Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Plane Tails from the hills !

There aren’t many “characters” left in the world are there. Certainly when I was serving her majesty in the outermost fringes of the empire ! There were still palpable characters about. In jolly British on yer arse (Belize to the educated) we had a system in which there was a “Garrison” – staffed by various Corps personnel and a “Company” which was an augmented Infantry Company. The Company changed every six months but the Garrison had individual 2- 3 year postings. As previously described it is a strange place lots of hot wet jungle, very few roads, rivers full of piranha, alligators and other weird beasties. Snakes and insects abound ! The Garrison supplied the Doctor – a fully paid up member of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and a Captain to boot ! He was a real character. One of his ambitions was to be able to balance a pint pot on his tum whilst standing up so he was more than a little chubby. Another of his claims to fame was during the wet season he would lay on his bunk and imbibe vast quantities of alcohol – Not unusual in itself, as most of us tended to do this (moaning “the rain, the rain)
But as an officer and a gentleman, his personal weapon was a pistol – mostly kept loaded for snakes etc. He would lay there shooting mosquitoes off the ceiling, creating a shower head effect through the tin roof. He would wake up, his bunk awash and wonder how it all got there !
Best of all was his pet boa constrictor – This 9 ft long, bad tempered git of a snake lived in a large hutch outside the door to his bunk ! – You’ve guessed it, Doc would lock his door, throw the keys in with the snake and retire to the Mess, to endeavour by serious drinking to meet the pint pot ambition. Suitably refreshed – or even over refreshed he would stagger back to his bunk – crawl in to the cage and try and retrieve his keys. Most evenings he would manage to get the keys out without too much of a problem – But the best laid plans – It had to be me, first time as Guard Commander – one of the roving sentries reports in “shots fired” from the direction of the Officer’s bunks – Take several squaddies at the double and there it is a bloody great snake trying to strangle the shit out of the Doctor who is wrestling round with this thing, gun in hand shooting wildly in all directions (other than the snake) I seemed to recall that a constrictor needed to anchor its tail before it could squeeze the life out of you but this one had several coils round the Doc and he was turning a funny shade of puce ! In we go, every one grab a bit – It would have made a great film scene – I’ve never seen anything so strong as that flaming snake – we get the doc out from its coils and he then starts shouting “don’t hurt the snake “ I do not believe it (one foot in the grave !) we roll away and the snake is away on its coils into the yungle – Damned doctor was so upset he wouldn’t dress our wounds – who says constrictors don’t bite ! When we dis-mounted the guard the Orderly Officer takes me aside and says “I didn’t want to say much but you and your chaps look awfully scruffy this morning” – Needless to say he was “otherwise employed” , over at the Airport when all the fun was going on and the Doc was well liked by all so we didn’t like to tell him ! – The cage was left open and sure enough, the stupid creature came back in a couple of days when it was hungry and happily slithered ? back inside. More from the empire to come
Evening all

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