There I stood, looking down at my single metal framed bed, that had half the springs missing, and all the comfort of a plank.
If I sat on it in the wrong place, my butt would touch the floor, and escape would turn into a contortionists nightmare. The mattress had a plastic protective cover, that made every movement sound as if I were sleeping in a bin liner. The two woollen ( standard issue) blankets, equal to emery cloth in softness, were separated from the plastic mattress cover by two cotton sheets, of which, only one per week could be exchanged for a freshly laundered one, along with a matching pillow case. The pillows x 2, were stuffed with chicken feathers, the quills of which, would pierce the outer material and spear my head. Most pillows had been run over several times by a steam roller, or so it seemed. No matter how much they were lovingly fluffed up, they would instantly resume a flat as a pancake appearance.
For morning parade purposes, the edges were folded in and Hospital corners sealed the tomb. Bed Boxes were not required here, that was a blessing in itself.
The whole show was topped off with a counter-pane, one of two colours, pale yellow or lilac, that was so taut, a snooker ball could be rolled across its surface.
And I’ve just been reliably informed, by our Northern England correspondent, that assuming it was fully sprung, 3 men could sit side by side.
This was my retreat, my little corner, my escape into another world.
Once inside my envelope of rustling plastic, cold cotton sheets and stabbing chicken feathers, I looked up at the double fluorescent light tubes, that blazed down, showering their light into my exhausted world, my confused world. So much had changed over the past few weeks, and so fast, my feet had hardly touched the ground.
One minute I was on Mommy’s apron string, next minute, I was being bounced around a parade square, and now, and now here I am, lying on my pit, somewhere in Germany. Bloody Germany, I’d never left our beloved Island before, and yet here I was, caught in a tide of mixed emotions, somewhere that I’d never heard of.
The lights, bright enough for an airport, were still on, and would remain so, because it was only 2300hrs, and of the other 3 lads I shared the room with, only one was in. He was pressing his kit, I couldn’t see him, a large wooden Army locker stood in the way, but I could hear the dull thud, followed by the hiss of the iron as it came down onto the garment.
The smell of burning starch and diesel mixed with the steam that belched from under the Iron. The sound was quite rhythmic, pssst- thud-hiss.
The other two beds were empty, their neatness and silence filled my world with foreboding, because I knew, the occupants, two of the meanest, most unsympathetic, homicidal maniacs you could ever wish to meet, were out on the WAZ.
With the ironing done, the lights were turned off, but sleep did not come. The general noise of the other 100 or so occupants of the old barrack block were slowly muted, and replaced with an eerie silence, a frightening silence that amplified every drunken voice. Jovial laughter, pushing and shoving, hoots and hollows, the bash and clatter of the heavy swinging fire doors signaled the sweats return.
The sound of inebriated accents bellowed along the bare, stone corridor, the metallic clatter of a fire bucket being kicked like a football, raked the night.
And then, outside the door, drunken ssssshhhhh’s, loud enough to wake the dead, more drunken giggling as the door was opened, allowing the bright tidal wave of light from the corridor to spew in, and wash away the darkness, the darkness that hid me.
With the room now illuminated like the molineux on an evening kick off, the dogs could see the rabbit, the beasting began.
Tune in again for more nighty night bedtime stories, with me, the Bugs, soon.
Categories: LT COL BUMF, or was he a General?