Y'know I wanted to complete my next chapter before the end of the summer holidays? Well, as my Grandma used to say, "Who wants, never gets! So guess who didn't get it done? Worse still, our internet coverage is playing up, (I blame the Footbridge), so I'm fearful that I won't have time to publish an original blog, before the line goes down again.
So, as Shoreham Airshow is next week, I thought I'd re-publish a 2009 blog on my brief, but meaningful, relationship with the ATC. I hope you enjoy it.
"The RAF appealed to me because it always seemed so romantic. All those young handsome Battle of Britain pilots fighting to save us from imminent invasion. Whilst I didn't have a burning ambition to fly, I did, to join the Air Training Corp. I rocked up to Hove 176 in the certain knowledge that this was the beginning of a glorious military career. The thought lasted as long as it took to explain the rules of membership. The problem? You had to ask permission if you wanted to take a week off. I translated that as, "permission to skive Sir?" and the potential response perplexed me. However, whilst I pondered over that, more immediate problems surfaced.
I could not, (and still cannot), tell my left from my right. Whilst this is not normally a major handicap, it is when you are being drilled. It wasn't the done thing to stare blankly at one's hands in response to an order to,"right turn," so I turned sharply to whichever side took my fancy. To say it occasionally worked would probably be over-stating it, but anyway, my incompetence on the Parade Ground was shortly to be trumped by that on the rifle range.
I squinted down the sights of my .22 rifle like the best of them, but was never too sure which eye to shut to improve the aim. In hindsight this should have been obvious, but to an eager beaver like me, it was not. So I decided to take it in turns, closing one eye and then the other as I tried to focus on the target. I was delighted with my 30% hit rate, unlike the rather sour officer in charge.
Now it wasn't all Dad's Army for me. I excelled at the 10 mile sponsored march along Hove Prom. My regimental shoes were half a size too small but did I complain? No. I kept up, took charge and boosted morale. Officer material written all over me, I thought, right up until the moment I saluted the Commanding Officer. As he sat comfortably behind his desk, I marched up, and snapped to attention. With a ram-rod back I gave him my best Top Gun salute. At that moment I had forgotten that our salute was more Benny Hill than Tom Cruise. Unfortunately the CO had not, and took an obscenely short time to remind me.
Well, as I nursed my bloody heels that night, I started to reflect on my time in the ATC. Not wanting to hurry the process, I skivved off a couple of weeks to reflect some more. It was with a heavy heart that I concluded that the RAF may not be the right place for my unique set of talents. So I returned with my uniform in a plastic bag and they tried to entice me to stay with promises of night time orienteering. Clearly they had forgotten my track record on the Parade Ground sooner than I had. Thus my romantic dream of becoming a much loved and respected RAF Officer was dashed and I became a lawyer instead. C'est la vie."
Thanks for dropping by and see you in a fortnight.
Ta-ra for now.