Sunday, January 10, 2016

Not a stunt rider

No this  is not a stunt rider.  This manoeuvre was part of the normal motorcycle training for National Service Military Policemen in the 1950s.

The first week of training was spent in a field at Aldershot learning to control the bike before we were allowed out on the road.  First day just going round and round the field trying not to fall off for those who had never ridden a bike before. But of course the first thing was to learn how to kickstart the damn thing without the kickback breaking your leg.
 During the week we progressed in our control  of the bike by standing on the seat and the rear pannier, sitting side-saddle and sitting on the petrol tank with our legs over the handlebars. This was before we were even allowed to move out of first gear! Needless to say, the bikes had to be cleaned at the end of every day before the evening meal.

By the end  of the week we were regarded as being competent enough to be allowed out on the road.
This was not always the case, because in reality we had not learned any roadcraft nor properly when it was appropriate to change gear. Of course it all came together with practice, riding every day for quite long periods in different traffic conditions.

One of the highlights of about the third week was a day spent doing cross country riding  at a scrambling track.  This was quite competitive and it was the first time that we were encouraged to go as fast as we could. 

Once having completed the motorcycle section of our course we then went on to the much less exciting business of learning to drive a 15cwt truck.  How boring by comparison. 


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Stop the world I want to get off.

Lots of older people are just grumpy old men or grumpy old women.  Some though are just bemused by the changes which have taken place in just a short space of fifty years.  Are we still living in the same world as we were then, it is so different that some of us suspect we have been hijacked by aliens.
 Is science fiction fact?  Are the teenagers of today people in the same way as we were when we were young or are they from a different planet? Or even a different solar system?  They don't have pointed ears but there is multi coloured spiky hair, strange patterns on their skins, all kinds of of hardware dangling from their ears or noses,short haired girls and long haired boys with skinny legs with toes that point towards each other instead of straight forward.

There is rampant puberty from the age of ten but young people are "kids" until they are 21 or more.  
But then suddenly parliament is full of 30 something's running the country, most of whom have never had a proper job. 

Technological change is normal over such a time span and because this has happened gradually most people accept the changes and adapt.  But there are still changes forced onto the population which many older people do not want.  Who decided that "music" was compulsory in shopping centres, even in the toilets?  And why does 90 per cent of the photos on FB contain a tongue? Who changed fast bowlers on the cricket pitch to quick? Why is text speak everywhere and not just in texts? Who is able to keep up with all those abbeviations? 

There are all these improvements but still no cure for the common cold.  No cures for cancers either that work for ever sufferer.  More money spent on subsidies for grouse shooting than on flood defences. A National Health Service which is National only in name.  Charities which spend more  of the money collected in paying CEOs and administration than on the job they were created for..

Anthony Newley surely could not have realised how much his song would resonate in the future.

Friday, January 1, 2016

What National Service taught us.

There used to be a phrase about National Service and what it taught young men. "I learned to drive and I learned to scive>"

Neither of these subjects were covered by the Army Education Corps.

I did my National service in the army and the AEC sergeants  came along to give talks on various subjects, most of which I can't remember. A lot of these sergeants were not much older than us, much like some secondary school teachers today.

On one occasion there was a session where we each had to give a talk lasting three minutes on any subject we liked except sex, religion or politics.

Well there was the usual set pieces from some of the lads, my job, my home town, my football club and so on. There were one or two quite well educated chaps who were able talk quite easily about films, art,  music and so on, but most were a bit mumbly and bashful.

 Well I was quite prepared for this so when it was my turn I walked up to the front and said  " We have been told that we can't talk about sex, politics or religion, I don't know about anything else, and I don't even know much about sex come to that "  and went and sat down.

The education sergeant who was normally quite easy going, went ballistic.

"Back up here. Three minutes so start talking and keep talking till I tell you to stop."

I will admit that I had thought about  this and said that my topic was "Forbidden subjects. "  The Sergeant said "Your three minutes hasnt started yet but watch your step.

I kept going, and don't remember the whole spiel but I managed to include the words, religion, sex and politics about a couple of dozen times each. But only in the context of when and where it was not allowed to be talked about, like you couldn't talk about sex in church and there wouldn't be much point in talking about religion whilst having sex and so on.

I managed my three minutes without trouble as once I was in my stride of mixing and matching I started getting shouted suggestions from the other lads.  It was hilarious and not what the sergeant had in mind.

 I am not sure if they had any more of those talk sessions after that.