Copyright 2011 Ken Smith
It was the worst winter ever, the Mother of all winters. It began snowing on Boxing Day, and now, the first week of January, it was snowing even harder. In fact, it snowed until March. Last evening I’d arrived at HMS Ganges training annexe, with an assortment of other would-be-sailors, and placed in the capable hands of a spotty faced Junior Instructor (JI) and a bullet proof Gunnery Instructor (GI) who wore crossed guns on both lapels. The only thing I can remember of that awesome night, apart from collecting a kit bag and filling it to capacity with kit, was sobbing myself to sleep. Oh, and that I ate the biggest meal I’d ever eaten in my entire fifteen years of life, the kindly chef asking me whether I intended to eat the mountain of food I’d heaped on my plate or climb it.
I suppose five-thirty in the morning was a civilised time to have my brain squeezed from my scull by a bugle call, Reveille, and to the voice of that massive GI screaming, “Hands off cocks. On socks!”
How did he know I was doing that?
Looking pretty in candy-striped pyjama bottoms and naked chests, he ordered us across the parade ground, through the snow and ice, to the Heads - that grown-up pottyland which had neither doors nor partitions around the bowls for privacy - to partake in our morning ablutions. It was a most embarrassing experience, an experience that will haunt me for the rest of my life.