Spending time in a prison cell

This is part of a recollection of “Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

This describes a time, in my past, long gone. It recounts details in the male gender only,  because that is how it was at the time. Other genders are now available!

Very early on in a service career you learn all about “duties”!

These are necessary tasks that must be carried out, every day, whilst in barracks. These duties are in addition to normal daily routine work.

At the top of the ladder is the Duty Field Officer, normally a Major, or Captain, who performs this duty for a week. They do not have to remain in barracks, but must be available, at all times, to deal with any situation that cannot be handled by a more junior officer.

Next in line is the Regimental Orderly Officer, normally a Warrant Officer, 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant, or Captain. The duty is often given to junior officers as a mild punishment for minor misdemeanours. They carry out the duty for 24 hours, and must remain in barracks for the entire duty so they are instantly available.

Now come the workers.

The Fire Picquet, which normally consists of from 6 to 10 men who are on call 24 hours a day, for a week. They have a couple of practice call outs during the week and have to get to the Guardroom as quickly as possible. Here they are given a fire scenario and have to dash to the point of the fire, hauling a hand drawn cart that contains all the necessary equipment for fire fighting; Hoses, connectors, hydrant keys, nozzles, standing pipes, etc. They then have to spray water on the pretend fire. Job done! It is very tiring, and very wet!

The Regimental Orderly Sergeant organises, and is responsible for, all other duty staff. (Read “normally gets into trouble for anything and everything that goes wrong!”) He parades the Guard at Guard Mount, normally 6pm weekdays, and 9am weekends, and has to perform various other inspections/tasks during the day. For example, he may have to check 6 items of stores in the Cookhouse, 6 rifles in the Armoury, do a stock check of the Corporal’s Mess bar, and visit the Guard, unannounced, a couple of times during the night. It is a long 24 hours where lots can go wrong. He also has to make sure that all bars, on camp, are closed on time and cleared of bodies.

The Orderly Corporal is a general dogsbody. One duty is to be present in the Naafi (Navy, Army, Air Force Institutes) bar at regular intervals throughout its opening hours, and to help the Orderly Sergeant in his duties.

The Guard Commander, normally a Corporal, ensures that the main gate is guarded, that patrols are sent out at irregular intervals, that all buildings are checked for security.

The Guard Second in Command (2 i/c), normally a Lance Corporal, helps the Guard Commander and deputises in any absence.

The Duty Clerk, based in the Headquarters building is there for any administrative tasks required during the night.

The duty driver, used by the Guard Commander for many and varied tasks.

The Guard. Sufficient personnel to ensure that there is cover for gate guards, patrols, and a quick reaction force. They may work 2 hours on 2 hours off, or 2 hours on, 4 hours off, or any other combination, all through the night. They are based in the guardroom and are allowed to sleep during their time off.

Where do they sleep?

NO, not in the cells!

Most guardrooms have a room set aside for resting personnel. It will normally have 4 beds and a table and chairs so meals can be eaten, and sleep can be grabbed in between periods of duty. Any left over bodies can be found on the floor in various corners!

All guardrooms do have cells, normally 4 or 6. Hopefully there will be no occupants because, if there are any prisoners, it creates extra work, and a huge chance of mistakes being made by the duty personnel.

So, we’ve gone through all this information, and still no mention of my spending time in a prison cell. Well, as long as you promise not to tell anyone, here goes.

The Guard Commander, and 2i/c, after midnight, and after the barracks had quieted down, were allowed to split the rest of the night and take turns to sleep.

There were never enough beds for all off duty personnel, and anyway the dedicated rest room was constantly disturbed as people were woken for shift changes. It was, therefore, usual for the Corporal, and Lance Corporal, to sleep in an empty cell. There was a distinct advantage in that they had sole occupation of a room, the light could be turned off, and the door could be closed.

I spent many (not so happy) hours in prison cells. I must point out that none of them were under arrest, or under sentence!

 

 

 

 

Travelling down the Rhine on a duck

In the Summer of 1962, at the age of 14, I travelled to Germany, with the Combined Cadet Force from my school, for a Summer Camp.

It was quite an adventure to get there. We travelled by military steam train, with the carriages being loaded onto the ferry for the channel crossing. It must have been very nearly the last such journey.

We eventually arrived at 2 Division Signal Regiment, in Bünde, West Germany, a Regiment I was later to be posted to as a regular soldier.

2 div.png

The Crossed Keys of 2 Division

 

 

There were still National Servicemen who had been conscripted into the forces for 2 years. These were the last of a dying breed as the last National Servicemen left the armed forces in May 1963.

I well remember that the soldiers took great delight in plying us with beer, probably at our own expense. That Summer, far from home, was the first time that I became extremely drunk, and extremely unwell.

We obviously overdid the cigarettes too. When I returned home I suffered, for a few days, with what was diagnosed as nicotine poisoning!

During our 10 days there we went out on exercise with the Regiment and did all sorts of, what was to us young boys, very exciting things. We helped camouflage vehicles, laid large capacity cables, helped put up radio masts, slept in abandoned barns and spent a day with the German Army.

It was during this “exchange day” that I encountered the DUKW (duck) that was to transport us down the river. (For the technically minded, more information here)

Ten very excited teenagers squeezed into the restricted space at the back and were driven down a ramp, into the water, where we progressed at a very sedate pace for 20 minutes or so, driving back up another ramp to dry land.

dukw

To be honest it was a bit disappointing, certainly not as exciting as the next half hour when we were transported at some considerable speed back up river, sirens wailing, in a fast patrol craft.

We then experienced a German Army lunch, for many, the first ever taste of “foreign” food. Tepid cabbage soup, cold würst, sauerkraut, black bread, and a strange pudding of yogurt. A new experience that was not repeated until it became more commonplace in the UK.

Postscript

In fact the river in question may not have been the Rhine. Memory being what it is, it could have been the Mösel, or even the Wëser. I have travelled on all of these, but, at the time, it seemed to be a very wide, and busy, river.

Part of the series Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t!

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

I had this random thought that I have done a few things in my life that the average person will never experience.  I thought I would write a post entitled:

“Ten things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.” It developed a little like this:

Ten Eleven Twelve Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen Nineteen Twenty things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

I arranged them in reverse alphabetical order, just for the sake of it! Then I thought of an added one, or four. So, here we have:

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

  1. Travelled down the Rhine on a Duck
  2. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay
  3. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter
  4. Spent time in a prison cell
  5. Sat in a Harrier Jump Jet
  6. Rowed in a coxed 4 at sea
  7. Regularly travelled to work by helicopter
  8. Qualified as a helicopter handling marshall
  9. Played bugle and drums in a Cadet Force band
  10. Helped to spy on Russian spies
  11. Helped to open a Playboy Club, with no women, in Bahrain
  12. Handled, and repaired Enigma machines
  13. Gassed hundreds of people, some several times
  14. Fallen out of the top of an oak tree
  15. Driven a tank
  16. Crawled under the Queen’s bed
  17. Crash landed a glider
  18. Been underwater in a submarine
  19. Been inside a radome
  20. Been in the impact area of High explosive shells
  21. Been an unpaid tourist guide
  22. Been totally alone on an island
  23. Been a sound engineer for The Gibraltar Song Festival
  24. Been a cave guide

All of these were achieved before the age of 40 but, if you have a large outstanding bucket list, do not despair, it is never too late!

I must admit that there is an amount of poetic licence involved, but where that is will only be revealed as I expand on each tale.

No state secrets will be revealed during the making of these blogs.

You may be waiting a while!

Spitting image

This morning I was talking to my brother in law about my time in the army. It’s not a thing I do very often. When I do, I recall all sorts of odd facts that have been filed in the back of my memory bank.

This afternoon I saw a youth spitting on the pavement, a filthy, dirty habit I abhor, BUT, it did remind me of something I witnessed as a very young trainee soldier, at the age of 16 or 17.

A couple of lads were marching (we were not allowed to walk!) past the drill square (you stepped onto it at your peril, unless undertaking drill practice). One of them spat onto the square.

Immediately there was a terrifying roar of the Regimental Sergeant Major’s stentorian voice.

“You there! PICK THAT UP.”

And he did!

 

From that idle thought this poem popped

 

My mouth is full of spittle and I care no jot or tittle

I am going to spit it out upon the floor.

As my juices flow I find my spittle starts to grow

and, as time passes there is more and more

I know not why it is but my spittle starts to fizz

It is spilling from my mouth and from my nose

So beware if passing by for I’ll spit right in your eye

as I’m covered all in spit from head to toes!

Dead or Alive?

I always thought, when I was young, I wouldn’t live to forty.

My Mother said I wouldn’t do if I was always naughty!

Yet here I am, a pensioner, exceeding expectation

and, now that I’ve passed 69, I look back with elation. 

 

I never thought that I would be a great success in life.

I only wished to have a job, and, maybe, take a wife.

Well, some successes came along, as husband, and as Dad

and very nicely my whole life has left me rather glad.

 

My Mum, of course, was always right; she often told me so!

Her all surrounding love was great , it gave a warming glow.

She’s now long gone, and so has Dad, and even my big sister.

But memories they linger on, and my, how we have missed her.

 

So, when I wake up each new day I thank my lucky stars.

I’m happy with my wrinkles, and with my many scars.

My Mum was right. She always was, as I’ve already said,

but wait a bit! I just woke up. Well, bugger me – I’m dead!

Handfasting – a poem

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handfasting_(Neopaganism)

Handfasting was very prevalent in the Hebrides, the Inner, and Outer, islands off the west coast of Scotland.

I had the unique privilege of living on St Kilda, a remote archipelago, some 45 miles West North West of North Uist, for several periods, mostly 6 weeks at a time. Stays sometimes proved to be longer, because access is always determined by the weather! In total, I spent some 8 months of my life there.

St Kilda has a strange hold on all who set foot there, rather akin to desert fever for anyone who has experienced true desert.

I follow a page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/St.KildaHebrides/ , on Facebook, dedicated to St Kilda, and, as part of advice being offered to a would be visitor, came across this poem written by Andrew Lane in 2009.

I do not know Andrew but, from what I’ve seen and read, feel that we would get on very well. He is a musician, so this may well have been written to perform. In any case, I hope that you find the poem at least a little interesting, especially those who may know nothing about the Scots, or their unique language.

Andrew has a lovely “lived in” face, and someone commented that it was obviously the result of someone’s advice:

“Smile a lot when you are young so that when you grow older, your wrinkles will all be in the right place”

THE HAND-FASTING

Oh, lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Bring the lassies from the wheel
To spin themselves a proper reel.
Bring the laddies from the loom
To weave a dance beside the groom.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Bring the stoddart from the braes
And leave the hoggie to its ways.
Bring the fisher from the shore;
This man will be a boy no more.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Set your creels upon the ling
And bow the fiddles till they sing.
Take the whistle from your poke
And pipe a tune for dancing folk.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Set the bellyrive aboot,
And spread the meat upon the cloot.
Place the whisky pig beside
And you shall see the hand-fast tied.

Lassie, place your hand on mine, and Alastair will fetch the twine
And bind us at the wrist for aye, for this shall be our wedding day.

Stoddart – a herdsman. Hoggie – a young sheep. Bellyrive – a feast.
Cloot – cloth. Whisky pig – a whisky jar.

©Andrew Lane July 2009

 

A conversation not to be forgotten!

Today I was working in the front garden. I was digging out Grape Hyacinths and Bluebells that are always threatening to overtake every other plant.

A lady stopped to pass the time of day.  She lives fairly close by and I see her often, and wave. Occasionally we have a brief chat.

Today, she greeted me with, “Oh, I didn’t realise that you lived there, so close to me!” She told me that she was Secretary of the local Allotment Society, and how busy that kept her. She also informed me that she had a pacemaker fitted, and how it had given her a new lease of life.

The conversation progressed along traditional lines and then she set off to continue her journey home.

I did not let on that we had had an identical conversation last time she passed by when I was gardening at the front, almost at the same spot.

As she left I said, “I’m Peter by the way!”

She reminded me of her name.

For the life of me, I cannot remember what it is!!

My life #14 – A late Valentine

images-3

Not just a little late, but over 45 years since I first wrote this in a Valentine’s card. I can’t find the copy I wrote at the time but I have remembered it for all these years. Don’t know what that says about me!

It was sent to my long term, off and on, teenage, and into my twenties, girlfriend whom I shall love for ever!

If you don’t see my name, look at it acrostically.

Prolific enterprises turn eventually recumbent. My attribution turns to hieroglyphics, excogitate what’s said!

I was rather pleased with it at the time!

My life #13 – Two fingers and a small vibrator

I was going to call this “Two fingers, a small vibrator, and warm breath on my Willy”, but I thought that might excite some of my readers too much!

Too late! I’ve said it now, and I wholeheartedly apologise to the excitable blogger who likes a lot of cake. He is now lying panting under his desk and will need a large, stiff one to recuperate. I think his choice is Whisky!

I’m sure that all you ladies will agree that there can never be true equality. After all, you have to put up with menstruation, the pain of childbirth and discomfort of breast feeding, with mammograms, cervical smears, menopause, not to mention makeup, hairdo’s, high heels. The list goes on and on.

How can you possibly understand the trials of man flu, the worries of whether our tackle conforms to “average”, whether we could, if we wished, grow a beard or mustache, how to compete with Mr. Grey?

No! There can never be true equality.

I seem to have strayed from my original line of thought, so please bear with me while I give myself a severe talking to!

Right!

A couple of days ago I went to the doctors for a regular appointment and, being a man of a certain age, I was going for a check up of my parts.

By parts I mean PRIVATE parts. You know, the bits down there…………!

Now, it’s not the first time, and it will most definitely not be the last.

I no longer feel totally embarrassed, wanting to hide in a corner, nor do I think “Is s/he comparing me with others?” I do, however, make doubly, triply, quadrupley, sure that I am 100% clean, smell reasonably nice, and that my underwear is colourful enough.

This time I was being checked for sensitivity of the stomach and bowel, any testicular abnormalities, and for prostate irregularities. I’d already had blood and urine test results so was not overly concerned that there were going to be anything nasty to discover.

The doctor was superb and warmed his hands before touching anything. He handled my testicles as if they were the eggs of the last bird on earth. He was very gentle when he found that my prostate was slightly enlarged (which I already knew), but smooth. He gently cleaned up afterwards and I almost expected him to pat my bottom before telling me I could get dressed again.

As I walked away, with a smile on my face, I thought, “Damn – I forgot to take a selfie!”

On a previous check up I had been seen by his wife! Not just a random “Please let my wife feel your balls” kind of appointment. She really is a doctor too!

That experience was vastly different.

I think she was auditioning for the role of a juggler! I’m convinced that she used a pool cue to check my prostate, and the large end at that! When it came to pulling my pants back up, it was obvious that she had failed to wipe away any excess lubricant!

So, that’s the two fingers sorted!

Now we go back in time to the very first really intimate examination I can recall. I forget what age I was, but I was in the Army and, I think, probably in my late 20’s. I was suffering from quite severe hemorrhoids and had been referred to an Army hospital.

The consultant explained what he was going to do and that I would feel a slight vibration, but it should not hurt.

I did – and it didn’t!

I rather felt that, as he inserted the proctoscope and filled it with air, he really ought to have shouted out Wey Hey!

That covers the small vibrator!

There were many times when I had my testicles cupped in a doctor’s hand and was asked to “cough”! That was standard practice when I was a child, and during Army medicals. I was never quite sure what that was supposed to check!

I well remember the very first time I had my testicles fully checked as an adult. This particular doctor was a rather strange individual with a very unusual name. He was very good and had been my doctor of choice for some time. I had eventually plucked up the courage to ask him to check my testicles because I was concerned about tenderness.

He told me that he was going to kneel down in front of me, as that was the best position for him to check me thoroughly. What followed was a little disconcerting. As he gently tested me for any abnormalities I could feel his gentle breathing. It felt very close! I did totally the wrong thing and looked down, only to look straight into his smiling eyes!!!!!

There’s the warm breath!

 If you’ve read this far I do hope that you have not been offended. There is a little humour in all of these situations but the main point, for both men and women, is that we have to check ourselves, and be professionally checked, at regular intervals.

If you’ve neglected self checks, or checks by your doctor, or hospital, sort it out now. It could save your life!