1949 - 2015
They say the years pass and memories fade, but after reading Martin Thomas's missive, the brain kicked into action, especially after reading the comments about Singapore. So here is the tale of an old and not particularly wise ex - Crap Ap.
Post Cosford I went to that pearl of Lincolnshire, Digby, for the first time - yes some of us were gluttons for punishment as later events will show. 18 months on 591 SU taught me how to drink, who not to play cards with, and to hate every transit block the RAF possessed.
Onto Bahrain in 1967, and a year with the Fish heads and Pongos at JCC Jufair. Ah can I ever forget the sweet smell of camel poo, and stale vomit that seemed to greet every dawn.
An order in SROs asking for volunteers for Singapore (yes volunteers) saw myself and Al Reece appearing at Commcen Singapore in our cardboard KD, being surveyed by the incumbents like men from outer space. But our rough charm soon saw us winning friends and charming the ladies of the various Airmen's relief organisations in Singapore City. Many old 303ites at Changi at the time, including Martin Thomas, Bob Morris and many others. A good tour, which saw me gain 4 stone of Tiger induced weight. So much so my dear old Ma, didnt recognise me when I returned home (well that is her story).
Returning to the UK in 1970 I made my first acquaintance with the world of computing at SCC Hendon. A side line here was having to guard the RAF Museum after the IRA tried to burn it down. How many of you can claim to have had a dog fight in an irreplaceable Sopwith Camel vs an equally irreplaceable Fokker Triplane. Well what else can you do at 0300 in the morning.
1972 saw me in Masirah, where I last saw Gerry Linstead. An exhilerating 9 months, crammed 5 to a 4 man room, with the station Turd Curdler outside our window, and running my own 5 a-side footie team Togo's Terrors (cos the Commcen team the Commstars (blah!!) wouldnt let us play), and drinking frozen Mackeson 'cos that is all there was until the supply ship came in are my abiding memories of this tip.
In 1973, I ended up 80 foot down under Whitehall in the grandly named UK Radio Telephone Control Centre, which was the most boring job imaginable. I opened my mouth and guess where I ended up? 399 SU at Digby - arghhh. To say this was the happiest point in my life would be the understatement of the year. Once was bad enough but another 18 months of rain, spud fields and 399 was enough to drive the sanest man mad.
But every cloud has a silver lining and 1975-1978 saw me at Gutersloh, where I met my missus, had a great 3 year tour, played loads of rugby and obtained a life long addiction to Warsteiner (amongst other alcoholic beverages). Living on a farm with a German family taught me how to speak cod-German, or as one local called it like an Hungarian (cheeky bastard - we still beat them 5-1).
Almost back to my roots during 1978-1980 when I washed up at 9 SU at Boddington. Even more exposure to the wonderful world of computers, even more rugby, and even more booze. A good tour and I was sorry to leave.
1980-1983 saw a return to Germany and Rheindahlen and Hehn. This was a cracking tour, which seemed to flow past in a river of Asbach, Warsteiner, Service rugby on Saturdays, and teaching the Cloggies to play on Sundays. My boss at Hehn was one Sandy Ross. I am sure this name will stir many memories amongst you old Telegs, and everything that was said about this charming gentleman was true. As a brand new Sgt he was an interesting mentor!!!
My last 6 years were spent at Bentley Priory and Uxbridge (with a 4 month holiday in the Falklands) before I retired a somewhat cynical Sgt in 1989. Too many years of secondary duties, scrabbling for assessments that seemed to get you know where finally persuaded me to seek my fortune in civvy st.
In 1989 I joined my current employer P&O Nedlloyd an Anglo-Dutch shipping line, and have spent the last 14 years scrambling up the corporate ladder and being commuter man. In the main it has been good, and I have been fortunate in travelling all over the world with them. But the corporate world being what it is I have been advised that my career has 'plateaued' which is corporate speak for saying you are too old and they are looking to find a way to dump you. Do I care? Not really - with 3 kids 5 grandchildren and a wife who seems to get fitter every year (unlike her old man) I could do with a new challenge.
Look forward to seeing you all in May
03 March 2003
Personal Profile update.
In 2006 after 17 glorious (??) years with Royal P&O
Nedlloyd the company was bought out by its biggest Danish competitor and they
made it quite clear that people who were 55 plus were no longer required. That
being said they made our leaving well worth while, and given I had worked for 41
years without a break I thought ‘sod it’ and retired.
They say you should plan for your retirement and do those ‘things’ you had always intended to do but never found time to do so. To this end I bought a saxophone, learnt to play it and am now arguably the worst alto sax player in the immediate area. Do I care? Not really. I also finished my education and finally put a ghost to bed by gaining an MA in History from the Open University in 2008. The ghost was being told at 11 years old when I failed my 11 plus that ‘Whilst I was a nice boy, I wasn't too bright’. So it only took 48 years to lay this ghost but it was worth it.
I also took up road running (to try and match my multi marathon running wife) and whilst as slow as a snail thoroughly enjoyed it. Two claims to fame. One, I beat Nigel Mansell at Silverstone during a half marathon (yeah!!) and two I set a medical record in completing the London Marathon in 2007 with a haemoglobin count of 7.5. The normal count is 14 and my Haematologist said by all rights I should have expired during the race. However the thought of several pints of London Pride saw me through to the end.
My wife Carole and I have also travelled to places far and wide (Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius) during the past 7 years as the wander bug which brought me into the RAF in the first place ‘I want to see the world’ is still with me.
Sadly my health has been a long interesting trip, with two rounds of cancer, renal failure and heart failure, so it looks as if our travelling adventures will now be confined to weekends in Bognor or Brighton.
Consequently I have now been advised my heart issues are untreatable and it looks as if I will be meeting my maker a little sooner than anticipated. Pissed off - well yes in some respects but in many others no. I have had a good life, met many wonderful people, seen most of the places I wanted to see and am blessed with a wonderful wife, 3 great children and 5 superb grandchildren, so it is churlish of me to complain.
What the next couple of years will bring is in the hands of medical science and my pugnacious attitude to surviving longer that I have been given.
NEVER GIVE UP is my motto in life.
Per Ardua ad Astra.
20 July 2014