Archive for July 2012
Costa Rica.. Snakes,bulls,naked surfing,really hot women and things I should never talk about..All in good time..
Ok.. So I’m off on a new adventure tomorrow and have no idea how often I’ll have a chance to update my blog. Still got so many things to write about (some crazy times in Costa Rica).
I will be going to a project in Bosnia for a few weeks then working on a farm near Pisa in Italy. Don’t know how long I’ll be away. I’ll just have to see how things go.
I also do Bar Mitzvah’s and funeral wake’s.
Returning again to my old stomping ground with tail firmly between my legs, I begin to explain my reasons for leaving Military training while packing another fun filled order of fruit with my old chums in Edinburgh. I couldn’t sign away four years of my life. Not for anything. Not for anyone.
Training was fun. An experience, but my heart was never really in it. I waste no time at all in making phone calls that will get me the hell out of Scotland and back on the road again. With plans set in motion for yet another overseas adventure I was riding high upon a cheerful note that day I came across it.
. . .
It Mooed like an elephant -when you push the button on the end-, looked awesome and had to be mine. At just £1.50 it felt almost rude not to.
Making up for last year’s Halloween party where I was the only person without costume, I buy what will surely be the most daring, show-stopping costume of all. They won’t forget about this for a while, but first I need a trial run.
The day before Halloween and I’m working in a fruit factory packing boxes to be delivered to schools. I wait until everyone’s enjoying their dinner, blissfully unaware of my intentions as I stroll out to use the microwave wearing nothing but an elephant thong which barely fits me. My manager and his wife sit shaking their heads at me almost in disbelief, but not completely surprised. They’ve known me long enough to expect this sort of behaviour.
Not everyone’s here I notice and I dart outside to startle the smokers with some cartwheels and grotesque shaking of my trunk not noticing the CCTV cameras covering every inch of the compound.
I’m not sacked and an absence of Police makes me assume that my costumes gained the right response however the question still remains “What will the pub think”?
On a cold November night at The Newbridge Inn I enter the main bar finding that only one friend and the bar staff have costumes. The rest have bottled it. I change in the toilet as I would rather avoid being added to any registers for the time being, put my woolly hat on and make my entrance.
As I walk through, taking my usual seat at the bar with the main door directly behind me, I’m met with silence as jaws hit the floor and eyes boggle. “What the fuck”? Seems to be the question on everyone’s mind as I casually order my pint almost forgetting I’m naked.
Taking up the microphone, I sing songs from Britney Spears and Nellie the Elephant like a true wild man. Skipping later on at one point with a length of rope my friends brought as part of his robber costume I trip, rolling backwards exposing all for the unfortunate onlookers letting my hairy ass take place in their nightmares forever.
As the night draws to a close I decide to take this show on the road and make my way towards the local bowling club where the neighbourhood watch hang out. Stopping at the window’ I shoogle my trunk at a group enjoying their meal then tangled in a fence while performing unsuccessful acrobatics, I’m freed only by the smokers who stand outside.
Could have been worse..I could have worn this -notice the lack of room for ‘plumbs’- To the folk at work who did see me wear this: Bet you’ll never eat meatballs again!
About a week later thinking I’m in the clear I enter the living-room of my house only to find my Mum watching my performance on You-Tube. I do promise never to do it again. But.. You know the score.
S5 in all its glory
Back from our first weekend out of camp we’re called to line and ordered to down two litre bottles of water in two minutes or else it’s refilled and started again. It’s a lot harder than it sounds as a soldier either side of me heaves sending spray across both my legs.
Marched into a large hall we’re left to stew and squirm for two hours while they slowly invite us in one by one and check our piss for traces of drugs and after a third hour my dick feels as if it’s going to burst. I’m going to piss my pants and I have to go now!
I race towards the toilet and thunder out two litres of piss that seems to blast out all at once. It feels great and I don’t think to save a single drop. Entering the hall I freeze at the sight of only three people remaining in the queue.
Darting back in I slam on the tap and drink like a fish before the sound of a voice hits me like a brick “Corporal says you’ve to stop drinking from the tap. You’re up now”.
Nerves are frayed as I walk in dripping of sweat and pick up my tube. I have no piss left, disobeyed a direct order not to go to the toilet and they’re already suspicious of me as they know my drug history.
*Note to one’s- self. When asked what drugs you’ve tried in the past by your Platoon Sergeant, just lie.
My hand shakes as I’m escorted to the bathroom by a Corporal whose sole mission is to make this as awkward as Hell. I can’t pee around others at the best of times but this is unbearable.
I really don’t need and this time I have an audience commanding it from me. Eventually I dribble just enough to reach the required level but the teasing and taunts about my results would keep them amused for weeks before finally trying to convince me I’d failed the test. Yeah, good one lads. I’m a good boy now. Maybe not as forthcoming with my integrity anymore but it’s all good!
Rules n’ regs
After almost five weeks of sleeping on the floor because I didn’t want to ruin my perfectly made bed we’re given certain privileges, taken from us at every opportunity, that include comfy duvets (pink horses supplied by our Corporal) plus posters and photos from home in the hope of distracting the Sergeant during room inspections.
My photos from Turkey and evening chat on-line to the missus -Did I forget to mention I married in Turkey? Not a real wedding, just showing us how it’s done there. We’ve been chatting a lot recently and now I wouldn’t mind going back to Turkey- makes me start to think seriously about what I’m getting myself in for. In the army I can’t just drop everything and do what I want. I need to think about this. I need more time.
More like it! Yeah, fuck off about the Hannah Montana thing. That was just a laugh..and it went well with my pink horses.
I kind of have the feeling my minds been made up for me now anyway as I have the reputation of being a drug fiend that will surely follow me to battalion no matter how well I do in PT (Physical training). That and the fact I have a complete mental block when it comes to rifle training!
I had my section in stitches during one class where just as we were being told “never pull this leaver right out of your rifle..” BOOM!
The sound of my rifle dismantling itself and shooting across the room in bits after I pull that leaver right out. “RITCHIE YA WEE PRICK”! Would soon become an all too common phrase from an increasingly aggravated corporal losing the rag at a man losing the will to live.
Speaking of losing the will to live. I remember one instance while we all stood waiting to enter a class. A soldier walking by informs us that he’d just came from a lecture about depression and suicide and had this one helpful little thought for us:
“Why kill yourself? Why not wait until you’re on the firing range, slap on a full magazine of thirty rounds and take out half your platoon? You’ll be famous!”The high ranking officer walking by did not look best pleased with that but you really can’t beat the army for good banter, fun and games!
Emm..Not what it looks like..
Three months into my training and during my two week window of time where I have to decide to stay for four years or pack it in, I throw in the towel and leave behind some great friends and memories not to be soon forgotten.
It wasn’t easy to leave training. Charrington hid my letter of resignation and together with some other mates almost talked me out of it. Once my mind was made up I had to go to a Sargent Major (I think that’s what he was) and explain why I wanted out. He threw me out of his office four times for making the wrong entrance. At one point while marching towards him, I spun on my heels in an effort to throw my salute and kneed the table sending his pens and paper work almost to the ground.
This was the scariest man I have ever met in my life. On one of our first days he introduced himself with “I am the reason your Mother said don’t talk to strangers. I am Stranger Danger”! This is the man who will kick us into touch if we’re out of line.
He was a nice guy though. He told me not to leave. The report he had about me was that I was doing well. My run time plus general fitness was good although my weapon skills and saluting needed work. I was told there are no jobs out there. I’d regret leaving and they’d see me back within six months.
But my mind was made. I felt like an idiot for leaving but I don’t think my heart was ever really in it. I learned a lot, had a lot of laughs and met some crazy cats. If truth be told then I only really joined because I had to get a girl out of my head. Stupid reason I know but I think it worked!
Thirty three grand it costs to put a man through training. Thirty three grand and worth every penny. The food is great.
So back to civy street I go. But lets not get too comfortable now as it’s looking like that time. Time to see the world. Again.
Says it all really
V.A.I.N Who’s da man?
Into my first month of training with Scots five of The Royal Regiment Of Scotland and we’re getting beasted (disciplined) again for a few days in the Yorkshire hills of England.
My section composes of eleven guys and our Corporals going nuts. Camp can’t be made until we get the hand signals right under the cover of darkness, but my glasses have steamed up and I can’t see for shit.
We’re in staggered formation which means there’s between five and ten meters between each of us. The man in front gives a signal and we pass it one by one down the line. I make up my own signals much to the annoyance of Corporal Pew. Yeah, I can admit that now IT WAS ME!
We’re made to run around a massive track every time we get it wrong while wearing our full gear including rifle, ammo webbing, two litre water bottles, backpack, fucking horrible boots and a giant helmet that makes me look like a magical mushroom from Super Mario World.
“Last five go again”. We’re told, but he makes us all go regardless. Still we push and shove aiming never to be the last five.
Sometime after midnight we crawl back to the forest our platoon, made from around fifty men, call home for the night. I’m as-well walking with my eyes shut it’s so dark. Ever saw the films Blair Witch Project or Dog Soldiers?!
My friend and I go on stag (lookout) first while the rest build their two man shelters made up from a poncho tied to four trees about two feet of the ground with just enough room to crawl into. Our stag position was built during the day, but now we’re seriously lost trying to find it. My ass is going to have a size ten, steel toed boot up it if my Corporal finds out about this. We give up and just lie on the ground deciding that this is the new lookout point for the night.
Cullinan goes to wake up the next in line while I wait keeping our makeshift position secure. I assume he will take the next soldier to where I am, but after about an hour of waiting I begin to realise it’s not happening.
Eventually I make my way back not knowing if I’m going the wrong way or if I’m about to walk through my Sergeant’s tent. Luckily I do neither and make it back to a whispered chorus of “Where the fuck have you been”? I crawl into bed removing my satchel, helmet, rifle and body armour only to be woken up less than ten minutes later for another turn to keep watch.
With one eye resting against the sights of my rifle I drifted off. Maybe only for a few seconds but I startle awake when another of our Corporals kneels at my side and quietly asks how it’s going. He didn’t notice. How fucking lucky do I feel? Especially after seeing what happens to people who get caught napping on stag. Thirty minutes later and I’m back in bed again.
The air fills with the clatter of machine gun fire and I answer the call of “Stand to”, by flipping open my sleeping bag, rolling over onto my chest, pulling on my body armour, helmet, rifle and slapping on a full magazine of thirty rounds. I heard of one guy from a previous platoon who woke everyone by firing a shot by mistake while keeping it in his sleeping bag –as we all have to do- but thank fuck that wasn’t me! I fire at anything that moves. Our Corporals are attacking us and we have to give em what for.
Side by side next to my friend I soon realise I chose the wrong side of the shelter as I’m sprayed in the face by red hot casings ejected from the rifle Cullinan fires. I’m sure my sleeping bags on fire and a bullet casing has landed right between my bum cheeks causing me tremendous pain that I can do nothing about, but continue shooting at my Corporal.
In the morning we have one hour to have everything ready. This includes cleaning our rifles, washing off camouflage, shaving, eating, cleaning impossibly burnt pans, polishing boots, packing away everything and re-applying cammo plus numerous other tedious tasks. During this time my Sergeant roars in an alarming, familiar tone “RITCHIE”! I grab my helmet and start to run while adjusting my rifle to avoid the same punishment dealt to those who neglect parts of their kit. An hour of Leopard crawl is something to avoid if possible.
I arrive on front of a crowd of Corporals, my Sergeant and Lieutenant. I’m in shit for sure. They must know I got lost last-night and now they’re gonna rape me and bury my corpse deep in the forest I think to myself.
“Tell us a story.” Suddenly they look cheerful and relaxed. My arse is still going like a rabbit’s nose. I’m known for being the one with the jokes and funny stories, so I tell them a few, can’t recall which ones but, we have a bit of banter then they let me go.
Eventually I trod back to my Section. They’re all ready to go and I’ve done nothing. Standing in line we wait to be inspected one by one. Every time we’ve not done something perfectly we get made to run with rifles and helmets around an area the size of a football pitch and you HAVE to beat the man on front of you. I do well when I’m sent to run, but every-time I get back I’m sent back out for something else I’ve done wrong.
In my head I can’t stop saying the words “This is fucking shit, this is fucking shit”, while running on blisters the size of eggs with that horrible SA80 assault rifle banging around while the strap tears at my shoulder.
We’re offered a lift back to camp. We know we’ll get in shit if we accept so we keep quiet and get on with the long, gruelling run ahead. God I wanted that lift so bad. We all struggle to make it back to the barracks in one piece, my blisters tore off near the start and I’m now running on naked flesh grinding on the insides of these boots, but everyones in the same boat and we pull through encouraging, dragging and pushing each-other until home and dry. Thank fuck that’s over.
“Same time tomorrow lads”.
Aye, smell yer Maw!
Nothing like a strict military diet eh?
to be continued..
Alberobello..Cool place in Southern Italy. No one knows what those markings on the roof mean..All I know is that I passed my flu on to EVERYONE
Dragging my cold, wet feet through the large puddle Edinburgh had become, I draw my jacket collar to my chin and hunch forward hurrying towards the bus shelter. It’s my day off work and my mood reflects the sky, cold and miserable.
While contemplating my place in the world I raise my head just in time to watch the bus fly by and as my eyes fix upon a the green illuminated sign above the building across from me reading Army Careers I shout “Fuck it” and step inside the warm reception room.
I’d always wondered how my physical fitness compared to that of trained soldiers and needing a break from being me I arrange an Interview beginning the process of singing up to The Royal Regiment Of Scotland.
It went much faster that I could have imagined and before I knew it I was going to camps and laying down run times, strength tests and urine samples that would eventually see me precede towards a stretch at Catterick’s training barracks.
Having already made an impression in pre-training demolishing an obstacle course that had obviously been too well camouflaged for me (I ran over the top of a netted crawl obstacle and fucked it up), getting lost during my timed run and turning up with a long beard and mow hawk hairstyle, I earn the nicknames Mad Monk and Lieutenant Dan before making plans to visit friends in Italy and Germany for one last big blow out.
Losing a whole week of holiday due to an Icelandic volcano spewing ash all over Europe, I land in Bari with the flu and ears that won’t pop for the next few days. So far so good eh!
I’m shown some spectacular places in the South of Italy including Matera (Passion of the Christ) before making my own way North through Rome where I finally step inside the Colosseum , Florence where my train smashes on the brakes due to a drunk falling on the tracks (British tourist) and Venice where I book into a one star hotel. After two days lost in the land of gondoliers I say adios to Italy and guten Tag to Germany.
Arriving in Munich I buy a ticket for a later train to Hamburg and set out in search of an Internet cafe at six am. It doesn’t open until nine and while I wait in the rain I’m treated to a pair of drunk German nutters staggering out of a hotel, throwing out a series of salutes while shouting “Sieg heil, sieg heil” then beating the crap out of a lamp-post. Welcome to Germany I quietly muse to myself.
In Hamburg my friend takes me for a kebab where we reminisce about our time in Turkey and I tell her news from Italy and how our friend Lucia is getting on. I tear into a tough part of cheese drenched kebab only to hear Wiebkes cry of “No Andy, that’s the napkin”!
Returning from her house one evening I pass through the infamous Reeperbahn for the first time and find myself at the mercy of one pretty yet forceful prostitute outside the steps of the equally infamous Reeperbahn Police Station.
Explaining that I’m only having a look around she responds with “You would have a better look with empty balls”. Something about the German accent does it for me. I don’t know what but, I laugh a little when I’m asked “You come with me and make some sex”? No doesn’t seem to be in this girl’s vocabulary and my hands only freed after I promise I’m on my way home to get more money.
A Kiwi friend I’ve made here shares his first time experience of Reeperbahn with me and tells of how he was asked by a club owner if he’d like a glass of champagne. After taking a sip the owner explains that it’s going to cost 300 euros since it’s by the bottle. If he doesn’t pay up the police will be called! FUCK THAT!
Still lying in my room that’s shared with seven other people, I wake in the morning to the sound of my own voice shouting “You think that’s funny? You can go and fuck yourself”! I scan the room and find one old German lady sneaking a nervous look in my direction -the same woman who freaked out when she saw my novelty pen in the shape of a syringe. Shit, I’m not a great fan of shared accommodation and this is exactly why. Finding me every other morning with covers around my ankles, arm draped over a pillow and one hand planted over my groin threatening the world in my sleep, would lead me to believe that my room-mates aren’t so fond of sharing with me either.
Three weeks of holiday come to an end all too quickly and I start preparing myself for life in the army after now gaining a beer gut from antics in Germany. I lose the beard. I shave my head. I board a train for Darlington.
Went into the WRONG errotic art show in Hamburg and found myself being handed a torch (old man had forgotten to pay the bills) and told to wander around the rooms looking at his art work including dirty dildos (actual shit smeared on them) torn and stuck to the wall! Not what I expected..
The pain on a scale of 1-10?
An ode to Newbridge around 2002
Controlling the ball with the greatest of ease, Dancing down the wing while taking on an entire team before releasing her deadly strike from point blank range straight into the balls of the on-coming defender. I land unsteadily on my feet unable to take another step and listen to the echo of my flattened testicals reverberate around the room. I’m sure I can feel blood as the waves of pain increase, yet to my credit I remain on the pitch with about as much use to my team as Steven Hawkins in a dance off.
I’ve worked alongside these people every day for the past eight months as well as these weekend games of football, but less than half an hour ago my shocking memory plus general lack of caring for names has been discovered and on being asked to choose the teams I simply point my finger saying “You, you, you and you”.
One by one, as I tip toe around now terrified of the ball, I watch each of my friends get smashed in one way or another. Concussion from a ball in the face, a twisted ankle and a fractured elbow adding to one set of crushed nads. We eventually stagger towards our local bar like zombies from a film.
Rambo – our crazy friend/legend with a shattered elbow- is joined by his brother and wife and we soon take part in a heated game of Stars In Your Eyes –google it. Our game consists of each person exiting the bar after introducing what famous singer they will be, then making a dramatic entrance into a cloud of cigarette smoke (pre-smoking ban), perform a song and wait for the judge’s reaction. Our game’s cut short when Rambo takes a right hook from his spouse rendering him unconscious on the floor. No sympathy for a wounded soldier in this town. Not from these lady’s.
After getting my ass handed to me by the King (Elvis has won again), I retire home and sleep it off then wake the following day to an update of recent developments.
I was not witness to what transpired so I’m only going on what I heard. God I hope it’s true!.
On entering their house, Rambo and wife had continued their little tiff resulting in Rambo taking the time to shoot his wife twice with an air rifle – quite an accomplishment with an injured arm but alcohol can work wonders- before receiving a sharpened tattie (potato) peeler to the gut from his nearest and dearest. Both surviving their latest bust-up, they kiss and make up. As you do after shooting and stabbing one-another!
The best part of three days it took for me to walk properly after my football nut shot, but maybe it’s some blessing in disguise to prevent the spread of Newbridger’s from polluting the planet with mini me’s or maybe just mini Andys. Nature’s way of saying one’s enough.
On knowing more than a few ‘Characters’ from this neck of the woods I can only chuckle at the memories and thank fuck I’m single!
Oh Newbridge, I love you really!
Eyes blink grudgingly open to face the dawn of a new year back in Scotland carrying with them strain brought on by one hangover from Hell. Seated upright and fully clothed I wonder if I’ve slept hours or minutes.
Memories of a party last-night threaten to invade my moment’s peace, but I refuse to contemplate problems I’ve caused or what consequence might lay ahead. I feel rough and for now that’s all I can handle.
Lifting my phone to check this ungodly hour and send best wishes to friends for the New Year I feel thrown with alarm that my mobile has somehow actually transformed over- night leaving me unable to unlock or do anything. Technology not being of particular interest to me and never a point of strength I find this a tad annoying to say the least as it’s only taken me the best part of seven fucking years to learn how to use this thing and now progress has saw fit for a complete change in what I want in a phone.
Franticly I fumble, curse and try my best not to launch it across the room. Why has this happened? I didn’t want my phone updated, I was more than happy with the way it was. It had become part of me and was all I ever needed or wanted in communication software.
Who decided I need some ultra-modern wank piece of shit phone? Some jumped up Google the world, arty farty plastic pish stain thin as paper, fragile as the idea my phone would stay the same as when I bought the fucking thing. Who are you to tell me when I need something different? Who are you to have the nerve to go ahead and make those changes without my consent? Who are you?
Really pissed with the world now I feel the phone crack in the grasp of my hand as frustration sets in. Deep breaths and with my last shred of patience I give one last try before I bite this thing in half only to have it snatched from me by one bleary eyed friend demanding his phone back. “Shit, this was your phone? I think someone’s broken it”!
Eventually my mobile would turn up..In my pocket unchanged, not transformed and ready for business as usual.
One week later..
Why is it I’d rather be bitten on the ass (again) by a lage dog than get nipped by this bad girl?!
My phone has died and I have to buy one ultra-modern, pish pot, arty farty plastic piece of..