1996 – Another world cup, another headache
The year 1996 rolled on by as nonchalantly as a passing used tampon in the wind. The highlights for me in that year was the shower of shit I got into. It was the precipice to my undoing and to a certain degree I think the roots of that downward spiral had begun way back in 1992.
You see, on a weekend you didn’t stay in. You just didn’t do it. If you did, you were a boring fucker. There were a couple of lads in our Troop who never went out. If I was to say that was the right thing to do, I’d be lying. It’d be like saying we were wrong to say the stuff we said and did back then, because back then it was okay in our circles. For me that’s okay. None of this historical abuse bullshit; when accepted practices of our past become unacceptable for our future ‘snowflake’ generations. Fuck them and the Xbox Horses they rode in on. Long may the snowflakes melt under a tirade of ‘cunts’, ‘fucks’ and ‘twats’. Nuff said, rant over. Moving on…
The NAAFI was my second home in 1996. I’d be sat there at 11am with a lad called ‘Tribey’ with a bottle of vino, patiently waiting for the NAAFI bar to open at 12 noon – FUCKING SHARP! To anyone else walking in on us, we looked like a romantic, gay couple having a chat and having a bottle of wine to ourselves. I might add here, that we weren’t sharing a bottle of wine, but had one bottle each and we were drinking from the bottle. (GASP! What!?) Yes, we were refined gentlemen of the British Army and this was our custom. Sometimes we’d use mugs.
This NAAFI had just recently converted to pouring lager in draught rather than bottles and cans. That alleviated the problem of the barman being canned at 11pm.
Tribey lit up another cigarette and glanced at his watch. “Five more minutes, Dougy,” he said in his mackam accent.
“Who’s round is it?”
“I got the last ones in,” he grinned. “Looks like it’s you sunshine, best get your wallet out.”
He did get the round in as well, the fucker. Still, at 1.50DM, it was peanuts. I looked at him. No, I mean really looked at him. You know what I mean? You see someone, but you don’t really see them. When you concentrate and focus on them, it’s different. He’s bald you see and he was only 24, the poor bastard, but he doesn’t give a fuck. Just sat there, inhaling the cigarette smoke and blowing it into the air, without a fucking care in the world – feet propped up on the chair opposite like a fucking pharaoh.
If only I could have that confidence. For me, confidence grew the more pissed I got. Karaoke and shite like that. I’d be up and break dancing like a stupid twat, and I didn’t give two fucks.
Weekends roll into one
On a day session you get different types of people, you’ve got us. You’ve got the guys who walk in with a newspaper and are content to have a pint or two, watch the footy on the box and leave at 3pm. They’re the old crusty bombardiers, recently divorced, room like a fucking palace – four man room to themselves – they’d have a bass broom moustache and were seldom fat. Then you’ve got the couples who walk in with their kids, have a pint, then fuck off : thank fuck, pain in the arse. Then there’s the odd anomaly who’d turn up absolutely smashed and get refused a beer – there weren’t many of those about, and I turned into one of those for a period of time.
For 1996 we were like fucking lions, hearts of Lamborghinis, metabolic rates going like a highly tuned engine, hardly any fat on us, whippets, hangovers gone by the afternoon the next day. Not like today, old fucking fart that I am now, takes me 3 fucking days to recover. Jaaaysuz! It’s that bad I’ve just stopped drinking. Back then though, yeah, you get the picture. It’s two pm and we’re onto our 4th beer – it’s the stamina, long haul pace – not the turbo pace. More people come in. You’ve got characters and legends from that year…. I could name a few… you’ve got your Daves, there’s a few of those in that frame of memory with Batey, Eder, Tribey, there’s Badger…. fucking Badger…. fuckin’ love you Badger. Then there was Reggie Mould and a whole crew of guys from the Command Troop lot as well as Radar Troop where I belonged. There were scandals and newspaper articles from that time, not sure I can talk about them to be honest.
The afternoon rolled into one, it rolled into the evening, no distinguishing features. No dinner, no TV shows, just McEwans Lager and Newcastle Brown Ale, toilets to piss in, then sitting down smoking a Hamlet cigar. What toll does this have to the human body? It must take a fair toll, but at the time, I didn’t give a f… you guessed it. No wonder I got sent to Wegberg, but that’s another story I’ll tell later.
I’m not sure what really happened, but I think I was woken up by the BONCO, that’s Battery Orderly Non-Commissioned Officer, basically a Lance Bombardier or Bombardier.
It was Sunday afternoon.
“Dougy. Hey, Dougy.” I felt like I was being shaken. I opened eyes to a world whose angles were all wrong. Slowly they converged and I’m seeing a guy in front of me. I’m breaking out of the fug, but at the moment I’m still trying to piece the world, this Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure I knew who’d just woken me and what day it was. “You alright mate?” His voice is edged with concern and I mean, real concern. It’s Hepburn. I know that. What’s his first name? Alan? Audrey?
“Yeah,” I manage to wheeze out of my dry parched mouth. My mouth feels like someone just poured sawdust into it. I turn to look at the brown, carpet and see lots of black furry things on the ground. Caterpillars? “What the fuck?”
“I think you best get up, Dougy,” Heppy says to me, and I notice there’s someone behind him. It’s the Regimental Orderly Sergeant…. and the Regimental Orderly Officer. It’s a Warrant Officer as he’s a crusty old fuck. Oh fuck… have I murdered some fucker?
“Who did this to yer?” I was asked. “Where’ve you been?” Then I can hear people being questioned in the corridor and shouts.
“What the fuck!!!” I can hear ‘Wack’ Walker’s voice of alarm and there’s humour in it. Still pissed up. There’s a laugh and now I’m laughing as I look into the inside mirror of my locker door. The cunts.
What the fuck have they done to me??