I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Friday, 5 July 2013

Gosh, I was so lovable

Colin Shindler's book, National Service, said to be a Sunday Times best-seller although I find this hard to believe, is taking me back past my youth, almost to embryonic time: the two reluctant years I spent in the Royal Air Force.

I've posted about this, how I was force-fed electronics which benefited me if not the monarch I ostensibly served. The RAF also showed I was not fitted for communal life. That I hated my fellow men en masse and they - with good reason - hated me.

Two fights developed out of this mutual antipathy. Given I was an unhealthy scribbler, I surprisingly won both of them. But there's a better example of my lack of gregariousness. During technical traning, which lasted eight months, the other trainees had a whip-round to buy a billet radio. I refused to contribute. "But you'll be able to hear it. Not paying your bit is unfair," someone pointed out.

"Hearing it will be my burden," I replied. "It will always be tuned to pop music."

When we'd finished, having passed nearly thirty exams, the others wanted to celebrate their new JT stripes in a group photograph. I refused to join them.

During basic training (square bashing), desperate for a room of my own, I applied to become an officer. I claimed I wanted to lead men but the interviewing officer saw through me. Flustered at the end of our tete a tete I contrived to salute him before donning my beret. He pointed out this solecism and I remained an erk. The anti-mass tendency remains. Faced with a fortnight in Blackpool I'd rather open my veins.

3 comments:

Joe Hyam said...

We used to listen to the Goon Show on the billet radio. Every one was willing and joined the cluster round the speaker.

Avus said...

One of the (retrospective)advantages of National Service for this fairly solitary country boy was that I had to mix with others from all over the country, from all walks of life. This was good for me and brought me out. I gained experience of my fellow man.
Since we were all comrades in adversity we constructed a shared method of getting along together, whatever our personal feelings might have been. We even helped the more weak amongst us to deal with what must have been a traumatic experience for them.
I am so glad that the young prig you describe (and who, I am sure, does not compare to the present R.R.)was not a member of our barrack room!

Roderick Robinson said...

Joe: In fact our billet radio was also used for the Goon Show. In order to maintain my rather dubious moral stance I made a point of not standing anywhere near the radio when this was happening.

Avus: Gaining experience of my fellow men was what I had had to leave behind (ie, in journalism) to join the RAF. So I can't say billet life "brought me out" - in fact, many of my comrades in adversity would have said what I needed was something that would shove me back in.

But as usual I find myself hung up on a word. Whereas most of my aforementioned CiAs would have agreed that no fire would have been too hot to correct me of my anti-social behaviour, no gallows too high, no well too deep, I doubt that any of them would have identified me as a prig (ie, somebody who is excessively self-righteous or affectedly precise about the observance of proprieties). I wasn't seeking to proselytise, only to separate myself from the herd. What the RAF seemed to threaten was my sense as an individual; in fact square-bashing was organised with this in mind.

And I fear your good-heartedness has got the better of you when you assume that I've got over these defects. Blogging has allowed me to spread them round the world and I am regularly reduced to apologising for them or contemplating with sadness yet another cyber-relationship as it bites the dust.