Just because someone tells you something it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true so you may want to verify it by checking elsewhere especially if acting upon that information could result in a lighter wallet. There are times, however, when the information sounds so ‘right’ that you don’t need to verify it – you just go with it.
In 1988 I applied for and got a 12 month tour in Saudi Arabia. Myself and 5 other applicants were chosen to be seconded to British Aerospace and following a 6 week ‘familiarisation course’ we were sent to Dhahran to take our part in the Al Yamamah project. This was at the time a series of arms sales, the bulk of which were Tornado aircraft and associated weaponry, but also Hawk T65 weapons trainer aircraft together with it’s ancillary armament equipment. Knowledgeable and experienced personnel were also part of the deal.
My new ‘uniform’ would now be a sandy beige colour rather than RAF blue although the overalls we wore were blue however after a few washes they would go a very light blue colour not unlike that of the famous UN Peacekeeper berets. My role as a ‘TT2 (Technical Trainer 2) was to teach Saudi Air Force personnel how to arm the Hawk with guns, bombs, rockets, and other fancy stuff. We would also do ejection seat work as and when it was called for, more often than not after some clown dropped something in the cockpit that couldn’t be found following a search with the seat in so the seat would have to come out, then replaced again after the missing object was located (maybe a screw or a washer but usually something very small).
The great thing about working over there was that we had no trainees to train so we just did all the work ourselves. It was like being back on the flightline at RAF Brawdy except with brilliant sunshine every day instead of fog and horizontal rain and I absolutely loved it.
My tour eventually came to a close and the replacement secondees arrived to take over where we had left off. Having had their new passes issued that would allow them onto the airbase the new wave of Hawk armourers pitched up at our building and the meet and greets took place. I was doing the rounds shaking hands and saying hello when I was introduced to a chap by the name of ‘Bo’ Richards who had come from RAF Brawdy though I didn’t know him as I had long since left Brawdy before he had been posted there. We exchanged a handshake and as I introduced myself his eyes got wider as, after learning my name, he blurted out “Fuckin’ hell, you’re famous, you’re the guy that crapped in the bath !”
At this point in this particular ‘war story’ as I like to call them we have to rewind back to 1981 and exchange the brilliant sunshine of Dhahran for the fog and rain of Brawdy. Following a spate of ‘incidents’ during the course of a few months that included random acts of violence and general misbehaviour the powers that be decided to house all the likely suspects in one barrack block as opposed to having them scattered randomly throughout all four. So the Armourers and MT mechanics (deemed to be the joint worst offenders) together with the Flight Line Mechanics were all housed in 4 man rooms in Esmonde Block. This was probably the worst thing that they could have done but nevertheless it happened.
Following our rehousing we were subjected to more than the average number of inspections by the brass. On inspection day the cleaning duties for communal areas were divided up amongst the incumbents by room so the first 4 rooms might have the bottom floor corridor to attend to and the next two rooms might have the outside of the building and bikesheds to look after…you get the idea.
A couple of days prior to one of these inspections someone layed a cable in the bath. By that I don’t mean they were practising their wiring skills, I mean that they deliberately went into the bathroom and went into the end bath and crapped. News travelled fast. Before the turd had stopped steaming most of the block knew about it but no-one knew who had done it.
Well the shit hit the fan (pardon the pun) and it wasn’t long before the upper echelons of power got to hear of it and verified it to be true. No-one in the block would own up to doing it and furthermore no-one was prepared to remove the offending piece of excrement. I think it was Joe Codd the janitor who eventually removed it but the damage had been done and we were about to collectively pay for the deeds of just one man.
As a block we were subjected to a brutal regime of inspections carried out every monday by God himself, the Station Warrant Officer, who no-one crossed if they valued their well being. During one inspection after verbally assaulting one of my roommates he moved on to me. “Do you know why we are here lad ?” , he asked, “Yes Sir. Because someone shat in the bath Sir.”, I retorted. “DO YOU THINK THIS IS FUCKING FUNNY ?”, he bellowed, “No Sir.”, I replied and I wasn’t joking. He then began screaming at me to stand up straight and get my knees together which was kind of impossible. My Grandfather, a goalkeeper of some repute in his day, used to say I had ‘footballer’s legs’ referring to the slight bandyness I exhibited. The SWO wasn’t as kind screaming at me to get my legs together. “YOU COULDN’T STOP A PIG IN A FUCKING PASSAGE LAD !”. After terrorising me with a tirade of similar insults and finally telling me to get my hair cut (which would turn out to be the second of three haircuts I managed to get awarded that week) he moved on to his next victim.
As a conservative estimate I would say this torture went on for about 8 weeks. They even made us make bed packs which are usually only to be found on training units. Eventually they stopped and life went back to normal but still no-one was any wiser as to who had got us into this predicament in the first place.
The months passed and as is usual on any air force unit there are people posted in and people posted out constantly and eventually the turn came for ‘Harvey’ Hamilton to move on. Harvey was one of my roommates and had stood firm along with the rest of us during the relentless hunt for the doer of the dirty deed, denying any knowledge whatsoever as to who could have done it. On his very last day he came clean and fessed up to being the guy that everyone wanted to kill for making everybody in the barrack block suffer. He was the phantom crapper.
The crew that I hung around with were, to a man, all capable of being the crapper, myself included. Wherever trouble kicked off or some incident had occurred one of us would usually be either directly responsible or at the very least closely connected. I, along with my cohorts, was no stranger to the inside of the RAF Police interview room, mainly for general misdemeanours but never anything really serious so it’s little wonder that when someone told Bo that I was the guy who soiled the bathrooms he took it as read. But he was wrong.
On this occasion nothing bad happened as a result of being handed dodgy info – no money was lost, no credibility was lost, no friendships were ruined, but there is a moral to the tale in there. Whether you’re new to this game or a seasoned punter you really must try and verify that the info you are receiving is reliable or else you’re likely to end up with egg on your face like young Bo or worse than that you do a ton of money because someone you don’t know posts a ‘bank job’ on a Betfair forum and you blindly follow them in. Check and recheck before you commit your hard earned cash…you know it makes sense.
No bets for me today as other things got in the way. Back tomorrow