I was 19 years old and following a 9 month trade training course at RAF Halton near Aylesbury I was duly promoted to the lowest rung (then) on the Aircraft Weapons Technician career ladder and posted to RAF Brawdy in Pembrokeshire.
I settled in fairly quickly and got into the routine of the way our shift pattern worked; one day you are in at somewhere between 6.30 am and 7am, finishing around 1 pm, then the next day you started at 1pm and finished when the flying for the day finished (usually 6pm ish by the time everything was cleared away and locked up) then the following day you would be back to an early start and so on.
I’d not been there that long when I was moved out of the transit block (temporary accommodation) and assigned to a 4 man room in one of the permanent accommodation blocks. On occasion we would have Station Commanders inspection which involved shining everything in sight and squaring all your stuff away and at some point during the day the barrack blocks would be inspected by the Station Commander and his mini entourage and woe betide the airman who’s personal shit wasn’t in good order. There were, however, people who worked irregular hours and they were afforded some leeway on these occasions in that if they had worked a night shift they were allowed to remain in bed sleeping and they would affix a sign to the door of the room saying ‘Sleeping Off Nights’.
Now, once a year there would be a mega inspection where the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) the group that your unit belonged to would come round and the whole station was up for inspection. Nowhere was safe as he could pick and choose at random where he would go but it was a given that the airmen’s accommodation was a definite on the list of places to inspect.
AOC’s inspection was a ball-ache as you had to do endless cleaning, polishing, painting, and general bullshitting to get the place up to scratch. I kid you not when I say that I have seen parched grass being sprayed green though whether or not it was paint has remained a mystery to me. The culmination of the AOC’s inspection was a parade on the aircraft flightline (basically a giant carpark where the aircraft sit during the day) where all personnel not on essential duty showed up and marched about saluting and all that crap.
As I was on the afternoon shift that day I was considered to be on essential duty as there was to be a flying program following the parade so I escaped having to be on parade. Under normal circumstances I would stay in bed til around 11.30am then have a shower, go and get something to eat, and be at work for 1pm. But AOC’s day was different. NO ONE was allowed to be in bed past 9.30 am, not even the ‘Sleeping Off Nights’ guys. Basically if you weren’t part of the parade then you had to make yourself scarce for the morning while the block inspections took place.
So, dawn breaks on the morning of AOC’s day and there’s no way I’m getting up until the very last minute that I have to so I idled around in bed thinking of nothing in particular. The usual morning noises of others scrambling about to get ready and get out filled the air and then all gradually fell silent and still I didn’t move. Then, after a while, new noises reached my ears. These were the noises of cars pulling up and their doors slamming. I was up like a shot, and a quick sneak peek out of the window confirmed my fears, the AOC had arrived to inspect.
I hurriedly made my bed (neat and tidy was fine, no need for bed packs as this wasn’t considered to be a training unit) and then went to the door to have a listen. I could hear people in the entrance hallway of the block. I went back to the window to see more cars arriving. I couldn’t leave by the front door and I couldn’t jump out of the window. My first AOC’s day and I was fucked.
I paced about the room dressed only in a pair of boxer shorts considering my very limited range of options. Either I get dressed and attempt to go out the front door or I hide. The former option would undoubtedly have had serious repercussions, not right then and there, but eventually. The latter option seemed the only way to go as it wasn’t as nailed on as the first that I would be discovered so, with footsteps getting ever closer to my door, I bolted for a storage closet.
As you walked into our rooms there was a closet immediately to the right as you entered and it was where you would store stuff like brooms and mops and and other sundry stuff that you felt like…stuff you didn’t want cluttering up the room. These closets had sliding doors behind which was a storage space that was partitioned two thirds and a third. I hid in the two thirds part which was furthest away from the door to the room.
Finally the moment arrived and the AOC and all his hangers on entered the room. I could see through the crack that seperated the two sliding doors and as more bodies piled into the room my heart started beating harder. At one point I was looking directly into the Station Warrant Officer’s (SWO) eyes and I was sure he had seen me. Following the AOC’s lead they looked in our lockers and commented about the general state of the place and then the AOC asked the question ‘What’s in here ?’. He was out of my line of sight so I didn’t see what he was referring to but I knew in my thumping heart of hearts he was asking about the storage closet. ‘Just a storage closet..’ I heard someone reply as they slid the door open to reveal the inside of the space on the other side of the partition.
A strange wave of calm descended upon me as I realised the absurdity of the situation and I steeled myself for what seemed inevitable. What would their reaction be to finding a semi naked airman standing to attention inside a storage closet ? What would I say in my defence ?
‘Oh, I see…’ the AOC (I’m assuming) said followed by the muffled sound of retreating voices as they all started to file out of the room closing the door behind them.
I stayed there in my closet for what seemed an eternity until the entourage, after inspecting more rooms, finally went back down the corridor and made their way to the upper level of the block. I eventually got dressed and sat tight until the car doors slammed again and they were gone. I would go on to do lots of stupid things later in my 15 years in the RAF but I often wonder what would have happened had that particular gamble gone wrong.
So a little story there to start off with but that was in the past…in the here and now we are back to trying to make money. Yesterday was a day I’m glad to see the back of. In hindsight I was comfortable with the idea of stopping before the Inter game started but a case of nothing much else to do kept me at the keyboard. Today I am going to try harder to find other stuff to do when I get to a point that I feel is a good time to quit instead of pressing on for more money.
Today started badly with a goalless draw in the first match I targeted and again I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t have bothered with it. It was Portuguese rubbish that I should have overlooked but I was too eager to get going and instead of waiting for something better I suffered for it. Since then I’ve been all green and if the Werder Bremen match currently in play has a goal in the first half I may call a halt for the day, or at least leave it alone til much later.
That’s the state of play right now so I’m off back to the German game. Update to come a bit later on.
UPDATE>>>>>>>>> Well so far it’s been a good day with goals in the first half of the Werder game and that was followed by two quick goals in succession in the Real Madrid game so that worked out also. I have backed CF America to beat lowly Tigres later on and the only other interest I might have is in the Santos Laguna match but I’ll wait until it’s in play before I decide what to do.
UPDATE>>>>>>>>> The action for the day is finished and sadly it finished on a low note as CF America couldn’t manage to beat Tigres, the match finishing up a 2-2 draw. Bit of a pisser as I don’t normally back matches that aren’t in play but this looked a stand out easy pickings situation…seems I was wrong.
Spreadsheet and P&L updated below.
Start Bank : 168.18
End Bank : 199.62
Profit / Loss : + 31.44 (After Commission)