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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Out went Soldier (Me), in came Civilian (Me) - 1985 - 1986

I walked out of the gates of the Royal Engineers Regimental Headquarters in Chatham Kent, as a civilian.  The process of handing in my ID card, Rail Pass and signing the forms releasing me from Military Service had been simple, nothing reflected the actual experiences of the last few years.  I was handed a red folder, my Record of Service, noting that I had been Medically Discharged (my mum told a friend who enquired about me that I had had a Mental Discharge!) and my conduct had been ‘Exemplary’.  Was it? Was I someone the Army was pleased to call one of their own, a soldier who had valiantly defended his country and Queen from all foes? 

True, I could have been posted to Northern Ireland during my last three years service; the Russians could have invaded, storming across the borders stretching from northern German, the Baltic States and down to the Greek borders and the Black Sea in the south.  The mass regiments of Russian T74 tanks, MIG fighters attacking, Russian infantry troops blowing the border defences.  Just as we laid minefields across the German countryside, digging trench after trench for our Infantry to man and repel the attackers. 
Could of happened, but no doubt, given my behaviour whilst posted there, when called upon I would have been in a far more exotic and warm battlefield, as I manoeuvred myself across the sheets into position for a full out attack on the current girl I was seeing, totally unaware, oblivious until the bomb dropped!  I am not an apologist for my behaviour, only a chronicler and as such, write this at a distance.  You make your own mind up as to your own acceptance and attitude towards it (my behaviour that is).

Note the shit signature, I started practising my signature (as an autograph) once i decided i was going to be famous after i left the Army.....what a bighead........and........a twat.

I picked up the Red Book, shook hands with the Officer in Charge and wandered out into the autumn sunshine.  Walking out of the gates as a civilian after all this work to enact my discharge from service, I felt suddenly sad and a lump arose in my throat, I felt alone again, I was leaving a family, one I did not really get on with to be truthful, but still, one with brothers I loved as my own who I hoped to meet again and did do so, but for now, back to Norwich I went, seeking my own family again, where no questions were asked beyond my mother who asked which bedroom I wanted?  The one over the garage or my usual one over the living room, the one I had shared with Julian and Richard as we grew up. 
I chose the on over the Living room, as it was bigger, could accommodate a double bed for any highly anticipated shagging sessions and because I was allowed to paint it any colour I liked.  Mum's agreement to this was to be tested to the extreme as one evening I took a girlfriend to (several) screaming orgasms on the edge of the bed, as mum watched TV in the room below and worried for the strength of the light fitting over her head and I was subjected to a frosty look, no toast and an offer of a thick ear the next morning.
I had a few thousand pounds in the bank and so coasted for weeks as I settled back into Norwich, catching up with my brothers, Julian and Mark and sister Helen.  My brother Richard was in London, with the Met Police, managing the capitals crime wave singlehandedly it seemed and succeeding in acquiring new skills as he tracked through a selection of highly roles, armed response, diplomatic protection, high speed police car driving to mention three and seeking promotion to Police Sergeant and achieving it. 
I have written little of Richard in this Blog to date, probably because he is a private person to some degree, in my view a product of moving away to “the smoke” (London), aged eighteen and staying there, unlike a lightweight such as myself who had to keep popping back home for some reassurance and home cooking.  Richard is an astounding man, someone I look up to, love and cherish, counting myself lucky that he is my brother.   He has succeeded in everything he has set out to do and I look at him in awe and envy.

He was living near Greenwich and I went to see him and his wife Tracey and spent a few nights being entertained to curries, lager, and rugby stories, envying his proximity to London’s nightlife.  He told me it was not all it was cracked up to be, I felt he was missing the trick, with all the glamour on offer, but then I was single, he was married and our world view was different.  I played Rugby with him just once; he had travelled back to Norwich and was asked to turn out for his old team, Lakenham Hewitt Rugby Club and he asked me to run the wing as they were a man short.
Typically, I avoided confrontation on all but the most necessary of occasions in the game and on being told by my opposite number that he would “rip my fucking head off” if I actually got the ball, managed to avoid handling the thing for most of the game and had developed in my head during the first half various scenarios in which I would have been able to hand the ball to him, should I get the chance.  I was not concerned about my back, more my face, as I liked it, as did most of the women I met and hence wanted to retain its looks for as long as possible.

By now, Julian was a full blown, dreadlock wearing hippy/Rastafarian, living in a rundown terrace house, surrounded by ‘bongo drums’ and unnamed individuals who contributed to the organic growth of the house by leaving an array of cannabis seeds in pots, empty Rizzla packets on the floor and beer cans drained of the contents, some of it staining the carpet/rugs.  As you approached his house you could hear Marley, ONU, Floyd, etc, booming from his Wharfedale speakers, drawing you towards the door, which when opened by Jules with a "Hi Man, come in, Tea?", felt overwhelmingly welcoming.  That fact was that he resembled Gary Oldmans character in the film True Romance, (not a pimp!), but in looks, mattered not and a seat was always avilable for "Jonny" as he called me, and offered me a spliff. 
Huge couches, which had no right fitting into the house, provided a home to bodies, cats and pet rats, old school friends visited to get high and flake out in corners of the house.  I would enter gingerly stepping over bodies.  On other occasions the place would be sparklingly clean (still grotty, only the dust had been moved about a bit) but always with a moist smelling fug of pot floating in the air, like a cool brand of air freshener, that had been liberally sprayed about.
I met up again with old family friend’s Doreen and Barry, who has moved to Norfolk not long after we had.  Doreen and mum still went to Benidorm every November for a girly two weeks.  Living at the Diplomat hotel and going to dances in the afternoons, drinking cafe' con leche', or tumblers full of coffee laced with Irish Brandy and smoking long Sobranie Cigarettes, with their colourful paper telling onlookers how sophisticated they were.  Mum also smoked small cigars and 'More' cigarettes, both on holiday and at home should the ‘special’ occasion warrant it.  

When very short on cash, I would raid mums stash of More(s), but only smoke them around the house for fear of being seen with them in hand by anyone outside the house.  Mum knew I nicked them obviously and eventually began secrete packs of Marlboro around the house, hoping I’d leave hers alone.

Fortunately, within a few weeks of being home, I met Doreen’s daughter Sarah-Jane, who was seeing an old school friend of mine, Nigel Bradley or Brad, and so would begin the second phase of my adulthood, the first phase being my Army career (or lack of it!).  This second phase covers the period 1985 through to 1990 and will involve, travel, temptation, sexual conquests, failed romances, becoming a George Michael Lookalike (I have photos, and I am prepared to use them, so there HA!) and emotional turmoil.  Off to do the research now!


  1. Haha JW I love it, i miss your swearing tantrums at least now am going to read all snout them.

    Keep up the great work

  2. And by snout I mean about! Obviously.