Tag Archives: The Army

Joke 832

3 Jul

Airman Jones was assigned to the induction centre, where he advised new recruits about their government benefits, especially their GI insurance. It wasn’t long before Captain Smith noticed that Airman Jones had almost a 100% record for insurance sales, which had never happened before.

Rather than ask about this, the Captain stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones’s sales pitch. Jones explained the basics of the GI Insurance to the new recruits, and then said, “If you have GI Insurance and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don’t have GI insurance, and you go into battle and get killed, the government only has to pay a maximum of $6000.”

“Now,” he concluded, “which bunch do you think they are going to send into battle first?”

Soldier marching illustration

Soldier marching illustration (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

Thanks to Kaleidoscope  for letting me use this one.


4 Jul

As Viv reminded me, today is 4.7.11 or 4711:


Guess the Germans should be celebrating too.

I first came across 4711 one summer as a young teen, when I and my little brother stayed with our big brother and his family in Germany.  Big Bro was stationed in Berlin, with the British army.  I saw the Berlin Wall, Berlin Zoo, the funny tower with the midday cross, the Brandenburg Gate (closed), the Reichstag, the Olympic swimming pool, drove past Checkpoint Charlie, and sat on a bench outside a German church.  I also discovered Sha Na Na on American Forces’ tv, for which I will be eternally grateful, as I was able to impress my friends when Grease came out the following year, and Sha Na Na played the band in the dance-off.  They were quite happy to let me talk all the way through the film about how great Sha Na Na were.  I’m sure.

We were in Germany for three weeks and I wanted to go to church.  There was one near the base, so I thought I’d pop along on Sunday morning.  It was only when I got there that I realised the service would be in German.  You may remember I was a wimp back then: I sat outside for an hour in the sunshine, listening to the singing, because I was too embarrassed to go back and say how daft I had been.

I’ve been to Germany three times, and I love it.  The public transport is efficient and clean, and the country is gorgeous.

The last time was a visit to a place near Iserlohne, where my brother was stationed.  We went Christmas shopping in the prettiest outdoor market and the Hub tried every German delicacy going.  It’s one of the reasons I married him: he never let a language barrier get in the way of a good sausage.

A Stockport Something To Be Proud Of

10 Nov

Note: the photos are not in chronological order.  Click on them to enlarge.

Today, the 1st Batallion Mercian Regiment, based in Stockport, has returned from Afghanistan and has been awarded the freedom of Stockport (see article here).  The Hub and I collected some friends and went along to welcome them home.

The regiment took part in a short service at our famous 750 year old market place (so famous I forgot to mention it in my what’s good about Stockport post) before marching through the streets, past the town hall and into the armoury.  We arrived early and found a prime spot above the Chestergate taxi rank.  Crowds were respectable, and got bigger nearer the town hall.  Many people followed the regiment through the town.

There was a large police presence; I’m not sure whether it was for traffic or protests, but everything went off peacefully.  It was good to see many of the cops wearing poppies; shamefully, some forces banned them last year.

As the regiment passed us going up to St Petersgate, the band leader did an impressive swoop with his massive baton – which was unfortunate for the soldier just behind him, who would have had a very public sex change if his reactions hadn’t been sharpened by months fighting off the Taliban.

One soldier called out ‘Thank you!’ to the crowd as he passed, and the Hub shouted back, ‘It’s us who should be thanking you.’  My hands were red raw and my arms ached from all the clapping.  I haven’t seen a whole battalion since my brother passed out in the Seventies and I hadn’t realised how large it is, but I made sure to clap every man and woman who marched by.


The Hub noticed that many of the soldiers were as short or shorter than him, and wondered if it isn’t small man syndrome that makes them sign up.  A friend of ours is tiny; he was a para in the Falklands War.

Once the whole regiment had passed us we drove around to the Armoury to cheer them again.  They are so young, it’s frightening.  We saw one soldier in a wheelchair, propelling himself with his remaining leg.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a little choked up: even though we know these soldiers and others are out there in Afghanistan, it’s easy to switch off the news and forget them; and many people do.  I felt incredibly proud of each and every one, and if you are reading this and have a loved one in the military, please know that some of us are grateful and humbled by their dedication and bravery.

There were many Gurkhas in the regiment, wearing their distinctive Khukuri knives.  As they walked through Stockport after they had been allowed to fall out, most of them were still wearing them.  It is said that, once drawn, the Khukuri may not be sheathed again until it has drawn blood.  I believe Stockport youths have the same tradition about their knives on Saturday nights out.

We were amazed to see soldiers walking into McDonalds; I can’t say it’s the first place I’d go after months in Afghanistan.  Surely Army food can’t be that bad?


Mum’s Birthday

4 Jul

Mum’s seventy-fifth birthday would have been tomorrow.  We are going to the cemetery today because we are collecting Tory Boy from uni tomorrow.  I don’t want to go late like on her death anniversary.

Flo requested more stories about my Mum.

My Mother, the Deserter: when Mum was a teenager, she joined the army.  She didn’t like it much so she ran away with a friend.  They turned up one Sunday night on my Nan’s doorstep.  Nan gave them a hot meal and a hot bath and put them to bed.  Next day, she took them to the Police Station to turn themelves in for going AWOL.  The officer in charge had a good laugh about it (authority was stricter but had more common sense in those days) and instructed Nan to put them on the first train back to London.  I think they were confined to barracks for a couple of weeks.   I bet that taught ’em a lesson.

That’s the story as I remember her telling it to me; if anyone knows a more accurate version, please let me know.

The Army probably wasn’t the best idea for a woman who admitted to me that, even at twenty and a mother herself, when she wanted something she would shuffle along behind Nan making a meheheheheheheheheheheheheheheh noise until Nan got so irritated she would give in.

Mum used to say, ‘Read Catherine Cookson and you read my life.’  That included three or four children in a bed, no money, cockroaches in the walls , an orange for Christmas in more affluent times.  No wonder she was always so free with her money.  She loved to buy gifts for those she loved, liked, tolerated and even heartily despised.  When she died, I found tins and jars of sweets that she kept in, just in case she had a visitor for whom she hadn’t bought something for Christmas: the postman, the girl who delivered her prescription, the friend of the neighbour she didn’t like who always said ‘hello’ when they met in the hall.  I put them out at her funeral.

I miss her.



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