21 Nov 14
In Oct/Nov I spent nearly three weeks back home and did lots of cooking; however, it turns out that cooking is a perishable skill as witnessed by the fact that on the first day I burnt the bacon and then the toast. The toaster is automatic, so you know it takes a special kind of person to cock that up.
I travelled back to the UK with Craig and I decided to spoil us by using First Class on the ferry. I spent 24 pounds for a couple of 3-packs of biscuits, an apricot pastry and some of the worst coffee I have had in a decade. FYI – First Class on a ferry is not the same as first class on an aeroplane, even Ryanair would have been embarrassed.
During the three weeks I have been home I have been forced to trim my beard twice, this isn’t because I want to, but rather because I have to; it gets to the state that when I eat, the bristles get in the way and it gets messy. In the bathroom is a cordless trimmer which I decided to use, and afterwards when I’d finished and went downstairs Matthew pointed out that was the strimmer he used for shaving his testicles. Fantastic – I’ve now officially rubbed my son’s pubic hair all over my face!
As I mentioned in the last letter I went shopping for trousers to wear to Paris, what I didn’t mention is that I did actually buy some, but I made a mistake, I bought hipsters, mainly because they were about the only pair in the shops that fitted me. The thing about wearing hipsters when you are a large man, is that your belly hangs over them and keeps pushing the bloody things down, so I have to walk around all day holding in my stomach, which is exhausting, so anyway, long story short, it’s November and I’m still wearing shorts everywhere.
During my leave I have bought a new car, a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso. It’s massive and seats seven people and I have no idea why I bought it, after all I don’t even have six friends to fit in the other seats. I think maybe I wanted a car that was of a size to compete with the Yanks I work with, who all seem to have very large cars, MPVs or trucks (insert your own joke here about compensating). Mine is typically European, its diesel and only has a 1.6 *litre engine in it, the Yanks all have petrol and the average size seems to be 3.5 litre, yet we all drive at the same speed. Although, according to Hollywood most Yanks are serial killers and so in all fairness they can probably carry more bodies in theirs.
I have discovered two different sexual practices this week, one from the USA and the other from Africa. The first from America is called Soaking and involves laying there with your willy inside a woman and then not moving at all. You both just lay there and talk about whatever comes up; but, and this is important, you absolutely don’t move. This apparently is allowing young Mormon** men and women to get around the ban on having pre-marital sex.
The not moving part I get, all the jigging around causes me to spill my drink; but I don’t understand how it gets around the ban on pre-marital sex as by its very nature the female is no longer a virgin and secondly, it involves penetration. I bet Bill Clinton would have loved to have heard about this one back in 1995.
The African sexual practice that I have heard about is from Christie, it’s called kunyaza; this is practiced by the men of the Congo and Burundi area and it’s where if you don’t want to have full intercourse the male uses his wang to rapidly tap the clitoris of his partner until she has an orgasm, in other words he uses his willy to beat his partner’s privates while masturbating. This is definitely a practice unique to African men as there is no way my todger is either long or tough enough to take that kind of punishment.
Mormon Soaking involves laying still and doing nothing but talk about the weather, dinner or what’s on TV; guess which I prefer?
One of the blokes working here has left the RAF and is now working as a civvy on the base, and once he had been accepted for the job he had to go for a medical check-up, part of which is a prostrate exam, several days later when talking about it he was still a bit passionate about the experience, I guess the doctor had unusually large fingers. We spend millions every year on new technology, and still the best tool for detecting Prostate cancer is a man sticking his finger in your bum.
Thought for the day:
The number of people who come visiting you in your room is in direct proportion to how smelly you have just farted.
What she said: Can you lemonade this?
What she meant: Can you laminate this?
I’m off for three weeks over Christmas, let’s see if I can drink less than I did in Oct/Nov.
That’s it for now.
*For the Yanks – Litre is the correct spelling, not Liter.
**Not Moron, which my mum used to call them, although that said, this practice does call their intelligence in to question.
Sep – Oct 14
More waffle from the blunt edge of my boring life; although that said, the past few weeks have been quite traumatic for me as I have been ill again. I have been put on statins (Brand name – Simvastatin) and the negative side effects include (for 1 in 10000) rashes, skin crawling, tingling, itching and muscular pain. But when the negative side effects piece of paper says the above, it does not do justice to amount of pain I have been in.
I woke up at about three on Monday morning and thought my skin was being feasted upon by, at least, a million fire ants or freakishly large mosquitoes, or something. The pain went all the way from my ankles to my scalp, but seemed to enjoy paying particular attention to my groin area/to the inside of my upper thighs and testicles.
The tingling/biting kept me awake for the rest of the night, and I spent the whole time scratching myself all over. When I went to brush my teeth the next morning I realised my fingers were covered in blood, but I couldn’t immediately see from where it had come from, but by using a hand-held mirror with a torch showed that my inside thighs were all scratched and bloody and also a pair of sad looking, blood covered balls.
Anyway, top tip, when trying to get a closer look at the damage, use cold water and kitchen towels, do not liberally rub on alcoholic hand gel on to your abraded sack and thighs. Even when finally brushing your teeth five minutes later you still have tears in your eyes, widely spread legs, a fan behind you blowing cooling air up your arse, and a feeling of roasted nuts – I swear I feel them cooking!
So anyway, long story short, no more statins, I would rather have intact genitals and a short life span, than a long life and sandpapered testicles. The positive side is that it really curbs the old nail-biting habit, the thought of putting one of my digits in my mouth when a couple of hours ago they were covered with bollock blood makes me slightly nauseous.
I spent Monday and Tuesday at work constantly scratching myself, at one stage while using the door frame to do my back, I looked like Baloo the bear from Jungle Book. Realising that I really did need the skin to stay on my body I went to see the doctor and was given Anti-Histamines; these did work in that they stopped the itching. Problem was the itching was replaced by almost total body pain in what seemed to be every bit of muscle tissue and joint I have.
Part of what I am suffering from is called rhabdomyolysis, it’s where your muscle tissue dissolves in to your bloodstream, and it’s excruciatingly painful. I couldn’t drive as the pressure of the steering wheel and gear stick was too painful for my hands and fingers, and when I was taken to the hospital, I couldn’t even undo the seatbelt as it was too painful to press the release button. Walking was like having broken glass in my knees and feet.
I then lost all feeling in my hands and fingers and spent what like seemed to be most of Tues night/Weds morning lying in bed massaging them to get a semblance of feeling in to them. I was off Weds as I couldn’t put pressure on my feet or knees; my shoulders were too painful to move, it felt as though I had been hit by a truck, the right shoulder was particularly bad as I was unable to use my arm at all and walked around with it held close to my body like a T-Rex arm.
You try having a shower and washing your hair or cleaning your armpits with only one arm, even with the pain you start laughing at yourself at how useless you are. Getting dressed took more than double the amount of time due to not being able to use my right side.
I was taken to the hospital on Fri morning for another battery of blood tests, which is when they decided I had a mild case of rhabdomyolysis, but not to worry, you’ve stopped the medication and it’ll now work itself out. Here’s a prescription for Tramadol, Paracetemol and Electrolytes and take it easy and all will be okay, but it turns out that this is really Doctor speak for “You will continue to be in a great deal of pain for the next few days, so here’s some pain killers to make it a bit more bearable.”
Anyway, moving on. Christie and I received invitations to a retirement ceremony for a USAF Master Sergeant, and as you may have picked on before the Yanks do things a bit different to the Brits when it comes to promotions, so why would things be different for a retirement.
The christian name of the MSgt was Shaquita, and for the ceremony she had family and friend come over from the USA and from across Europe. The set up was like a wedding with all the personnel seated on either side of a central aisle, and when the ceremony started her boss marched down the aisle like a proud father.
At the front was a podium and the American flag and another flag, I didn’t notice what. One of her friends who had travelled in from America acted as master of the ceremonies and dominated the room from her place behind the podium. Seated on the front row was her daughter and mother; Christie and I sat wherever we could make ourselves unnoticeable.
Once she was in the correct place at the front, another USAF lady played the American National Anthem on a flute and as she did so, all the Americans swivelled to face the American flag and stood to attention, Christie and I just stood there feeling awkward.
Once the National Anthem was finished the Master of Ceremonies said a prayer thanking god for protecting and guiding Shaquita for the past 23 years. She was then presented with a last medal for outstanding service, and then her boss gave a 10 minute speech about how awesome she was and about where she had deployed.
This was followed by some letters of commendation for her outstanding service, one of which was signed off by the President of the USA. Her mother and daughter then pinned a Veterans badge to her for her to wear every day showing people that she had served.
Two USAF airmen then slow-marched in and carried out a flag folding ceremony in front of her and presented her with the flag; not sure if she got to keep it though! Her boss then read out her Retirement Order and she was then presented with a Shadow Box containing a folded American flag and all the awards she had been awarded.
Her friends and daughter then gave speeches on how great she was, and they had put together a lovely video of her friends and family who couldn’t make it, all saying best of luck for the future, and this was followed by a very nice buffet and drinks.
Shaquita is a single mother and has served for the same length of time as me, but during this time she has been deployed away for approx. 52 months, that’s over four years away from her daughter – and I though the Brits had it bad.
Christie, who was born in Burundi but brought up in Belgium, has told me that in Africa people like her are called Bounties. This is after the well-known chocolate coconut bar; it means she is black on the outside, but white on the inside, and it means she has been educated to western standards. Personally, I think it means she’s just bossy, but it’s good to see that bigotry isn’t just a white trait.
As I am going to Paris in Oct, a friend and I went to a shopping outlet in Roermond to find a pair of trousers suitable for visiting the Moulin Rouge, this is because I only own Suits, jeans or shorts. After about an hour of wandering around touching things, we realised that the largest size we could find of trouser/chinos/slacks/jeans was size 38 and in one case a size 40. We approached one of the saleswomen and asked her if she had anything in size 42 or larger. She looked me up and down, turned her nose up and said “We do not do extreme sizes here.” – Bitch
Update on above paragraph – Went to Paris for the weekend and had a nice time but I went with my sister who doesn’t comprehend that to visit the tourist attractions you have to get up early, after all the early bird gets there before the Asian Tourist; outside of a Pacific-themed war film I have never seen so many Japanese, clearly the recession is over in the Far East.
One of the things I noticed about Paris is that French women are really attractive, even the ones who do not pluck or shave, which possibly calls in to question my sexuality.
On the return journey I discovered a new breed of people, they are the Leprous Weasels (LW) who when road-works close off the fast lane and make it go from 3 to 2 and give you 1500 metres warning, leave it to 1490 metres before trying to cut in, these LW’s cause the traffic jams, not the road works, and they are not confined to a single nation, they come from Germany, France and Belgium, it’s like a drab version of a rainbow coalition of selfish twats. I mentioned what I thought of this selfish behaviour to my boss, a German officer, and his reply was “But I do that.” At that statement I ended the conversation and offered him a coffee.
I have just spent four days with a red headed young man called Craig who is one of mine and Matt’s friends, we spent the time walking the battlefields around the Brunssum area. It needs to be pointed out that Craig is trying to grow his sideburns and is going for the whole mutton-chop thing, he looks a bit like a ginger wimpy version of Wolverine; at first glance you think his face is badly scarred, but when you get up close it is in fact scraggly pubic hair type stuff; when it grows properly I’m sure it’s going to look like the sides of his face have been set on fire.
We visited Arnhem, Overloon, Foy, Bastogne, Hurtgen Forest, Waterloo and Ypres and then looked at the differences between the military cemeteries of the Brits, the Yanks and the Germans. When we were in Bastogne we visited the barracks that was the wartime HQ of the Yanks, and while we were in the cellar of the building where the Americans rejected the demand to surrender by the Germans there was an American woman and her husband who were part of our guided tour.
The guide spent fifteen minutes (at least) explaining about how General McAullife was in charge of the American Paratroopers and how he fought gallantly against the Germans, and as he stopped to take a breath the American woman asked “Was he on our side?” The guide just stared at her for a moment or so and said “Yes, of course.”
At that I walked past her and muttered “Embarrassing!” A minute or so later she came storming out of the room and had a go at me saying that there were no stupid questions and that I needed to get over myself. I corrected her and basically told her to stop being hysterical and a couple minutes later she dragged her husband off and for the rest of the tour we had peace and quiet. Another American who was there then said to me that he thought I was wrong about the stupid questions thing, but he defended my right to say it, and as he looked a bit like an overweight psyco hillbilly, I thanked him and left it at that.
Most of the HQ has gone on Exercise for the next two to three weeks and as I have been ill recently they’re not letting me go in case I go wibble again, so because there is nothing much to do I’m taking three weeks off and remembering how my bed feels and also how to cook.
Aug – Sep 14
Warning – Be aware that there is a bit of swearing in this edition.
Hello from Holland, this month’s edition is a bit long winded because I have two months to catch up on and let’s be honest, I enjoy waffling.
Living in the barrack block highlights certain things, inadequacies you could say, particularly in the toilet department. Although we all get on very well there are a couple of things that people here do in the ablutions that annoys the fuck out of me. The first is the snot, it’s plastered on both the toilet cubicle walls and doors and on the shower cubicle walls. The Dutch cleaning lady must think that as British men push out at the bottom end, the top end over-pressurises and snot blasts out of our noses.
The annoying thing here is that someone actually sits on the bog next to a fucking big container bolted on to the wall containing approximately one hundred metres of toilet roll, and picks their nose and is at such a loss as to what to do with it, they smear it on the wall above the toilet roll dispenser.
I’m guessing it’s more than one person because the green, yellow and black tough jelly like substance is smeared on both sides of the cubicles. Now, I always use my right hand when picking my nose and therefore should I choose to smear it, it would always be on the right-hand (as you sit there) side. So it’s either more than one person who is into smearing snot or just one prolific ambidextrous wanker.
The same goes for the showers, but let’s concentrate on me for a second; when I create a snot rocket in the *shower whilst standing under a spray of water the results invariably go on to my chest or belly (it’s quite large) and then gets washed away as I clean myself. Some **MoFo is picking his nose while standing under running water, above a large drain hole and yet again, is lost for a location to dispose of the contents of their nose.
The second thing that annoys me and makes me realise I am too old for communal living is that at least one male in the block has a healthy bowel movement everyday as well as a complete lack of understanding of the use of a toilet brush; although to be honest with just a bit more colour the results of what he leaves after he has flushed could be put forward as a monotone Jackson Pollock.
This obvious unfamiliarity with a toilet brush has been noted by others and we have signs up in every cubicle explaining how to use a bog brush.
Sticking with the subject of toilets, the females in the barrack block have their own cubicle that the blokes are not allowed to use. It is about twice the size of the gents cubicles because it used to be the disabled toilet, which gives you an idea of what the management here think of the women; either the women have such large bottoms that they need the space, or they need the space to spread their legs out as much as possible. Never actually having seen a women use the toilet I couldn’t say which of the above it is***.
One the subject of women using a communal toilet let’s look at the differences between the sexes having a number two:
Wander in with smartphone/laptop/tablet/kindle/Men’s Health or Nuts magazine.
Have a chat with whoever is using the urinal, which is shielded by a partition to protect the women.
Make oneself comfortable.
Continue chat with urinal man while forcing one out.
Pick nose, look for location to dispose of snot, not notice toilet roll, chose wall and smear.
Relax, and call mate to open the bar or to organise drinks for later, make sure to mention where he is whilst making the call.
Read literature/play solitaire (loudly)/text, and generally enjoy location and experience.
After about fifteen or twenty minutes finish, wipe arse (hopefully), flush toilet, admire brown artwork in the pan, walk out of cubicle telling anyone else present “I’d give it minute or so mate!”, wash hands (also hopefully) and leave.
Don’t know – they all refuse to poo when one of the men’s cubicles are occupied; they do, however, use the toilet brush – I’ve checked.
Remaining with the subject of toilets for just a moment more, when I pee (usually sitting – it’s an age thing) it takes me about two minutes of relaxing and letting it flow naturally; not the women in the this block, I swear they must have some kind of emergency relief valve that allows them to dump their contents in about fifteen seconds with the kind of force that sounds as if it’s damaging the toilet bowl. If you want an idea of the sound and violence, just use a garden hose on your patio on full force from a couple of inches away.
Toilet edition finished.
Pat flew over and spent a week with me in July and we booked the welfare house in Heerlen. During the week we visited Eben-Emael, Bastogne & Foy, Hurtgen Forest, Overloon and finally Arnhem before driving on to spend two nights in Amsterdam and then on to England. Bastogne & Foy you will recognize if you have seen Band of Brothers, we visited the actual location where Easy Company was dug in and fought.
Accompanying us around for the first couple of days was a US officer from where I work, I asked him to come along as he is bit of an expert on Bastogne, Foy and the Hurtgen Forest and was able to show us lots of places. What I didn’t realise is that the poor man is in the middle of slow mental breakdown and his mood veered from angry to exuberant and certain words would set him off on a rant, for which he would always apologise for afterwards.
The key words guaranteed to make him throw a wobbly were ‘Ex-wife’, ‘Easy Company’ and by half way through the first day ‘Peperoni pizza’. His wife is apparently bit of a psyco-bitch and has, according to him, been trying to make his life hell. He gets worked up over Easy Company because he thinks they have had too much coverage due to the Band of Brothers book and TV series.
The afternoon of the first day we stopped off for a spot of lunch at an Italian restaurant. The restaurant didn’t have an English menu, so I had a quick scan and ordered Peperoni pizza. When I came it was just a pizza base, tomato sauce/passata, cheese and loads, I mean loads of chilli peppers – that’s it.
When I pointed out to the waiter that peperoni pizza should contain meat, he went off on a rant in German and a little English and insisted that peperoni pizza was chilli peppers, hence the term peper-oni. If I wanted pepperoni, I should have asked for fleisch, which is German for meat. We all pointed out to him that across the rest of the civilised world peperoni pizza had pepperoni on it, but he just got angry at us and stomped off muttering under his breath.
That set the US officer off and he stormed off and had a go at the waiter and the cook, Pat and I just ate our food and kept our heads down while he ranted at the staff and too be honest, the pizza, although meatless, was pretty good. It was also the first place I have been in continental Europe where I did not tip, and whilst paying, glared at the waiter daring him to ask how the meal was.
For the next day and a half, Pat and I tried to work the words ‘Ex-wife’, ‘Easy Company’ and ‘Peperoni pizza’ in to the conversation as much as possible to see what reaction we could get from him. He spent the whole period in the centre of the back seat, and every time he got wound up he would lean forward between the front seats and just unload on everything that had annoyed him, before falling back and apologising.
Pat and I drove up to Amsterdam and spent a couple of nights in a hotel and spent a day and a half sightseeing, Pat’s foot was playing him up, so yet again I didn’t get to see any prostitutes in their windows; poor girls will soon be getting a complex and asking why does the large Englishman keep coming to Amsterdam and ignoring us?
We went to an Argentinian restaurant and we each had the mixed grill which comprised of: two steaks, one chicken breast, one chorizo sausage, one corn on the cob and one rack of ribs, all that accompanied by a large bowl of chips between the two of us. At the end of the meal, neither of us could move too much for fear of splitting open, so we took it extra easy.
Whilst sitting in the hotel bar on the second evening I accidentally smashed a glass of whisky over Pat’s shorts, I offered to suck it out, but he refused; luckily it didn’t stain and he refused to let me sniff them to see if his balls smelt of whisky, no fun that man!
A few weeks ago I had a mini-stroke (TIA) and all the information that I have read states that there is no long term damage and that within a few hours you are back to normal; bollocks to that! For nearly a fortnight afterwards I could barely get through the day without collapsing of exhaustion in the afternoon, and even now I sometimes have problems concentrating; but that could just be an age thing.
While Pat was with me in the Netherlands I did all of the driving and the poor man spent the whole time sitting forward on the edge of his seat keeping an eye on the road, oncoming traffic, traffic behind, side-roads, pedestrians, speed limits, and everything else, in order to make sure I didn’t go all wobbly and kill someone, well, him at least! Poor man must have been exhausted at the end of each day having to concentrate that much.
The other day I and one of the lads I work with went out to get some lunch and I drove. He is over six feet tall, black, from Michigan and likes to expound theories about the Illuminati taking over the God-Damned world, anyway, I digress, as we pulled away an alarm went off in my car and he asked “What’s the god-damn alarm for Jim? I replied “It warns me when there’s a black man in the car” Funnily enough the alarm switched off when he put his seatbelt on, but he didn’t think it was as funny as I did.
His reply was “Damn man, if you’re were in the American Army, you couldn’t say shit like that.” I tried to explain the concept of banter to him, but he just couldn’t get that it’s okay to insult your friends and mates.
I then took him for a full English breakfast which is served all day on Fridays at the British Cafe on the base which he enjoyed, but during the lunch he swore I was trying to kill him with all the saturated fats. The lunch gave him heart-burn for the rest of the afternoon, serve him right!
The other evening I had some microwavable dim sum which was mainly king prawn, and it came with two types of sauce which stank; one was some sort of vagina scented liquid and the other the sort of smell that comes from sticking your finger up your bottom (or someone else’s) and sniffing it while it is fresh on the digit. In other words two things that are missing from my life. Apparently this dish is quite popular in the Netherlands, which goes some way to explaining some of the Dutch porn I have seen recently.
Water cooker – kettle
Quote from Latvia which I forgot to include in Jun’s email:
Italian Officer: “Does this battery use electricity to recharge?”
Jim: “No sir, pixie dust.”
That’s it for now.
*never the bath – that’s just wrong!
**MoFo = Motherfucker (as opposed to MooFoe, which is a hostile bovine).
***Other than RedTube and that doesn’t count as there is usually at least one bloke in there as well.
28 Jun 14
This time this month’s waffle is a combination of Holland and Latvia
We have a lady working with us called Martine, she’s a French Major and is with us for six months and is due to depart at the end of Jul and return to Paris, she’s very nice and very French. The other week she brought in a large pie that she had cooked and she was very proud of it; it was a pastry base, layered with strawberries cut in half and then had English cream poured over it, or custard as we would call it.
When she laid it on the desk I leaned over and had a sniff and then told her it smelt a “bit funny”, once I had straightened up she then leaned over to sniff it to see what I could smell, at that point I patted the back of her head causing her nose to touch the pie. She went ballistic. “Sgt Drake you are zee most inappropriate man I have ever met, if you were in the French military I would have you Court Martialled” and then she stormed off in a huff to the toilet to clean herself.
In my defence not only would a British officer not fall for that, but it was a funny as fuck; ten minutes later she came back in and said “Sgt Drake, you are zee funniest man I know”. That’s good because if I do it again I can base my defense on the fact that I’m the office clown.
A couple of us visited the village of Monschau just over the German border it was very nice and German, all black and white medieval houses and a castle type thing. It took us an hour to get there and it then took us an hour to pretty much see the whole place and have cake and coffee in the town square.
Coming back however, we saw the coolest thing that Germany has ever produced since Bratwurst – a Tractor Party. Basically take one tractor, add one very long trailer, place a long table down the middle with a beer tap, surround said table with a couple of benches and then fill with drunken German men with beer mugs and then take to the road; although with my bladder it probably wouldn’t be the best place for me to go drinking. It was the only tractor I have ever been stuck behind where I did not want to immediately overtake.
This month I deployed to Riga, Latvia for ten days as part of a team reviewing the facilities there and showing the NATO flag and the good news is that NATO follows the RAF principle of deploying, in other words we went in to hotels; however, I now have to revise my opinion of Latvia, Riga is one of the nicest places I have ever been. Lovely architecture, cheap food, nice people and cheap good beer. So if you want a nice romantic weekend away (with or without me) then Riga is worth considering.
The population seems to be split in to one of two camps, those who absolutely f’ing hate the Russians, and a minority who love them. I went to a laundrette and asked the woman (definitely not a lady) if she spoke English and she went all medieval on me. In perfect, but angry and very loud English she said “No, Russian only”, and then she went in to full Russian mode which I didn’t understand, but suspect that both I and the democratic states of Europe did not come out of it well. Still it only cost 18 Euros for a week’s worth of washing and tumble drying, so I guess that abuse in Russian was a small price to pay for clean clothes.
Most Latvian shops do not hand you back your money when you have bought something and have some change due to come back to you, they drop it in to a small plastic tray in front of you, where you then have to scoop the coins/notes out. Even if you put out your hand they will ignore/dodge it, go past it to the tray and drop the money.
By about the third day I would hold out my hand for the change and then when they had dropped it in to the tray I would pick up the tray, slide the money out in to my other hand and then from a height of a couple of inches just drop the tray back on to the counter while staring at the assistant to show how rude I thought he/she was. The only bad thing about this method of showing my disapproval was that I couldn’t really go back to that shop again as I got snotty stares from the staff.
During the course of the ten days the only trouble we saw was, predictably, from a bunch of Brits on a stag party staggering down the street and doing the typical drunk Brit routine of letting everybody know how drunk they were at the top of their voices.
Most of the restaurants and bars have tables and chairs outside, but because Latvian weather is even more unpredictable than British weather, they all offer blankets to drape over yourself. Each bar/restaurant have their own patterns and colours and it looks weird the first time you walk past the outdoor seating area and everybody’s drinking and eating while wrapped up in blankets.
New Latvian Food Blog – We went out most evenings for food, to be honest we had no choice, eat in the hotel at inflated prices or go hungry, Riga has a fantastic spread of restaurants ranging from Tex-mex to Turkish to curry or Italian, etc, etc.
One day I had a venison burger which was very nice, think of the biggest and most masculine deer/stag you can, then blow its head off, cut off one of its testicles (the smaller of the two), mince it with a few spices and fry it. Then lose it in a bun that is clearly too big for it and seems to be designed to make the burger feel inadequate; then add about ten cold chips which I sent back. To show how alien the Latvians are to the Brits, the burger was served with Thousand Island dressing – why? It wasn’t a king prawn testicle burger, as an aside, the onion rings were nice.
If it is possible, Latvian MacDonald’s is even shitter than Dutch MacDonald’s, for brekkie you can have a Breakfast meal which is an English muffin with two slices of instant cheese accompanied by a coffee, and a cold apple pie, and that’s it. Perhaps there is a hierarchy of shitness across Europe where countries compete to be disappointing.
The young lady behind the counter quite clearly saw the sadness and disappointment written across my face and offered me anything from the standard day menu, so I asked for a quarter pounder and got a blank look in return until one of her colleagues translated it to her “He wants a McRoyle” so in short I had a Quarter-pounder at 0830.
I found a curry house and over the course of the 10 days managed to visit it twice, it was very nice and full of Ex-pat Brits getting their dose of curry. The Yank I was with had never had curry and so had the Korma and loved it. – End of New Latvian Food Blog
For those of you are unaware this month I had a mini-stroke. I was sitting at work when my vision went all wibble and swirly, then I got all confused and struggled to understand what people were saying to me. When I mentioned in passing that I was experiencing my own personal psychedelic light show, Martine bullied me to go to the Medical Centre. When I got there and explained what was happening, they made me lie down and called an ambulance.
Once at the hospital I had a battery of sensors stuck all over me, and I mean that; they went from my ankles to my throat, and after five minutes or so they confirmed that I had indeed had a stroke and I was lucky that it was only a little one.
Once they had finished and released me I had to use one of the hospital telephones to call the British Delegation for transport back to base, the clerk I spoke to offered to come out and collect me but got overruled by her Sgt who directed me to MT flight.
As is usual with my life there was nobody there, and since the hospital had someone else lined up to use the treatment room I was in I couldn’t hang around so I walked a couple of hundred metres to the bus stop, and then once in the town centre I got a taxi back to base.
I had to then call the medical centre and the Admin office to let them know I was back so I used the telephone booth in the Brit barrack block. What I didn’t realise was that the armchair was broken/booby-trapped and when I sat on the front edge of the chair to reach for the telephone the chair unbalanced, dumped me on to the floor and then flipped back in to the wall, bounced off and landed up on me upside down.
So there I was sitting on the floor in a small booth, still trying to come to terms with what had happened to me over the course of the past few hours, with a chair on top of me seemingly trying to hump me, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I compromised and crawled out of the booth on all fours while shaking off a horny armchair and stood up in the corridor and then went back in and started to use my boot to right the chair before remembering the warnings from the doctor about raising my blood pressure.
Long story short – I righted the chair and having learned my lesson sat down a lot more carefully. I am now on blood thinners for a fortnight and then anti-clotting agent for a further fortnight and then I return to the hospital for an MRI/CAT scan.
I’m fine now, just sleepy all the time and spending most days in bed sleeping. For the next fortnight I am on no stress, alcohol, sports or anything that will raise my blood pressure, and next week will hopefully be able to return to work for half-days until I feel better
The thing is, this happened to me last year in summer and I thought it was just some kind of funky migraine and spent a couple of days in bed and then carried on as normal, but now I am going to have to revise my whole lifestyle – what a bummer!
Scene – On parade in Latvia.
Italian Officer: Sgt Drake, who are they?
Sgt Drake: They’re Danish Army Sir.
Italian Officer: Where are they from?
Sgt Drake: Traditionally sir, Denmark.
Said Italian officer ignored me for the rest of the parade.
That’s it for this month, hopefully I’ll survive for another month
Holland 25 May 14
Greetings from the Netherlands, more waffle from an obese alcoholic, just remember you have a delete button. I have just spent two weeks back in England and am glad to be back in the Netherlands for a rest from drinking, but while I was home I made an awesome discovery; Tesco’s are selling bacon flavoured water. All you do is buy their bacon, grill or fry it and then decant the water that comes off it; the volume is amazing and can be used to flavour stews or other dishes where a large volume of water is required. And the best thing is that it doesn’t matter if you buy their cheapest or Finest range, the amount of water is about the same, although their cheapest range does leave a brown turd-like stain in the frying pan when you have finished cooking it
We went out for a Chinese the other day and when we ordered the meal I asked for some Prawn crackers, when they arrived I was amazed; in Britain when you order prawn crackers you get a bowl with about ten or twenty in, and they are about an inch by an inch. Not here, they are approximately 8 1/2 by 51/2 inches long and unlike British ones that are light and fluffy, these buggers have had the life cooked out of them.
One of the defining characteristics of living here is the ever present speed bumps, these are not gentle designed to make you think about your speed type of things, these are full-on angry dyke type things that stretch across the road and seemed to be designed to destroy your chassis if you dare to exceed the speed limit.
My personal theory is that they are designed to slow down the German Army the next time they come over the border; we have a British officer who drives a Porsche Boxter and he already grounded on them – still, if you are going to drive a Porsche! Below is a possible conversation between two Germans regarding the speedbumps:
Hans: Let’s invade the Netherlands.
Otto: Bugger that, have you seen the speed bumps?
Hans: Good point, let’s have a drink instead.
I work with a roughy-toughy Turkish Special Forces Warrant Officer who is a sniper when back at home, but who is currently undermining the reputation of the Turkish Special Forces as an elite unit because he is reading the Turkish translation of 50 Shades of Grey; and you all thought I was gay!
Christie, the Belgique Warrant Officer I work with, brought in a couple of different types of African food for us to try. The first thing I tried was a Tamarind Fruit. It looked like a giant peanut shell and then when you have cracked the cover it’s a gooey type of flesh with a number of stone like seeds and tasted slightly sweet, if bland. The next thing I tried was what looked like a seed from a tree and it tasted quite earthy, but it wasn’t until I had tasted it that she told me it was actually a giant dried Caterpillar cocoon; anyway, long story short – I spent the next hour fishing bits of the bloody thing out of my teeth. Make no mistake, I shall get my own back, I just need to find some British foods that are just as disgusting – suggestions please!
Conversation between me and a French officer (FO):
FO: “Jim, is the volume turned up?”
Jim: “yes sir, I can hear it fine.”
FO: “Ah yes, but the British talk at a lower frequency than the French.”
Jim: “Yes sir, we’re just less excitable”
And que a not very amused expression from said officer.
Our Cleaning lady is in her 60’s, at least, and has the obligatory short lesbian style haircut* and rather oddly, bright orange lipstick; she also has a larger arse than me, and she has a habit of wearing thin white see-through trousers with large bloomers underneath that have brightly coloured patterns on them. The other day as I walked past she bent over to get something from the bottom shelf of her cleaning trolley and I was presented with a whole bloody poppy field stretched out across her buttocks; I’ll never be able to commemorate Remembrance Day again without seeing that awful sight, every time I pin on a poppy, I’ll remember a large Dutch bottom.
A few weeks ago, it could have been last year I don’t really remember, I was in the local supermarket and while being served, had the following short conversation with the cashier:
Jim: “If we were in Britain, you would offer to pack my shopping for me.”
Cashier: “Why, are you disabled?”
And that’s why I believe that as beautiful as the Netherlands is, it’s still stuck back in the 60’s or 70’s. But that’s not a bad thing in some ways, supermarkets do not control all shopping in the town, there are at least two butchers and four bakeries in Brunssum, which is about the size of King’s Lynn, all the kids cycle to school every morning, with the older kids looking after them, and at the weekends there are loads of small kids running around the town centre with no adult supervision having the time of their lives; seriously, Jimmy Saville would love it here.
Informatical (In-for-mat-e-cal) – Information Technology
Factical (Fac-tea-cal) – telling the truth
English drops – Liquorice Allsorts
That’s it for this month.
*That is to say the hair is short, not the lesbian, that would just be stereotyping midget lesbians – as if they don’t have problems enough!
Holland 27 Apr 14
I have started to use the body hugging briefs that I bought in Amsterdam, this is because I have put on so much weight it makes more sense to have testicles that are warm and sweaty rather than testicles that are being strangled by a pair of boxers that are now too tight. The briefs are not really user friendly; at my age going for a wee is always an adventure at the best of times, but with these new pants there is an element of danger thrown in as well.
When I go for a wee, I leave it to the last minute, so that when I get to the urinal there is not a lot of time for messing around, but these pants have willy hole at offset to the side and covered by a sewn-in flap, which has the exit hole right at the bottom of the briefs, in other words to use the hole my penis needs to be as flexible as a snake in a pole dancing competition.
The danger element is twofold; firstly, if I use the hole I am in danger of pulling my todger through so hard that repeated use of the briefs will lead to a 12 inch willy or worst case scenario, ripping my willy off. Rather than go with either of the above options I now have to use the sit down toilet because I have to be like a five year old boy and undo my belt and trousers and pull my undies down, and this method gets you some strange looks at the urinal
The Danes are now wearing our camouflage which is bit confusing as if you are not concentrating and greet them thinking they are Brits you get a reply with a Danish accent; but that’s better than the Romanians who are wearing what looks like a version of our old desert camouflage which is a light sand coloured uniform with strong brown streaks, basically it looks like someone has liberally smeared shit all over it.
Some of the officers here when they give a Power Point (PPT) presentation feel it is necessary to bring up the slide, study it in some surprise and then repeat every word on it, this means that when there is a meeting with PPT it actually takes about four times longer than it needs to. The audience, even though English is not their first language, have read through the slide in a few seconds, picked out what’s pertinent and then switched off while the presenter waffles on. This means that the audience has brief bursts of interest (10 seconds or so of the slide) followed by long bursts of day-dreaming (up to one or two minutes of each slide); no wonder the officers here are knackered with that kind of rollercoaster of attention/inattention.
We have an American Major here who is like a ten year old child on a sugar rush having just been given a puppy for Christmas; it should be illegal to have that much enthusiasm for your job, and I’m convinced that the reason he has been sent to NATO by the Yanks is to crush his spirit and slow him down.
He’s a stereotypical American in that all problems can be solved by throwing money at them, and if nobody will offer to throw money at the problem, he is more than happy to go out and ask for it. In order to do his job he wangled a brand new Blackberry, because, and I quote “It’s the only phone that has what I need to do my job”. A week later he wants to return it because it’s too complicated and suddenly the normal issue mobile will do perfectly. We are convinced that the only reason he is here at NATO is because he has this ‘spend money now, ask questions later’ attitude and it was bankrupting the American defence budget, so they decided to punish NATO by letting him loose on their money.
The dress code for the RAF was promulgated a few weeks back and dictated that we had to wear our camouflage shirts (MTP) tucked in. I was given a gentle telling off for not complying and since then have been a good boy and tucked in every day. We have just had two new senior RAF officers posted in and both have refused to tuck in despite repeated promulgation of the dress code in weekly orders in bold. After about a month of the orders being published, they have stopped trying to get these two seniors to follow the dress code and have changed the orders to say that we can wear MTP shirts either tucked in or hanging out. With my belly, mine is now back to be un-tucked.
In the office we read an article about how crooks and rapists in South America are using scopolamine to control and rob victims by temporarily turning them in to zombies (read about it here), and one of the methods they use is to powder it, place it in the palm of their hand and blow it in to the face of an unsuspecting victim in order that they inhale it, within a few seconds the victim becomes docile and open to suggestion and will do anything you want them to do, such as use their cashpoint card or have sex. We had a discussion about this and then moved on with our work, several minutes later on of the officer’s wandered back in and asked to borrow some dairy creamer, which he then poured in to his hand and then tried to blow in to Christie’s face, luckily she caught on just as he did it and got out of the way.
Each corridor has a large shredder so we can destroy any classified documents and the thing about shredders is that they are designed to shred paper, nothing else, only paper. One or more of the people in my section are either idiots or have been experimenting to test the limits of paper shredding technology because twice in a month they have tried to feed through bulldog clips or something similar. They either don’t understand what happens when a large toughened metal object meets other smaller softer metal objects (teeth of the shredder), or they do know, but want to just check that the laws of physics still apply to NATO.
As you can imagine there is a large number of toilets scattered across HQ and in every single sit-down toilet cubicle the cleaning contractors have had to put a poster showing you how to dispose of the toilet roll tubes. When the loo roll has run out of paper the cardboard tube that is left behind is quite substantial and has large tough plastic ends on it, and some numb-nuts instead of dropping the tube in the bin has been dropping them in the bog and trying to flush them away and the problem has become so big that a sign in every single cubicle is the only way to address the issue.
By the time I was about four years old I had pretty good idea of the correct procedure for disposing of toilet roll tubes, it was to call my mum who would drop it in the bin. To me, these signs are an acknowledgement of either just how stupid some people are, or that we have some kind of toilet ninja whose idea of fun is to block the bogs.
Female Officer: “Sgt Drake, this milk is past its suspense date, we need to get rid of it.”
Sgt Drake: “Just throw it in the dustbin Ma’am.”
Female Officer: “No, we must pour it down the sink.”
Sgt Drake: “What! Why clog up the sink with that rubbish, just dump it in the bin and by tomorrow it will magically disappear.”
Female Officer: “No, it must go down the sink, milk is dangerous.”
Sgt Drake: “What, you mean it’s out at night on the street with knives and baseball bats?”
Female Officer: “Have you ever had food poisoning?”
Sgt Drake: “Yes, best weight loss programme I’ve ever been on!”
Female Officer gives disgusted shake of head and walks away.
That’s it for another month of shenanigans in the Netherlands. I’ll be back in the UK 04 – 20 May and can’t wait.
Holland 30 Mar 14
More rubbish from Holland. Not much happened this month other than I spent three days exploring Amsterdam with Maxine and have one top tip, do not spend several hours walking around with tight jeans, a weight problem and loose boxers. After about four hours your inside thighs chafe so bad that the only way to walk is to adopt the John Wayne* pose. The amount of heat generated by the rubbing of cloth in the lower crotch was probably enough to cook my balls, therefore, it’s a good job I’m past child-bearing age or I’d be shooting sparks (or at least that’s how it felt). The solution to the chaffing was to pop into C&A and buy a couple of pairs of body-hugging boxers which I changed in to in their toilets; they stopped the chaffing but since I have not worn anything that tight around my genitals for at least thirty years I spent the rest of the day feeling like a warm sweaty hand was cupping my testicles.
We visited the Sex Museum which is not at all erotic** especially when you are standing next to your sister looking at photographs of facial cum shots, if I want weird shit like that I would live in Norfolk, oh wait! As much fun as Amsterdam was it could have been more fun if my sister hadn’t banned me from junk food, as an obese man in his 50’s it was heart-breaking to walk past so many MacDonalds and Burger Kings; that said I was allowed in one, but that was only because Maxine realized that vegetarian hippy mint tea doesn’t give you the same boost as fresh coffee, so we snagged fresh coffee and special offer apple pie. On the Thursday we decided to have the evening meal in the restaurant in the hotel, so we went for the set three-course meal which was 30Euros each and just like a proper dinner, but in miniature.
The starter was seafood based and was superb but had I wanted to steal it, it could have probably all fitted in to a matchbox. The main course was steak and veg, or at least that was what was advertised; in reality it was four thin slices of steak and the equivalent of a large tablespoon of roasted vegetables and potatoes which had been diced down to uniform squares that were about five millimeters across . That last sentence really does say a tablespoon and five millimeters across – get a ruler and see just how big each cube of veg & spuds were, and then I dare you not to be disappointed. Desert was a mixture of chocolate and ice-cream, and again staying with the ‘let’s help the fat man lose weight’ theme, the portion was tiny. Having whinged about the portion size, I have to admit that the food was fantastic, but my main criteria for a meal is not to go to bed hungry, but it wasn’t really an issue since I had four large glasses of red wine and then a portion of MacDonalds apple pie in my room.
More by accident than design we wandered in to a small part of the Red Light District and since it was early evening there were only a few prostitutes on display and not one of them looked happy to be there; they were all middle-aged, overweight and miserable, and one of them was eating junk. To get an accurate picture of how sexy they looked, think of me with a bra & knickers and a bad wig at the same time as someone pisses me off by shining a red light in to my eyes while I’m scoffing a pot noodle. There has to be attractive young ladies, but it must have been too early for them.
We visited the Anne Frank Museum and although quite a moving experience in one way, it was also a little disappointing in another. All the original furniture has been removed and, I suspect because of the crowds who visited, not replaced, so all we did was shuffle through a number of empty rooms, it was a bit like a sad version of when you go house-hunting and get shown a property that needs a lot of work to get it up to standard.
The experience was made moving/poignant by the writing on the walls. The museum has taken parts of her diaries and reprinted them on the walls throughout the rooms. Those words coupled with family photos and the fact that her father was the only one to survive, do bring home just how horrible the whole experience must have been. Anne Frank went through two years of hiding from the Nazis and still wanted to live in peace, me, I went through an hour of following two separate groups of children around the house and wished there were more automatic weapons in the world.
I had to help with a presentation in our theatre the other Monday, which wasn’t a problem until I got to the theatre and discovered that over the weekend some bright spark had come in and dismantled the sound system, and since we were giving the presentation from a laptop with a film (that’s a ‘movie’ for you Americans) it meant that anybody who was sitting more than five feet away could not hear a thing. But due to the fact that we’re military we quickly found a solution, I would hold the microphone to the PA system to the speaker on the laptop, and after a bit of experimentation we discovered the best position. The laptop was was balanced on the podium at groin height and the speakers were at the front edge of the keyboard, which meant I had to stand there for ten minutes constantly jiggling a phallic shaped microphone at genital height to ensure I got the best sound; in other words I stood there looking as if I was shagging the laptop.
The French ladies here think that an Englishman speaking French is the sexiest thing ever, they absolutely love our accent. The American ladies just love the English accent, particularly middle-England/Oxford English; all this time I never realized it, but I’m a sex symbol.
You know you’re getting old when you look at pornography and you pay as much attention to the background, checking the electrical sockets, style of the buildings, things like that, to see if you can spot which country they are filming in; as an aside, IKEA seems to do quite well from these productions.
That’s it for this month, as I said, not a lot has happened, it’s a bit like groundhog day, but now a whole one percent better paid.
**Although apparently they have an erotic museum as well,
08 Mar 14
Good morning from the Netherlands, not much really happened in Feb to write about so this letter is me grasping at straws and as usual exaggerating. Work remains an absolute powerhouse of boredom and non-challenges, and getting the motivation to go to the gym remains hard; although the motivation to drink red wine remains high. I have started to regularly use the word ‘Boss’ and have got away with using ‘Guv’ on one occasion. One of the reasons I like to use the word boss is because when I do I’m not really thinking of the individual as figure of authority, more like one of the definitions listed below:
1. A circular protuberance or knoblike swelling, as on the horns of certain animals.
2. A raised area used as ornamentation.
3. Architecture A raised ornament, such as one at the intersection of the ribs in a vaulted roof.
a. An enlarged part of a shaft to which another shaft is coupled or to which a wheel or gear is keyed.
b. A hub, especially of a propeller.
Many thanks to the person who pointed out the above uses of the words ‘Boss’
I tried to make cheese on toast the other day; however, I came across two problems. First problem was that since we are not allowed toasters in the barrack block, I had to use uncooked toast, or bread, as you may know it; so really it was going to be melted cheese on bread. Second problem was that Dutch cheese does not melt, not at bloody all. It retains both its shape and heat, as in really retain heat, as in thermo-fucking-nuclear heat, as in strip the flesh off the roof of your mouth and heat up your teeth so they are painful for a second or so. So anyway, top tip for eating cheese on toast in the Netherlands – be bloody careful as it bites back.
One of our sections, the Central Registry (CR) has had all of the staff replaced over the past couple of months by new people posted in, and most of them are Spanish soldiers. In the old days the CR was manned by Brits, Poles and Yanks and when you wanted something doing, i.e. having a CD burned, you simply walked in, greeted all, and made your request and then walked away secure in the knowledge that when you returned your request would have auctioned/completed.
Now getting anything done involves walking in, spending five minutes negotiating and listening to excuses and then walking away knowing that you will have to return a bit earlier than necessary to ensure the job is done. The thing is, it only takes five minutes to burn a CD, but they will easily spend as much time quoting rules, regulations and reasons as to why they may not be able to meet your unreasonable deadline.
I know it’s not a national trait as we have a couple of Spanish officers working in my division and they are brilliant; it makes me wonder if when these guys started in there they made a pact to be as unhelpful and miserable as possible. There are two new yanks in there working alongside the Spanish and the poor sods are now the focus of everybody who wants something done quickly and efficiently.
We had a conference the other day and late the afternoon before one of the officers came in asked for administrative support, which led to a fun-filled half hour of running around preparing laptops. So the next morning I begrudgingly turned up at the conference centre in question, spent 10 minutes setting up a laptop and whilst doing so, questioned the other lads who were setting up for their bosses and found out that they’d known about this Conference for at least a month.
Once the laptop was set up I spent an hour and three quarters sitting around drinking coffee, then I got bored and simply walked out and returned to work; surprise, surprise, I wasn’t missed at all. The only highlight in the two hour window was I met a lady who had on bright blue nail polish; at first glance I thought it looked as if every one of her fingers had a catering plaster on.
Requests for assistance this month:
1. What I was asked – Sgt D, the photocopier is jammed.
What I thought – How f*cking stupid do you have to be not to be able to follow the *simplified colour onscreen instructions to un-jam a sheet of paper?
What I did – Un-jammed it while being helpfully supervised by said officer.
2. What I was asked – Sgt D, the battery has run out on my key.
What I thought – why can’t you walk to the next corridor to the Security Office and ask them for a new one?
What I did – Walked to the Security Office and got a new battery.
Quotes of the month:
Rick: Christie, you’re not like a real black person.
Jim: What, you mean she’s not carrying a knife and trying to sell crack!
We were talking about the Belgiques introducing euthanasia for children:
Christie: Yes, my country is the first in the world to allow euthanasia of children.
Jim: not true, the Germans led the way 70 years ago.
All in pig games – Olympic Games
Caesar – scissors
Staple holder – stapler.
“Jim, I need you to act as a cloak this afternoon.” what she really meant – “Jim, I need you to act as a clerk this afternoon.”
That’s it for another month, prepared to be bored next month.
*Even George Bush could have followed these instructions.
Holland 01 Feb 14
Well, it’s Sunday morning and I’m having my breakfast/lunch in MacDonald’s and yet again there is a screaming brat in the background. The Dutch must think that having a screaming child in the near vicinity is an aid to digestion, what other reason can there be for so many kids to be bawling their bloody lungs out every time I go to worship. Unless of course, the kids are good all week and know that when they go to MacDonald’s they are allowed to be little sh*ts; that or they are as disappointed as me in the choices available for breakfast, but you don’t hear me screaming my head off at the poor variety of food.
Anyway, moving on, I have now moved in to one of the new rooms upstairs and it’s quite nice; new lino floor, new painted walls, fluorescent strip lights replaced by very nice round lights, and really vicious bloody booby trap on the window.
To open a skylight built in to the window we have to pull a handle down which itself is situated on the window. Due to the fact that the fuckwits who redecorated the room have placed a wooden panel in front of the skylight we are unable to open the window all the way, this means that when we try to open the skylight it won’t open all the way, which in turn means that the handle won’t pull down all the way to the fully opened position. This handle is about five feet off the ground and when the skylight is semi-opened, sticks out about a foot from the window at ninety degrees at exactly eyeball height when you get out of bed first thing in the morning.
The fact that I didn’t lose an eye the first morning is a bloody miracle, but I did seemingly gouge a six inch piece of flesh from my cheekbone – or that’s what it felt like at the time, in reality there was a red mark for about a day; but due to the element of surprise it felt a lot worse than it actually was. This maiming and gauging handle also gives credence to the expression “Getting out of bed on the wrong side”
Also when I first moved in to my new room it absolutely stank of fresh paint and lino and now a month later it still smells like I’m living in a stale paint factory
I was having a drink with a British Army Warrant Officer the other week and he expressed amazement that I could have a female as a boss and take orders from her. Incredibly, he has been in the Army for about 25 years and not once has he been given a command by a female. I explained that some of my best bosses have been female, but he wasn’t convinced, and we decided to leave it at that.
My division has just hosted a two day conference, which from my bosses point of view was a great success, but from my point of view was yet again a *monkey-fuck. A couple of days before this all-important Conf it was decided that they needed admin support, and yes, it was going to be me. Bearing in mind that my highers and betters had known about this Conf for a couple of months, they left it until two days before to involve the admin staff.
The afternoon before the Conf started they decided that they wanted the entire PowerPoint presentation collected together, placed in a booklet and then bound professionally. This was the presentation that was going to be shown on a twelve by twelve screen approx. thirty feet away from all of the participants, in what world would having the whole thing professionally produced aid the understanding of the participants?
The upshot was that we had to go to reprographics and ask them to produce 50 copies, and they were brilliant, several of them stayed behind and worked overtime to produce this booklet and too be honest, they did us proud. During the Conf barely half of the booklets were read by the participants, and all but a couple of them were swept at the end by me and destroyed.
But as if that wasn’t enough fun, waste, and inconvenience, at ten o’clock in the morning on the last day, one of the generals thought it would be a good idea to give out CD’s with all of the material on, so yet again, my division played the game of ‘let’s scramble around at the last minute and piss off the support staff with a request that we could have planned weeks ago.’ And once again after the Conf, guess what I ended up destroying loads of?
One of the participants was from an American unit called AFRICOM, and their badge is the red outline of a Zulu shield with leaves going up the outside of the red outline, and inside the centre, a green coloured map of Africa. I’m sure that as badges go, it’s all very inspiring and war-like, but at first glance from a distance, his badge looked like a syphilis infected vagina.
Staying with the theme of American badges, the American Morale & Welfare club here has the most awesome motto ever; ‘Fight Evil, Purge Evil’. That’s the kind of motto that inspires servicemen and their families in to play bingo and have barbeques.
The other thing about this Conf was that because it was so important, they didn’t want the PowerPoint slideshow managed by a sergeant with some twenty-three years’ experience, they wanted it managed by somebody more competent. I ended up teaching a full Commander how to use the presentation and VTC equipment and then he spent the next two days in a darkened booth pressing the mouse button when someone said the words “Next slide please”; however, because of his lack of experience, I had to spend two days sitting behind him in case he had a problem.
In NATO we all know that we will be doing the job of somebody one, two or three ranks our junior, but to use a Commander who has commanded a warship as a clicker-bitch really takes the piss; god bless NATO, our combined wage was somewhere in the region of a hundred thousand pounds.
That’s it for this week/month, no entertaining Translations or mis-sayings this time, but I’ll keep my ears peeled for the next letter.
*Monkey-fuck – a bit like a cluster-fuck, but whereas a cluster-fuck usually hits you out of nowhere, you can actually see a monkey-fuck coming, but are powerless to do anything about it, other than go along for the ride.