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A Potted Biography

 

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A Potted Biography

 

The Beginning....

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Born so long ago that I measure my birthdays in decades, I had what was then called a ‘classical’ education.

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After several meaningless jobs doing meaningless things to lumps of metal that I knew nothing about, I joined the Royal Air Force. This was such a culture shock that I was almost immediately admitted to a lunatic asylum. Six weeks of intensive idleness resulted in them believing that I was too dangerous to be kept in the ward so they released me back to join the rest of the loonies in the real world.

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The following twenty seven years were spent travelling the world and picking up all sorts of irrelevant information. In 1990 I released myself from penile servitude and started a new life and new adventures in the outside world.

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Now I live in Malaysia. The food is wonderful, the view from my window is wonderful, the weather is wonderful and the people are great.

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The Royal Air Force

Here are some samples:

 

Image The Airframe Fitter (Rigger).

A Neanderthal-like figure, it is very difficult to penetrate the skin of these creatures even assuming you can find something that does not slip off the pachydermic hide. There is a method, known only to Royal Air Force Medical teams, to determine the males from the females but the technique is so repulsive to ‘normal’ people that it is to be avoided at all costs.

The Electrical Fitter (Lekky).Image

Shy and crepuscular. Frightened of the dark, it is equally frightened of daylight in case anybody should spot it and offer it work to do. On the rare occasion that it can be cornered it will often say “It’s a generator change” because other trades do this and will allow the Lekky to slip away into the shadows once again.

Image The Avionics Fitter (Spanner W**k*rs).

Only known to speak in jargon that is totally unintelligible to non S-W’s. They spend an enormous time drinking coffee and mastering the nuances of Bridge. Avionics people end up as great drivers, able to tow aircraft accurately at high speed since they are the only people, at any one time, with sufficient lack of work to do extraneous chores.

The Armament Fitter (Plumber). Image

Have you ever been frightened out of your wits? So frightened that a change of underwear is called for? Step, unwittingly, into a room where a Plumber is beating ten shades of sh** out of a live thirty millimeter round with an enormous hammer and chisel and explaining that he is making an ashtray is sufficient to render my basal sphincter inoperable. Trust me on this. Plumbers are either entirely fearless or entirely without the concept of death.

Image The W.R.A.F. (Waffy).

They call themselves ‘lumpy-jumpers’. They are, without exception, enormously beautiful. They also have unerring bullshit detectors built into their cerebral cortex. Or brassieres. Uh-oh! I’ve been targeted!

Suppliers (Stores persons). Image

We call them stores persons because they like to store things. Suppliers like to supply things but this would be a totally alien concept to R.A.F. trained keepers of things.

Image Caterers (Cooks).

The hub of every unit is the tea urn. Our Cooks were always the heroes. They can make all sorts of wonderful things out of nothing and cope with vicissitudes that would make a TV Chef throw in their spatulas. There is nothing bad to say about catering staff. Nothing.

Clerks (Pen Pushers).
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These mostly scribed away in Hand-Brake House (Station Headquarters - SHQ). If ever you want something quickly, a favour, perhaps, do not ask here. I once asked a Chief Clerk (Warrant Officer) for a ‘career briefing’ and failed to get it. It seemed that the idea was for me to ask questions and he would avoid giving me a straight answer.

Image Engine Fitters (Sooties or Grease Monkeys).

The élite. There are none so fair as can compare with the men of the pumping pistons and crackling igniters. Indescribably handsome we are tortured with the knowledge that we have to edit our speech into simple terms for the benefit of those less intelligent, i.e., everyone else. Observe that I say ‘we’. For, yes, I, too, was a Sooty although modesty forbids me to say that I was among the best and brightest of that noble group.

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Looney-Bin

This was a fascinating place for someone such as I. There were so many characters there and we were all slightly ‘out of phase’ with the rest of the world.

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The nurse (a huge Sergeant) collected my cartoons and took them to the Doctors who scribbled notes on them. None of the notes mentioned ‘funny’, ‘amusing’, ‘witty’ - they all read ‘childish’, ‘irresponsible’, ‘pusillanimous’. Well, forgive me, but I thought ‘childish’ and ‘pusillanimous’ were the same. Perhaps these Doctors weren’t as bright as they thought they were. Certainly their sense of humour had been amputated.

I cannot, now, remember precisely what the cartoons were but here are a selection of some from that era that were, very likely, confiscated.

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Philosophy

The best place in the world to live is in your own head. Sometimes there is so much going on in there that it has to be put down on paper. Nowhere is as good or idealistic to your own purposes, wants and needs as your own imagination. In my head I can still play with friends I had when I was a small boy. I still chat with friends who have long since died but who live on inside my brain. In my mind I can be the world’s greatest lover whereas, in reality.....

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