This is the first part of the blog written off English soil! Jodie and I are now safely in our seats on a Boeing 777 on our way to Rio. Those that have had to suffer us over the past few booze filled weeks may pick up there is something wrong with that last phrase - there is no upstairs in a 777 and the man in Trail Finders who told us we were in a 747 and had upstairs seats has a lot to answer for. I always said we should never trust a man with a goatee beard.However, Guy did mention that I had a surprise waiting for me when I got on the plane; this was obviously it!
It has been an interesting couple of weeks with a great mixture of dull preparation and glorious hedonism.Rhino organised a great combined 'dining-out' at the RAFClub on Piccadilly the week before last, which started well but for some ended badly. 30 minutes from closing time it looked like a reasonably sensible night; enter Jodie and the 'bad idea bears' in the form of the simple phrase "shall we all go back to our house for a quick drink?" Next picture grown men saying "another quarter pint of whiskey would be a great idea" at 2 o'clock in the morning whilst others danced on the back of the sofa. w***.
That night set the scene for the remainder of our time before flying. We handed the quarter over on Thursday/Friday, which for me was a rather painless process. For me, it involved sitting in the restaurant at the Oxo tower having a boozy lunch with Euan and Matt, nipping back to move some stuff from the house to our hotel then heading back to the boozer to say farewell to Tim, Dick, Chris and the those fortunate enough not to have had to sit so close to me in the DEC over the past two years. For Jodie, it involved quality time with two Eastern European ladies, armed with mops and Mr Clean, making sure the loo was extra specially clean. I am sure you can all imagine the tension and warm reception I received when I went to pick up the kit that needed moving. The drinks in the evening were eventful enough, and I wish I could remember deciding that a round of Tequila was what was required……….., or going to another bar………., or getting home. This turn of events meant that my last day in the office was less than productive and I hope that Matt will be able to live with any loose ends.Rather symbolically I walked out of the building as Big Ben struck midday and then walked through Horseguards Parade and the Royal Parks on a gloriously sunny autumn day, back to our hotel at Marble Arch, talking to a potential employer. I will miss the people I worked with over the past 16+ years, and I continue to feel very privileged to have served with the British Soldier but the fact that my boss didn't once remark that I was leaving, nor found the time to say goodbye reinforces my feeling that there may be more for me elsewhere.
Friday evening found me in a purple velvet suit and flowery shirt and Jodie in a purple wig and rah rah skirt off with 12 of our friends to see Mama Mia! in the theatre. To steel a phrase from said show,'oh, what a night'.Two for one cocktails at [email protected] is always a good start, and as it was Halloween loads of people were dressed up, which happily meant that my suit, Jodie's purple wig, Tom's mullet and Mungo's Dr Who outfit did not stick out too much.Any person that walks away from Mama Mia! without a smile from ear to ear is officially dead (or knows he has to drive home in a Proton). It is great to see people of all shapes, sizes and ages camping it up, dancing to Super Trooper at the end of the show, with few inhibitions. At least Jodie and I had Nik and Jackie behind us so our Dad dancing was eclipsed somewhat. The bad dancing continued at Thirst, though we nearly got turfed out very quickly after arriving due to Jodie dancing on the sofa (anyone spot a theme?)I do not know if it was the inappropriate use of the sofa or the fit like moves that caught the bouncers attention.
It has not all been booze and I thoroughly enjoyed my handover week as I got to tour the South West saying goodbye to those in D Inf and the IPTs, and conversations and emails with people such as Patricia, Col Peter, Ian Thompson, Richard Coomber, Brigadier Martinand others made me feel that the past two years was reasonably productive. Tuesday was particularly good, visiting troop trials in Copehill Down, smelling cordite and smoke grenades, hearing soldiers banter before driving through the centre of Salisbury Plain, passing Imber Clump and through Battlesbury Bowl (where I spent far too much of my formative years) and passed the first mess that I lived in as a serving officer. The day was capped by bumping into Charlie McEwen, who was my C/Sgt at Sandhurst, so I could not help feeling like I have reached a logical conclusion.
Anyway, time to watch more movies.Have just noted from the Customs form that it is prohibited to import semen into Brazil; I can only imagine there will be a long queue for the loos before landing.