"Dear Mum" Chapter 20
Her name was Jackie Jones, she came from Myrtha Tidthville in the Rhonda, - Boyo. She could see that I was in a mess and she proceeded to try and get me out of it. She talked me through the events of the previous night and went down to the NAAFI to get a few beers for me. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, but she flirted with me as if she could not see the mess all over my face. Perhaps she couldn’t.
We talked and talked. She seemed to be on duty all night as no one came to relieve her. At last she climbed into bed with me and told me that if I didn’t feel like it I didn’t have to spend the night on my own. As the ward was a bit public, even though there was no one else there, we went down the corridor to her room. I won’t say it was the best night of my life. I was pumped full of antibiotics, I had bruises all over, as well as the stitches which still hurt like hell. But she was wonderful and understanding and just what I needed. She was a healer in every sense of the word. It may have been a conscious plan on her part, or just her natural compassion coming out. It could not have been done better however and I was on the road to recovery from that night. What was even more significant, was that I had lost my virginity. A Whole New World had suddenly opened up.
After about a week in the hospital, I had the stitches out and was released.
21st. January, 1964. RAF St. Mawgan.
Dear Mum, I’ve gone and had another prang, - in my mate’s car this time. Again the only thing I damaged was the left side of my face. It’s funny isn’t it? It is cut this time instead of being grazed and I am afraid I am going to have some scars. The Doc. did a good stitching job and they shouldn’t show much.
I went to Plymouth for an eye test and on the way back, only about 4 miles from camp, I was just round a corner and something jumped out of the right hand hedge. (What a load of COBBLERS!) I instinctively swerved to avoid it and ploughed into the ditch and a telegraph pole. My head did severe damage to the driving mirror, the sunblind and the windscreen.
The shirt I had been wearing was permanently damaged by blood, which had soaked into the collar and would not come out. It was the only respectable one I had. I decided that I would have to expose myself to the public, at least to go and buy a new one. I went into Newquay and with my face averted, bought the first shirt that caught my eye, avoiding the curious glances of the shop assistant. As I left the shop two young girls were going in. I heard one say to the other. “ Oooh, I like his scars!” She LIKED them! If she liked them maybe I was looking at this from the wrong perspective. Maybe there were opportunities here that I had not even imagined. After a few days I realised that what I had was the best gimmick that I had ever had the fortune to have at my disposal. I couldn’t go wrong. All the girls I met wanted to know what I had done. Armed with the realisation that I now knew what sex was all about, as well, my self-confidence leapt. I was tall, I had always been tall, but now I was tall, interesting and knowledgeable. It changed my life. Everyone wanted to know how I had done it. I made up a lot of tales, but the story with the most convincing ring of truth was the one about how the rifle bullet from the Malayan Jungle that had splintered the woodwork of the train, causing my dramatic wounds. They became less dramatic as the years passed and if I thought about it, I used to ink them in a bit if I was going out. Later I had the misfortune to get a steel splinter in my eye and for a few days had to wear an eye patch. Exactly the same thing happened when I went to a cocktail party wearing it.
I had to go back to Sick Quarters, as the doctor, in his hurry to put the stitches in, had sewn several pieces of windscreen into my face. The biggest soon poked through like a little square transparent tooth, for a few days. They told me not to worry about this and sure enough, they all came out with a bit of picking and no problems. Jackie Jones was there, so I asked her out and we went out together for the rest of my time in the RAF. I was in her little room again one night, practising what she had taught me earlier, when there was a knock on her ground floor window. “You can tell Corporal Bell that he has 5 minutes to get out of there! “ Parking my motorbike outside was a stupid thing to do really and to avoid attracting further attention I freewheeled it down the hill from Sick Quarters for a couple of hundred yards before I started it and went back to my block. Those ruddy police knew everything.
When Jackie was off duty we would go off for dirty weekends. To anonymous Hotels where we were not known, not that anyone would have cared very much. We went to London one weekend, and stayed in the Victoria Hotel on Westward Ho in Plymouth, room 81, another. We went separately, her on the train and me on my motorbike, then I would pick her up on the station and drop her off there again on the Sunday evening. So she could arrive back at camp on her own. I decided that there was an awful lot to this sex business and I couldn’t see why I had taken so long in getting started. A lot of events in my youth, that had puzzled me, all suddenly fell into place. In the meantime, if she were ever on duty on her own I would meet her in Sick Quarters. After the narrow escape previously, I was a lot more circumspect. Every opportunity we had, we were at it. It was too hot not to cool down, however and by the time my Demob. arrived, we had drifted apart. I went abroad and I received a letter forwarded by my mother when I was in Iran, containing a photo showing her holding a baby and saying that she was married. It seemed a bit quick to me, but it was not up to me to judge. I wished her well. I will never forget you Jackie Jones.
During my last few weeks, I was applying for jobs abroad. I went for several interviews and finally ended up working for The Decca Navigator Company. They said they had openings in the Middle East and during the interview the Manager of the Overseas Projects Division, spent an hour telling me about his Air Force experiences and then asked me when I could start.
While I was still on my Demob. leave I was on a course in Brixham, not far from Newquay, but on the south coast, in Devon. As I was still in the RAF. officially, I came back to St Mawgan and stayed there at weekends, rather than going all the way to Suffolk or paying extra for weekend “digs”. A lot of people didn’t know I had even left. I was being paid both by Decca and the RAF. at this time too, so I was the envy of all my old colleagues.
Before I left, I had an interview with the Careers Officer. He listened to what I was going to do and what I had planned. At the end he shook my hand and told me that I did not need anything else from him, or the Air Force. It was quite true. But what he did not know was the extent of the changes that had occurred over the 5 years and how the little boy of 18. - spindly, shy and insecure, who blushed at anything, from the tiny village in Suffolk, without any real ambitions or plans, had left - at 23, a confident young man, with the world at his feet. I could go anywhere and do anything. I shall be eternally grateful. It was the best start to adult life that anyone could have had. I did go to a lot of places and did do a lot of things, but that’s another story.