RAF NATIONAL SERVICE 1955 - 57
Bradford Mechanics Instititute. Coir matting in the room corner is suspiciously dark. Others standing there, filling a sample glass, must have been over-generous. I strive for control.
RAF Cardington, processing camp. I receive shirts, underpants, KFS and other oddments but no uniform. At 6 ft 1½ in. I am too tall and must wait for my tailor-made working blues and best blues. I have a mug but the tea is intolerable. I must learn to drink it.
RAF Hednesford, basic training ("square bashing") – see pic. Communal life, 24 to a billet, doesn't suit me and I am detested by my peers. I apply to be an officer in order to have a room of my own but lack leadership qualities. We march on a parade ground with alarming contours, caused by coal-mine subsidence.
RAF Hednesford. Preparing for an inspection I use my bare hand to clean beyond a lavatory U-bend; my effort goes unexamined. In a lecture by the padre, through which many sleep from exhaustion, we are told why Bertrand Russell the philosopher is at fault. I want to argue but I too am exhausted.
RAF Hednesford. Foolishly I argue with a screaming drill corporal and am condemned to clean rancid fat from cooking trays. Thereafter I shovel coal. Coal dust adheres to my fatty overalls and I become a Great Depression caricature.
RAF Hednesford. Irritated by my mouth organ playing six of my peers hold me down while a seventh abstracts the instrument. The abstractor, a puny fellow, comes from Lancashire and I feel no pain as he kicks my shins during the subsequent scuffle. Thrilled by my audacity I overwhelm him and he is forced to return my Hohner.