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warmth in, with the added advantage that it was not bulky. I heard that some folk, unable to find a big enough piece of brown paper would resort to using newspaper. This not only tended to tear easily, it also left ink marks all over underclothing - to the annoyance of our batwomen who had to try and wash it out.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesWith snow around and unacceptable flying conditions, the next few days were spent on lectures, extraneous duties, parade rehearsals and, because we had been told that we would shortly be losing our Vampires, studying F86 'Sabre' Pilots Notes. Indoor hockey was also played, not only during this immediate period, but regularly throughout the winter season. Sometimes I was picked for the team, sometimes I wasn't, but I enjoyed a game when I could get one. Another event also took place. That was the 'Dining Out' in the Mess of Wg. Cdr. Coulson, our Wing Commander Flying, who was leaving us. It was to be a formal Guest Night rather than a routine Dinner Night (for living-in Officers only) or a monthly Dining In Night. Wing Commander 'Hammer' West had only recently been posted in to take over as our new Wing Commander Flying.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesSuch events demanded formal dress, mandatory attendance, and the pleasant task of welcoming invited guests from other Units, both RAF and Army, and occasionally civilian, for pre-dinner cocktails.6 The Loyal Toast was drunk and formal after-dinner speeches were made. Then matters would become less formal. Under-table pranks would occur, like tying someone's shoe laces together, or even, after having done that, setting fire to a serviette that was also attached to the victim's laces. Wiser people always sat back a distance from the table at this stage of proceedings. On wilder nights, but not usually when ladies were present, the occasional thunderflash would be thrown. After dinner, and on 'retiring' to the anteroom and bar, more high jinks would usually take place. Maybe a victim's bare feet would be covered in soot and he be hoisted bodily to the ceiling for him to leave his footprints for all to see for almost ever after, or a least until the room was redecorated. Bare arse prints were not unknown, but were usually cleaned off before many days elapsed. At Jever it was common for 'parachute' jumps (with no parachute) to be made from the minstrel gallery on to a pile of settees and armchairs arranged below. It was not unknown for limbs to be broken when things got out of hand. The game 'High Cockalorum' was banned for this very reason, but almost as injurious, 'Are you there Moriati?' was played viciously at times.7 Intersquadron Mess rugby was a favourite. Using a cushion as a ball, and with furniture judiciously placed as obstacles, each side would attempt to get the 'ball' to the opposing end of the anteroom. It was free for all as just about anyone could join in, and did, from the Admin and Tech Wings - and they changed sides, too! The losers bought the drinks for the winners. It was an Air Force tradition, indeed etiquette, that no one should leave the Mess until the CO departed. Sometimes Fo-Fo would be enjoying himself enormously and that could mean a very late night indeed.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesWhile on this subject, I well remember one evening when, for some drink-inspired reason, everyone was expected to take their trousers off, or be debagged if they didn't. It was a riot. 'Wilbur' Wright (Station Signals) and Jim Yates (Personnel) were enjoying a game of darts at the time and, not wishing to be disturbed or be conspicuous in their trousers, quietly took them off, placed them safely to one side, and carried on playing. The same Jim Yates also had a party trick up his sleeve. I only ever saw it performed once. After some coercion he was dared to perform it by RAF
6 Formal dress meant Mess Undress (also called Mess Kit with its tight trousers, cummerbund, and bum-starver jacket) or, if one didn't have that, Interim Mess Dress.
7 'High Cockalorum' was a human pyramid game. It was banned throughout the RAF after several injuries. 'Are you there Moriati?' was a game with two blindfolded combatants, each lying on the floor and armed with long, hard, rolls of newspaper (or similar), the object of which was, using sound location, to wallop one's opponent over the head, hard. The one scoring the first three hits was declared the winner. Headaches were not unusual afterwards.
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