The CSM had followed him into the room carrying a tea bomb (a 20 litre flask type thing). Cracking the lid open the smell of cheap rum permeated the room. Polystyrene cups of something resembling tea with rum in it were handed out.

Maybe, just maybe, on another occasion this would have been welcome. I'm sure a decent cup of tea with a decent shot of decent rum in it is no bad thing. But weak army tea with cheapest possible rum was not exactly what the doctor ordered for a hangover. Still tradition is tradition and gunfire on Christmas morning is traditional.

"Merry Christmas chaps," the Company Commander volunteered as he departed.

As the door clicked shut a quiet chorus of "Aye Merry f**king Christmas to you too, Sir" echoed around the room.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Who'd Have Thought It?

I was looking for an image to fool around with for todays post. Who'd have thought that if you type 'Trafalgar' into Google Image search that you find this as the the number two image.

Can anyone beat that?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Murphy's Laws For The Army Number - Number Eleven

Professional soldiers are predictable; the world is full of dangerous amateurs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas 199*

Christmas 199* saw my battalion still in Northern Ireland. Our Christmas dinner wasn't served in the trenches and it wasn't even served on Christmas day. A lot of the battalion were returning to blighty for Christmas leave so dinner took place in early December.

One thing our Christmas dinner had in common with that of the Second Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers was that the officers and senior NCO's served the men. This is a fine tradition that probably dates back to when Chieftan was a rank and not a tank.

This is also the only possible occasion in the year when you can ask the Commanding Officer to "not be shy with the turkey my good man" and get away with it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas 1916

Christmas 1916 saw the Second Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers in the trenches on the Western Front. They did however manage Christmas dinner.

Dinner for the men was:
"soup; roast meat with potato, carrort, turnip and onion; plum pudding; an apple, or orange, and nuts. The sergeants had whisky, port and cigars."

Dinner for the officers was:
"pate de foie gras, julienne, curried prawns, roast goose, potato and cauliflower, plum-pudding, anchovy on toast, dessert; Veuve Cliquot, port, cognac, benedictine; coffee."
taken from 'The War The Infantry Knew - 1914-1919' by Captain J.C.Dunn.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Vote For Joe (Or Me If You Like)

Seeing as it seems to be awards day today I thought I'd jump on the 'vote for me' bandwagon. I'm not in the 'prestigious' Weblog Awards 2005 like this lady or this one . Oh no sir'ee I'm over at the far more serious Milbloggies - battling it out with my fellow soldiers.

So report for duty and vote for me (go on you know you want to).

Sunday, December 04, 2005

D . I . S . C . O

With Christmas leave rapidly approaching it was time for the 'All Ranks Do'. This is the time honoured tradition of putting everyone, regardless of rank, in one place - adding copious quantities of alcohol and sitting back to watch the fun and games.

Army functions are usually separated by rank.

The Officers will have a 'Ball' - spending lots of money on overpriced marquees, overpriced wine and the occasional naff tribute band.

The Sergeants and Warrant Officers have a similiar function but they spend their money more wisely. Nothing like a bit of Sumo Wrestling to make for a good night.

The Junior NCO's and privates have no money to spend on entertainment so they just get lashed.

The All Ranks Do is therefore a unique occasion. Young Officers have to meet and make conversation with the spouses and girlfriends of their troops - always good for a giggle. Sergeants spend the whole night looking anxiously at their troops - hoping beyond hope that it won't be Private Jones who, after eight pints of Stella, decides to tell the Company Commmander exactly what he thinks of him. And most of the young soldiers - partnerless for the evening - stand around looking bored and waiting to get down town on the pull.

If I remember rightly the tally for that years All Ranks Do (colloquially known as the All Ranks Punch Up) was something along the lines of:

1 broken marriage.
1 broken nose.
2 undiscovered (well by the husbands at least) infidelities.
2 smugly happy but slightly concerned they might get found out soldiers.
645 very hungover soldiers.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Whirlycopter Thingumijig

The hand reached into the bag and pulled out the first name. Bugger - it wasn't mine. Another name was called. Only one chance left.

And then in a Charlie-finding-the-golden-ticket moment I heard my name called.

I was going on a helicopter ride.

To begin with I thought this was karma making up for the incident with the dog earlier in the week. I was soon to find out I was wrong.

This wasn't the first time I'd been in helicopter but it was the first time I'd been in a Gazelle. The Gazelle is not the most impressive helicopter. In fact it looks like the sort of the thing you might buy for Action Man at Toy 'R' Us. It consists of one rather large plastic bubble, a couple of pieces of metal nicked from a mechano box and an engine.

It was during the pre-flight briefing that I first began to get second thoughts.

"Be careful what you touch - you might put your hand right through the metal."

This was followed with what to do if the engine stopped. As far as I can remember the 'what to do' consisted of putting your head down between your legs and kissing your arse goodbye - or something like that.

It was just after we'd put our headphones on that it happened. The pilot asked if any of us had any questions.

"Yeah - have you ever made anyone airsick," one of the other lads asked.

"No - I haven't."

"Bet you can't."


Half an hour later and feeling rather green we got out of the helicopter.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Murphy's Laws For The Army - Number Ten

The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:

1. When they are ready.

2. When you are not. Top of the British Blogs