Another lovely morning, and whilst The Chef busied herself up at the shower
blog washing her hair and trying to dry it with painful ribs, I scrubbed up and legged it down to the Lidl supermarket. I was hoping to find another single induction hob which they have on offer at about thirty-five Euros. I bought one on the day the offer
commenced, and have since thought that it would be useful to have two spares since these units need to last us about another five years, and if the current units in use, which The Chef likes and is familiar with, become defective during that time then we'll
be able to replace both.
Unfortunately I was out of luck as they were all gone. Never mind, it saved me a bit of money I suppose, and believe
it or not I was back in the motorhome before the Chef had finished up at the shower block.
This morning was spent loafing around in the sunshine trying to get a feel of what
it must feel like to be in a Nursing Home.
After lunch we headed for the beach again for two or three hours and very nice it was too, although there was a cool breeze which
kicked off at about 15:00. We returned to 'Base camp' and continued to soak up a bit of sunshine in our 'back garden' where we were sheltered from the worst of the cool breeze.
Then we had to get ready for Quiz Night, the highlight of the week. Tonight the team was to consist of myself and The Chef, our neighbours Bob and Sue, and a couple who joined them in place of us last week who they know from their beach volley ball.
As usual we had a table booked for four so that we could have a meal before the quiz, bagging a valuable table, with Liam and Margaret joining us later for the competition.
The waiting staff as usual were run off their feet with everybody arriving at 18:30 and needing feeding at the same time. The waiting staff are such hard working individuals they really
are. Which reminded me of one of my pet hates. As The Chef will tell you I cannot abide gobby customers who treat waiting staff rudely and disrespectfully. Why is that? I hear you cry. Well, I don't normally share much about me, because the blog isn't about
me, me, me, it's about what we get up to, but with some reservations I will share a little about myself.
Whilst serving in the Royal Navy I returned from my second
trip, this time of nine months to the Far East, onboard the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the first trip being to cover the withdrawal of our troops from Aden in late 1967. The Far East trip was very enjoyable, though we did have some dreadful luck off Okinawa
where, over a weekend, we lost two aircraft and three aircrew. Oh, and I fell overboard in Freemantle harbour, Australia - but that's another story.
Upon my return I was
drafted to HMS Warrior, the headquarters of Commander-in-Chief, Fleet, in Northwood, Middlesex. This is the HQ of the UK's ultimate deterrent. When I arrived there in the spring of 1969 the camp was a mixture of RAF and Navy personnel because the deterrence
was transitioning from RAF 'V' Bombers to Polaris nuclear submarines.
As a member of the Fleet Air Arm's Meteorological & Oceanography' branch, I was on this occasion
assigned to Oceanography, a discipline which at the time was in its infancy. Basically it was weather forecasting for under the ocean, as there were aspects of the sea state, sea temperatures and their depths which effected sonar performance. Knowledge of
this was of significant help for our subs to stay below certain depths to avoid detection, and for our surface ships to get below that depth to track, and if necessary, destroy, Ivan's submarines.
For the first few months of my time there we worked out of former WW11 desert army lorries converted in to offices sat in a car park. Eventually we moved in to a spanking new administration building overlooking the main entrance and its guardroom
and the small parade ground. In those days we naval ratings worked individually on twenty-four hour shifts with a chance to have a bit of a kip for a short time during the night. We were young then, and could do it.
It was towards the end of these nights that at about 05:30-06:00 I would spot a plum-coloured Aston Martin with dark tinted windows arriving at the gates and being allowed in. Having asked the appropriate questions
of the appropriate people I found out that the driver of the car was none other than Elton John's mum. It seems she had been a cleaner at the camp for a number of years and enjoyed her job so much she didn't want to give it up even though her son was
becoming a big name. She only lived a few miles away so I guess Elton was happy for her to use his car when he was away or had no need of it.
I have to say I quite liked
Elton John as a musician and entertainer, but went off him a bit when he became a "syrup"-wearing diva. Gosh, there I go, name dropping again.
So after about eighteen months
of Oceanography I was moved to the 'Fleet Weather Centre' located underground in the huge, bomb proof bunker. I was to take over the management of a Watch (shift/team) due to a vacancy. All other Watch's were managed by Petty Officers, whilst I was only a
Leading Airman (MET), the youngest my branch had ever had, but I'd just have to do.
The department was run by Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully, a vile man, who treated the naval ratings
in his charge like shit on his shoes. I'm sure he had not approved of my taking up that position and was keen to see me crash and burn. He even assigned 'Scouse' to my watch, a guy who others seemed to have a problem working with, or he with they, I'm
not sure which. What a character that guy was.
As I've said before the camp was made up of both RAF and Navy personnel and we all rubbed along fairly well. However I remember
one night in the club, a few of us were sat around having a drink when an airman stood in front of a seated 'Scouse' giving him some verbal I just remember watch Scouse take his almost full pint of beer from his lips and extend that arm to one side, whilst
the other, quick as a flash pulled the airman down to him by his tie and give him a head butt, before letting him fall backwards. Blood everywhere, whilst Scouse put his pint back to his lips without a word spoken or a drop spilled. I tell you, that man turned
GBH in to an artform.
Anyhow, back in the Met Office I found that Scouse was a bit of a Russ Conway on the keyboard of a teleprinter, and it was a job he enjoyed, which was
just as well as we had a room full of them as we received weather information from around the world, and transmitted information to our fleet around the clock. I, in turn plotted a mean weather chart for the Met Officer, working against the clock, so
I decided we would play to our strengths most of the time, very ably supported by our less experienced staff.
I'm sure Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully was hoping we'd crash and burn
but to prove him wrong we made sure we flew, and as a consequence I'm sure he picked us out for additional obnoxious and bullying behaviour (Where the hell's this going? You're thinking. Stick with it, stick with it, we're getting there).
Just before Christmas 1971 my father had a sudden and unexpected heart attack whilst at work. As soon as I found out I asked Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully if I could be granted some compassionate
leave so that I could go and visit him about fifty miles away. He flatly refused. And that would have been that had it not been for the Met Officer I was working with that night hearing about it and overriding that decision and going out of his way to
ensure that I was off the camp the following morning with a rail warrant and compassionate leave pass authorised by him.
We also worked 24 hour shifts down in the Weather
Centre, and were often under a lot of pressure, but no matter how great the pressure was, Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully would call out of his office to his Naval Rating minions, demanding a coffee be made for him, not any time when convenient, but right there and
then. I think it was about that time that I began to notice how much 'Bluebell', (the Navy name for 'Brasso' liquid metal polish) could be used in a mug of coffee rather than evaporated milk without it being noticed. I think such mugs
of coffee were enjoyed by this individual for quite a long period of time.
My father died within a year of that first heart attack aged just 45, and I understand that
Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully died about a year after that from kidney failure.
After leaving HMS Warrior I was drafted to the Commando Carrier HMS Bulwark, where things didn't
get any better - but that's another story.
......................So where were we?......................Ah yes. ..........So if ever you're tempted to treat a waiter disrespectfully,
remember that story. Because that member of staff will, once your dish is prepared, have that plate of food in their hand, and they'll have it all to themselves for that short period of time between the kitchen servery and those swing doors that lead to the
dining area.............. and whatever they do to it as payback, I bet you won't notice it either.
Oh and the Quiz Night. Well as it happens we did amazingly well and came
second with a score of 81 out of 90, the winners having scored 84½. There were a total of 133 contestants tonight so I think we did really well. Sadly we don't expect to be around for next week's competition as I expect us to be making our way home