Who Am I? Part Two


375811_4123703570261_303439096_nIt’s worth mentioning that I’ve called this series of posts “Who Am I ” for a reason, which will become clearer in due course…

My time in the army was very up and down. I’d wanted to join something that I thought would be worthwhile, that would give me a sense of purpose and where I could experience comradeship. I certainly had all that most of the time while I was training at Wood Green Karate Club. But to me, the army was a big disappointment. The adverts on the TV suggested that you would have real mates in the forces, but I found it to be just the opposite. Your friends would steal from you, and the animosity at times towards those who didn’t fit in was quite disturbing. I’d originally set my heart on signing for three years in The Royal Tank Regiment. But on the day that I went to sign on the dotted line I opted to join The Royal Artillery for nine years. You could sign for three, six or nine years and the longer you signed for, the higher your pay. That was the only reason I opted for the nine-year stint.

It soon became very apparent that the army in general was a very hypocritical organisation. I felt that I couldn’t trust anyone and I grew to hate it. The trouble was, I couldn’t just quit like it was an everyday job. I had to wait until I’d served over three years, then I was able to buy myself out. It cost me £300 in 1979, which was a lot of money back then. I don’t regret joining though, because I did have a hoot as well. I very quickly became a very heavy drinker (the beer in Germany, where I was stationed, is very smooth and easy to drink). I lived for alcohol and consumed vast amounts during my time in Dortmund with 26 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. I kept the lads entertained with my impressions and pranks, but I would also become very quiet and withdrawn. The emotional pain was very intense, and the more I hurt inside, the more I tried to drink it away.

Germany is a beautiful country and I would go out quite often on my own and try to meet Germans. The soldiers had a very bad reputation, which was deserved, for causing trouble, so I tried to steer clear of all that. When I did go out with the lads we normally had a lot of fun, but I really enjoyed mixing with Germans in my regular haunts; the kind of places that, in general, the squaddies did not frequent. My moods were becoming increasingly more up and down, to the extent that it started to affect my relationships within the battery. Looking back, it would be true to say that some of my behaviour could have been considered strange and it wasn’t until years later that I understood what I had been experiencing. It got to the point where I’d had enough, but didn’t see a way out. Then one morning on parade an opportunity came my way.

They wanted a lower rank to volunteer for duties in the officers mess. I knew there was a huge regimental parade coming up that would have meant a lot of tedious work. I thought to myself, if I volunteer to go in the mess it will keep me out-of-the-way and I’ll avoid having to take part in the parade. My hand shot up, and there were no other takers. It also gave me respite from the mundane, day-to-day life within the battery. My time in the officers mess was the best time of my army “career”. Me and the other lads in there got up to all sorts; I felt like a naughty schoolboy and had an absolute blast. I couldn’t possibly relate all the stuff we got up to here on my blog. I’m obviously not the same person I was all those years ago, so a lot of what we did would not be appropriate to be shared here. However…

One thing I will share, because at the time it was just so funny. We would get the unwitting officers to pay for our alcohol. The system was that if an officer wanted a drink from the bar they did not pay cash. They had to sign a chitty. The chitties would all be added up and the total cost was taken from their salary on a monthly basis. So the trick was that if an officer wanted a gin and tonic, we got them to sign the chitty and when their back was turned we would put extra drinks on it. None of them ever checked their final monthly bills, so as long as we didn’t do anything silly we got away with it. All good things, unfortunately, have to come to an end. My emotional pain was ever-present and my odd behaviour continued to be noticed. I was in a very withdrawn state one day whilst serving some afternoon tea. One of the officers I was serving was my own Battery Commander. He was actually a very nice and genuine man, and he became concerned at how I looked. He asked me what was wrong but I didn’t answer. Eventually, after some probing I burbled an answer that indicated I was unhappy and wanted to leave. It was decided that if I really felt the way I did, then I should watch the notice board for any postings that may come up.

Before long I saw a posting advertised for the Salisbury Plain Range Detachment (SPRD) back in the UK. I applied for it and was soon on my way. It was probably one of the most dead-end jobs in the army. I think I arrived some time in March 1979 and by the end of December I was out; a civilian again. SPRD drove me around the bend, but luckily we had a great commander; a captain who’d come up through the ranks. He understood how I felt and didn’t stand in my way. So, £300 lighter, I was back in the world. I made sure I got a job before leaving; a live-in job at a hotel near Ascot in Berkshire. My relationship with my dad had broken down completely by this time so I did not want to go home to London.

The hotel was situated in an area that was a completely different world to me. Even back in 1979/1980 the properties around there cost more money than most people will ever see in their whole lifetime. The area was full of very well-to-do people, some famous actors and also royalty moved in shortly after I left. I soon realised that the hotel was not for me and that I really missed Germany. I decided that I would apply for a job with NAAFI and try to get back to Germany. I seem to remember making a phone call; where I got the number from I don’t know, and being invited to Kennington in London for an interview. A few weeks later, in March 1980, I was on my way back to Germany. I was going to work at the main NAAFI shop in Münster-Gremmendorf. Oh what fun we had…..

To be continued..

Who Am I? Part One


12507605_10208528804956970_2772509710964300610_nHere is the first part of my story about my own personal journey, as mentioned in my post “What’s Occurring”, from waaaaaaaaay back in January. Just to recap, many of my newer followers will not be aware of the dark place from which I’ve emerged and I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the story but also adding stuff that I’ve not mentioned before..

I was born into a “normal” working class family in Harringay, North London many moons ago in 1955. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I never felt that I belonged anywhere, which wasn’t a very nice feeling, and I was too young and unconscious at the time to understand why. I just wanted to belong somewhere and I would switch from long periods of being quite reclusive, to hanging out with various groups of friends who would inevitably turn out to be the wrong crowd. It was quite hard for me within the family because I was considered to be a bit of an odd ball. I had an extremely difficult relationship with my dad, and it wasn’t until many years later that I understood why he was the way he was. I had a very loving relationship with my mother, although when I reached adulthood, that also became very difficult; albeit for different reasons. Then there was my older brother, who also had a very difficult relationship with our father. We were opposites in every way, and to this day it is extremely rare that our paths cross.

My mother would go to those funny churches where they apparently communicate with the dead, and my dad would laugh at her! I was too young to understand what it was all about back then, but little did I know that many years later I would be spending a lot of my time in such establishments. As I got older I got more and more confused and would often feel the most excruciating emotional pain within my body.

I left school at 15 with no qualifications, and had I not left voluntarily, I would have been removed. I wasn’t bad, it was just that I did not care about school and got involved with the wrong crowd. As a result I did very little school work, and just spent my time engaging in pranks. By the time I was 17 I’d had 24 jobs; I thought it was clever to be in and out of work so I counted them…

My parents were in despair and there was constant friction between me and my dad; as I got older I resented him more and more. The friction between us was exacerbated by the fact that I was now old enough to understand what was going on in my parents’ relationship. His frequent cheating and bullying completely destroyed any confidence that my mother had, to the point that she became nothing more than a doormat. I’d also started taking drugs, but nothing really hard. I never used needles, it was mainly smoking cannabis and taking a few pills here and there. At this point alcohol didn’t play a big role in my life. But if I was smoking cannabis or “dropping a few tabs”, several bottles of strong beer (it was Barley Wine back then, vile stuff!) helped things along very nicely, thank you very much!

When I got to about 17 I started to wise up a bit, and by the time I was 18 my working life became more settled. My jobs were lasting longer, but I was still not good psychologically and I was still taking drugs and drinking a bit more. Just before my 19th birthday I joined Wood Green Karate club (we moved to Wood Green in 1972). It was then that my life started to change. The instructor, a man named John Hawke, was a very big personality and he was the first real role model I ever had. I was a bit younger than most of the other lads, but we had a really good dynamic and for the first time ever I felt as though I had some worth; I felt like I belonged. For a couple of years things went swimmingly well; in spite of the constant tension within the household. I’d stopped taking drugs but social drinking, mainly with the lads from the Karate club became an important part of my life.

Things came to a head again in 1976. I had hamstring problems in both legs, which stopped me from training properly and I became disillusioned with Karate. My emotional pain was as alive as ever, but I was much more sensible than the boy who’d had 24 jobs in two years and I decided I needed a radical change. I applied to join the police force but was declined an interview. I then applied to join the British Transport Police but was also declined an interview. We all thought it had something to do with the fact that my brother had acquired a police record and had served time in young offenders institutes and later he’d served time in prison. So, I decided I would join the RAF and I went down to their recruitment office in The Strand in Central London. I passed all the tests but they had no vacancies for what I wanted to do. Later that night I remembered that I’d seen an army recruitment office very close to the RAF office, so the next day I went back down to The Strand and applied to join the army. I was accepted and after a bit of indecision I opted to join The Royal Artillery.

To be continued….

Britain’s Got Rabies


woolwichI don’t normally write posts such as this; and indeed I have been putting it off for nearly two weeks for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means entering into the murky world of politics, and secondly, I’m not 100% certain that I can write this article from the standpoint of an observer as opposed to one who is passing judgement. But, I feel that it is the right thing to do so here goes.

At the time of writing it is now two weeks to the day since a young soldier was hacked to death in broad daylight in close proximity to the army barracks in Woolwich, South East London; the same barracks where I did my basic training as a Royal Artillery soldier in 1976/77. This appalling atrocity was perpetrated by two fanatical extremists who had been apparently radicalized by what the British press likes to refer to as “preachers of hate”. I will not refer to anybody involved in such a despicable act as a Muslim because it is an insult to Muslims the world over to be compared with such people. However, the two perpetrators claimed to have carried out this act in the name of Islam. The unfortunate thing in these situations is that it gives vile organisations such as The English Defence League (EDL) and Muslim haters in general a reason to crawl out of their cesspits and spew their own brand of bile. The last time I looked there had been over 160 reported reprisal attacks on Muslims and mosques; this includes at least two attempts at burning mosques down.

The likes of the EDL do not have any place in society. The motives for their actions are so blatantly racial and their members appear not to share but one brain cell between them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but when the IRA carried out a sustained campaign of terror over several decades, during which hundreds of people were killed and maimed, nobody went around torching Catholic churches did they? After all, the IRA were apparently representing the Catholic community of Northern Ireland, and when they started blowing up mainland Britain, surely that would have given justification to the torching of the odd Catholic church here and there. Wouldn’t it?

woolwich 2I am actually writing this article as someone who is quite disturbed. Disturbed by the fact that in 2013 a young man can be hacked to death on the streets of the country in which I live, after the perpetrators first of all mounted the pavement in their car and ran him down. Disturbed by the fact that in 2013, organisations such as the EDL are able to operate quite legally in the country in which I live. Within hours of the incident the EDL were on the streets of Woolwich stirring up their own brand of hate.

From a spiritual perspective these incidents always remind me of the Law Of Reflection, or “As Within, So Without”. It gives us a chance to see first hand exactly what is still going on within the collective heart of mankind. Heaven help us!