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Friday, January 27, 2006

Brrrrrrrrrrrrr (Back To The Future II)

I'm currently busy packing. I'm off soon on a 'Not Quite A Camping Holiday.'

It's not quite a camping holiday because:

  1. There won't be any tents involved.
  2. If there is a camp fire then something has gone horribly wrong.
  3. There won't be a whiff of a "Ging Gang Goolly".
But apart from that it'll be just like a camping holiday - well we'll be living outdoors at any rate. While I'm gone I want everyone who reads this to think nice warm thoughts and send them in my general direction.

It's for things like going on Exercise during the coldest part of the year that my middle name is 'Lucky.' I'm not holding out much hope of winning the £100 million Euro Millions Jackpot this evening.

If I don't:

a. Get caught.
b. End up with no network coverage.
c. Drop my mobile in a puddle.

Then I may consider blogging 'from the field'. It will hardly be Michael Yon but I might give it a go. Oh and if anyone fancies cheering me up then leave a little something in the comments box over the next few weeks.

Ta Ta for now.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I looked down at her lying on the floor.

Right now she wasn't looking her best. Her hair was a mess and even kneeling next to her I could smell the sickly sweet stench of alcohol coming from her mouth.

Ah well - in for a penny in for a pound.

I carefully opened her shirt, running one hand down over her bare breast.

I leaned down towards her.

Our lips met. The alcohol stink was worse now. Our lips joined for a brief moment before I pulled away.

"I don't think I can do this," I thought to myself. I tried again and this time she responded.

A murmur of approval echoed around the room.

"Well done Pte ******."

We were being taught CPR again and I was the first one to try my hand at 'The Kiss of Life' on Annie, as the resusitation doll was affectionately known.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Murphy's Laws For The Army - Number Thirteen

The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Now Have We Got Everything?

"Spanner 3/4 inch."


"Spanner 1/2 inch."


If I could remember how many different items came with a Warrior then I might hold a competition to guess.

A bit like guess how many sweeties in the jar. Well a little bit any rate.

But I can't. Let's just say there were lots of them.

We were back in camp checking our inventory. Our first exercise had finished. We'd learnt lots of exciting things like how to attack from a Warrior, how to defend from a Warrior and most importantly how to make a decent cup of tea at 40 mph cross country.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Service Wash Please

I was wet.

In fact wet was probably an understatement.

It had been raining for two days without a pause but now it had stopped.

There's something particular demoralising about never really drying out but now it looked like we might have a chance.

We'd moved out of our leaguer from the night before and now we were sat on a track waiting for orders.

The engine was ticking over slowly and we weren't going anywhere soon.

Three of us crawled out of various hatches on the Warrior and sat on the front right hand side.

Why there?

Because that's where the engine exhaust louvres are.

If you don't mind stinking of diesel fumes and can cope with a minor case of Carbon Monoxide poisoning then you can get dry in a minute or two.

Funnily enough Mrs Soldier does the laundry in our house.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Keep Your Arms And Legs Inside The Ride At All Times

The back door of a Warrior weighs 3/4 of a tonne.

An hydraulic ram opens and closes it.

The driver has a button to open and close the door.

He can't see into the back.

Keep your fingers out of the way.

No really I mean it.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Tabasco Or Not Tabasco That Is The Question

Living out of a vehicle was very different to living out a rucksack.

When you are living out of a rucksack you took care of yourself. Not in a selfish way but you looked after your own stuff, cooked what you wanted to eat, when you wanted it.

Living out of a Warrior everything was done together. Including cooking.

Now most of the time this just meant that everyone's boil in the bag rations were heated up at the same time. But every once in a while people would get creative.

Which was nice.

Unless your idea of a creative cooking menu goes like this:

Preparation: 5 minutes (less if someone else is opening the packets)
Cooking: 15 minutes (less if you prefer the dish without a 'caramalised crust'.

1 x Lancashire Hot Pot boil in the bag.
1 x Chicken with Pasta boil in the bag.
1 x Corned Beef Hash boil in the bag.
1 x packet 'Biscuits Brown'
1 x packet powdered soup
1/2 bottle Tabasco sauce (yes I did say 1/2 bottle)

1. Mix all ingredients together in pan.
2. Burn to bottom of pan.
3. Serve.

Apparently it was called 'Curry Surprise'.

I suspect the surprise was that it tasted nothing like curry.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Zen & The Art Of Boot Bulling (Back To The Future I)

Today I have mainly been bulling my boots.

There is something oddly relaxing about bulling boots.

To get a perfect shine first of all you have to add layer after layer of polish. Too much in one go and you'll never get a smooth finish. The concentration on a simple but delicate task lets part of the mind drift elsewhere.

And then once the polish is there the real relaxation begins.

A bit of water, some cotton wool and a tiny bit of polish. Tiny little circles, all over the boot.

Lots and lots of tiny circles.

Thousands of them.

And then the first sparkle appears.

Another repetitive, delicate task. It takes time and it's easy to drift off elsewhere.

The satisfaction as the shine deepens, spreading over the boot. Eventually deep enough you can see your face in it.

So what do you think? Will it catch on if I set up a evening class at the local community centre. Find your inner self and clean your shoes at the same time. It's certainly less painful than yoga.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Roll Up Roll Up - All The Fun Of The Fair

Fortunately I wasn't shoe-horned into the back of a Warrior with 6 other blokes.

Oh no - having qualified as the Platoon Signaller I was stretched out in the back by myself.

Travelling cross-country in a Warrior is a strange experience. Sat in the back you have no idea of what's coming next. No opportunity to brace yourself for the next bump. The constant rattle of the tracks and throaty roar of the engine nags away at you. Sat next to the semi-translucent fuel tank you can see the diesel rolling backwards and forwards. The tidal sway of the fuel is enough to make some people sea-sick.

A radio transmission crackles through the headphones. Taking the message down on the pad the pitching and yawing of the vehicles sends the written message scrawling across the page.

Trying to make out my own scrawl in the half-light of the weak red bulb.

A call for a brew from the guys in the turret. 5 minutes and a slightly scalded hand later and the brew is up with the boss.

A stop - the rear door swinging open. Blinded by the light. Smoke a sly fag out of the half-cracked door before we move off again.

Speeding up now as we move into a practice attack. The vehicle slewing this way and that. We hit a large bump and hit the ceiling before crashing down onto the seat again. A comment from someone ringing in my ears:

"Civi's would pay good money for this."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Now If We Put That There Then It Might Fit


Fancy a challenge?

Take 7 fully grown soldiers.
7 sets of webbing and 7 rifles
3 anti-tank missiles
9 sleeping bags
9 soldiers' spare clothes, washing kit and bits and bobs
4 days worth of food and water for 10 soldiers
lots and lots of bits and pieces

And fit it all into a compartent smaller than Mini Cooper.

We were packing for our first exercise with Warrior. Apparently it all fitted.

If you really want to you can have look at the inside of a Warrior you can do here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

You've Got Me Hanging On The Telephone

3 minutes - time taken to walk from room to guardroom.

1 minute - time taken to 'book out' of camp.

2 minutes - time taken to walk to phone box.

1 to 45 minutes - time taken waiting on an empty phone booth.

30 seconds - time taken to phone the Girl With The Red Hair, find out she's not home and could I ring back later please.

The delights of the long distance relationship in the pre-mobile phone era.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

First Night

When I'd been in Northern Ireland I'd gone out very little. Even a 'big' night out ended at 1am when the bars shut.

Boy was Germany different.

7pm'ish - roommate and I crack the first beers of the evening.

7:31pm - start getting ready.

7:38pm - finish getting ready. Spend the next forty-five minutes drinking beer as roommate preens himself in a manner more befitting the female of the species.

8:30pm - hit the NAAFI bar. (Not in a literal sense I might add - that usually happens later).

Spend the next hour drinking beer and playing pool. According to the 'experts' nothing gets going down town till 'later'.

9:45pm - first yawn.

10:15pm - arrive at local German hostellry. Order pint in bestest remembered German phrase. "Sorry love - can't understand a word you're saying," is the reply. Bar staff all Squaddie's wives.

10:42pm - am introduced to the game of 'Nails'. This involves hitting nails into a very large log with the wrong end of the hammer.

10:46pm - first 'Nails' injury of the evening. Still sober enough to recognise that game involving precision, sharp object and large hammer probably best not played when drinking.

11:35pm - second, third and fourth yawns in quick succession.

12:25am - informed by bloke in the know that the night club next door is now open but it's dead in there.

12:36am - venture into nightclub. Bloke in the know was right - more life in a smoked haddock.

01:12am - introduced to the delights of Vodka RedBull (this was the mid 90's and still a new phenomenon at the time).

03:15am - haven't felt so awake in years.

04:00am - dragged out of nightclub by roommate and others 'desperate' to get home.

04:10am - they can't have been that 'desperate' as we are now sat in a German brothel.

04:11am - spurt large mouthful of beer over barmaid after being told the price of a drink. Realise I just coughed the equivalent of fiver over her. Consider asking her if she'll wring her top out into my glass and think better of it.

04:30am - blokes return satisfied. Suspect the ladies were less so.

05:15am - tucked up in bed.

06:30am - maybe I drank a little bit too much RedBull.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Murphy's Laws For The Army - Number Twelve

Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last and never volunteer for anything.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Make Like A Bush (The Sequel)

"Ok - we've got to cam up the wagon."

Camming up a vehicle that is 6.34m long, 3.034m wide and 2.791m high is great fun. In fact it's that much fun that it should be added as an event on the Generation Game. It's almost as much fun as camming yourself up.

The procedure, as laid down officially by the British Army, goes something like this:

1. Take 1 x Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle.

2. Take 1 x camouflage net.

3. Drap camouflage net over Warrior.

4. Prop net up with poles so that it looks like a very large bush.

The actual procedure goes something along the lines of:

1. Try to extract camouflage net from storage bin.

2. Find out that camouflage net has inexplicably turned itself into a rather large knot.

c. Unravel camouflage net.

iii. Drap camouflage net over vehicle.

4. Find out that camouflage net is in a bad mood and decides to get caught on every single nut, bolt or other protuding object.

5. Finally get camouflage net up.

6. Find out that you only have the required number of poles to make vehicle look like half a bush.

7. Find out that camouflage net is not actually in a bad mood but is just feeling unloved.

8. Camouflage net in a desperate bid for attention ties itself around all of the buttons on your jacket and trousers.

9. Escape from psycho-camouflage net.

10. Admire the efforts of the last thirty minutes.

11. Admit that Warrior looks nothing like a large bush. In fact Warrior looks like Warrior with camouflage net on it.

12. Make a brew.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Put The Kettle On

Do you know what the best thing about the Warrior fighting vehicle, apart from it making you feel like a real man, is?

Perhaps the 30mm Rarden Cannon capable of firing Armour Piercing or High Explosive Rounds.

Maybe the 8 smoke dischargers fixed the front - just what you need to get you out of a tight spot.

Or even the seven soldiers it will fit in the back - perhaps not in Vauxhall Zafira style comfort - but ready to deploy at a moments notice.

No - the best thing about the Warrior Fighting Vehicle.

The built in kettle. Hot water at the flick of a switch - almost. Cups of tea - morning, noon and night. Although making tea at 50 mph across rugged terrain is kind of interesting. And pop your 'boil-in-the-bag' dinner in and it will be ready before you can say 'Jamie Oliver'.

So there you go. Next time you are lying in your beds quaking at the prospect of the country being invaded by the 5th Shock Army you can rest assured that those sworn to protect you will be well fed and watered.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Penis Extension

If a swanky car makes a chap feel like he's got a bigger cock then a Warrior Fighting Vehicle makes him feel like he's Ron Jeremy.

With its' sleek lines, throaty engine and ground trembling tracks it is a truly impressive beast.

(Watch out Clarkson I'm after your job.)

Oh and if you drive it fast enough and hit the right bump you can get 'air' a la Dukes of Hazzard.

Our move to Germany had also seen our unit change role to that of Armoured Infantry.

Which was great because it meant we wouldn't have to walk anywhere anymore.

And for any geeks out there if you go here you actually look around inside a Warrior.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Home Sweet Home

It didn't take long to settle into my new room*. All my belongings fitted into one large cardboard box and a rather hefty suitcase.

I'd been lucky with my room. I was only sharing with one other guy this time and we had an en-suite shower and toilet. Very posh I thought.

The barracks itself was quite interesting. It had belonged to the SS during the war and had been taken over by the Brits in 1945.

The buildings were suitably Teutonic in bearing and all had the deep cellars loved by the German people.

Apparently there had been a large tunnel complex under the barracks that had been used to avoid the bombers during the war.

During the latter stages of the war this had flooded. In 1945 four army divers were sent to investigate the flooded depths. Only one returned and he was gibbering wreck who was eventually consigned to a lunatic asylum.

Well that's what we were told.

* For those of you slightly confused - this all happened a long time ago. Shortly after I'd met the Girl With Red hair - and a long time before we got married.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Leaving On A Jet Plane II

The wheels touched down with a more than average jolt.

The RAF might be fantastic at pin-point bombing and nap-of-the-earth flying but Virgin Airlines didn't have much to worry about.

Even the sandwich box served by a surly member of the cabin crew hadn't been up to the usual RAF standards. The sandwiches were stale and the crisps were of the 'Aldi wouldn't touch these with a barge pole' variety.

In fact you could have been forgiven for thinking for a moment or two that it was an army sandwich box.

Until of course you realised that they had at least defrosted the sausage roll.

But now the flight was over.

We'd landed in a foreign country. It was going to be home for the next 5 years.

And I didn't speak a word of German.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Moving On Up

Apparently moving house is the most stressful thing you can do.

Or maybe that was marriage - I forget. Anyhow it's up there with the best of the seriously stressful occasions.

So imagine the fun and high jinks of moving nearly 700 soldiers - a quarter of them with families - from one country to another.

In a couple of weeks.

I don't actually remember much of the move. Just that we were ridiculously busy. Not only moving but handing over our duties to the incoming unit.

I do remember a crazy three day period when I got the grand total of 6 hours sleep.

In some ways I was going to miss Northern Ireland. In other ways I couldn't wait to be rid of the place.

Things I was going to miss:
  • The people - some of them are the most friendly people you'll meet.
  • The countryside - it's a beautiful place.
  • The girl with the red hair - we'd only just met and now I was off.
Things I wasn't going to miss:
  • The people - some of them are the worst bunch of idiots you'll meet.
  • Stagging on - sangar bashing is truly soul destroying.
  • The beer - Harp lager just didn't have anything going for it.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

A very Happy New Year to everyone - may it bring to each what they really need, not what they think they need.

New Year's Resolution.

Try not to get shot at or blown up.

I managed to keep that one last year - unlike the 'must drink less' resolution. Top of the British Blogs