Wednesday, November 27, 2002


Being an Air Cadet was ace. The fools gave us guns. They sent us up in planes at the taxpayers’ expense. And we got off school a lot to visit daft places in the name of building a future career in the Armed Forces. Like, really.

The boss wangled us a visit to a bombing range somewhere up country. In effect, it was just a trip to the seaside at the RAF’s expense with a bit of planespotting thrown in. The RAF even sent down one of their buses and a driver to take us there AND threw in free packed lunches the size of a small suitcase. They loved us.

Hey ho, and off to the seaside we went, singing cute little ditties such as “Balls to all the officers” and various crude rugby songs, the words to which we were far too young to understand. It was a lovely sunny day, and one or two of us were even contemplating going for a little dip in the sea.


Pretty soon we got there. God it was sparse. Through some rusty metal gates we went, guarded over by some poor squaddie who was cursing the moment that he’d ever signed up for this shower of shit. We were dumped by some old Nissen huts at the egde of some sand dunes, looking out over a vast, sandy expanse of beach. The tide was out. A breeze blew over us. Seagull soared over us in the quiet sky. It was beautiful.

Seconds later this quiet was shattered by the screech of a Tornado jet roaring overhead. Down the beach it flew, fifty feet above the ground dropping a bomb right in the middle of the target laid out on the sands.

Boof! Bullseye! Eh wot wot old bean?

We watched in awe as the lads from IX squadron scooted up and down the beach, landing their ten pounders right in the centre of the target everytime. We gave them a round of applause, it seemed only right.

As our triumphant fly-boys headed for home and drinkies in the officer’s mess, the silence was once again broken. This time is was an ear-splitting siren that seemed to foretell the end of the world. Worse.

“Clear the Beach! Clear the beach! Get right back from the beach! Take shelter! Clear the beach!” came a loud voice over the tannoy, rather pressing his point home, we felt. With the RAF dropping stuff on target, we felt perfectly safe where we were, thank you very much.

“Oh shit”, said a voice to my right, which turned out to be our second-in-comand, Flying Officer Abbey, “Here come the Americans.”

A dot had appeared on the horizon. Closer and closer it got, until it was clearly and A-10 Warthog, the backbone of NATO’s defence against Soviet armour, a fact which would keep many a Russian tank driver sleeping soundly in their beds.

Mooresy’s airband radio crackled into life. The Yanks were coming, and the call-sign was “Cowboy”.

“YEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAAAAAAA!” the cowboys roared up, down and across the beach at any which angle, dropping a terifying array of expensive weaponry in all directions. They bombed, they strafed, they fired off American tax dollars all over the place in a terrifying display of American Airborne domination that lasted all of two minutes.

The smoke cleared. The beach looked like the D-Day landings with craters and junk all over the place. In the middle of it all was the carefully prepared target for them to shoot at. It was completely unscathed.

That afternoon, they sent over three more lanes to have a go. We hid behind the Nissen huts while they blasted away at anything except the designated targets, or even the beach itself.

“Lads, God help us if there’s a war” commented Mr Abbey on the way home.

And when there was a war, it came as no surprise to find our erstwhile American NATO allies had managed not only to bomb the wrong country, but also drop hundreds of tons of food-aid right onto the enemy lines who had never eaten so well in months.

Bless ‘em, their heart was in the right place, even if their gunsights weren’t. And let’s face it, if it wasn’t for them, we’d all be shovelling salt somewhere in Siberia by now. Thanks, Cowboy, even if we did hear you say "What does this button do?" We promise we won't tell anybody.

"Rip-Roaring Reds"

AS Roma 1-3 Arsenal -- Now that's what I call quite good. No penguins were injured in the course of this crushing victory.

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