Thursday, 21 April 2011
I've just picked up some books from the library. One is a book I've had on reserve for some weeks, but more on that later.
The actual book I picked up, almost by mistake is "Previous Convictions"by A.A. Gill.
I've read some of his writing before, and found it varies between slightly amusing to hilarious.
This book almost made me wet my pants.
As I read Glastonbury (the first story) I simultaneously said "Fuck Me". farted AND wet my pants.
It's one of the best pieces of humorous writing I've ever seen. I encourage you to find it and read it. In private. Your guffaws of mirth and expressions of "Bloody Hell","Jesus Christ on a Crutch", "F*ck Me" will often offend non-reading bystanders.
One of his pieces is called "Shooting"and whilst being an excellent piece on the subtleties of shooting grouse, I, I believe can do better.
Racing towards the grid reference on the map. Uncertainty about the real position. Developing a plan and battery movement plan as I go.
Finding the right crossroads, directing the driver, indicating the Halt.
Jumping out of the Land Rover, giving orders to the Battery guides.
Pointing the Surveyor to the Aiming Point.
Quick marking of the map with grease pencil, thrusting it towards the Command Post team just arriving.
Waving the GUNS towards their allocated positions, guides running in front.
Firing platforms crashing down, Tractors Straining the GUNS up and locked.
Drop the towing eyes, ramming in the Traversing Handle, Number One running the GUN around to the approximate bearing.
"AIMING POINT DIRECTOR", screamed by the Surveyor.
Acknowledgements, shouted bearings, repeated bearings, Dial Sights aligned and locked, ammunition prepared HE117 on the front, VT on the left, Fuze Caps loosened, Cartridges removed from tins, Cartridge Leatherboard caps removed and replaced, charge bags checked.
Shift the Ammo and the kit to the side, cover with a tarpaulin.
"NUMBER ONE GUN READY" screams the number One, the GUN sergeant.
"SECTION READY", I scream at the Command Tent.
Quick sprint to cover and to start a brew. (Every unit of every Corps or Division of the British Army has an inalienable law. If you have a spare five minutes without anyone shouting at you or shooting at you, then make a cup of tea. Anything (except a belly wound) is better after a cup of hot, sweet tea, especially accompanied by a cigarette, or a cigar.)
"FIRE MISSION NUMBER ONE GUN ADJUST"
Sprint to GUN, scramble for ammo, Number Three in the seat, moving, directing laying the GUN
Instructions and bearings shouted and repeated as acknowledgement.
The excruciating BOOM, the pressure on the eardrums, the scramble for the half-forgotten earplugs.
Adjust bearings and range
Another BOOM, the drifting smoke smelling of cordite, ammonia, gunpowder, nitrocellulose, invigorating, exhilarating.
Forget the 18 pounds of RDX/TNT of the bursting charge ripping out a sphere of destruction and flensing metal shards 20 kilometres down-range. Not our problem. Service the GUNS.
Adjust bearings and range.
The BOOM is almost a CRACK, ripping through any hangovers or memories.
"FIRE MISSION BATTERY"
Running figures appear from everywhere, all the GUNS are manned.
"HE117, CHARGE THREE, AT MY COMMAND, ENEMY IN TRUCKS ON ROAD, BEARING 1145 MILS, ANGLE OF SIGHT 25MILS ELEVATION, RANGE 17750, REPORT WHEN READY"
Thud of the round rammed into the breach, the grunt of acceptance from the Number One as he checks the charges, the chunk-clang of the breech being slammed shut by Number Two.
Last minute minute adjustments by the Layer.
"BATTERY, FIVE ROUNDS FIRE FOR EFFECT"
BLAAAAM as a cacophony of cracking, ripping supersonic and subsonic sound tears through our heads.
Service the guns. Ram the rounds, push the cartridges home into the breech, sliding over the hot metal(thumb ALWAYS under the index finger).
Re-adjust from the layer.
"NUMBER ONE GUN ROUNDS COMPLETE"
Sit quietly, arrange the ammo, breathe the tangy propellant laden air.
This was being a Gunner.
Somewhere, 17750 metres (±150 metres) away, at a bearing of 1145 mils, over a tonne of RDX/TNT surrounded by 500 kg of razor edged shrapnel has ripped through a target.
Wonder if we've got time for another brew?
"END FIRE MISSION"
Yes, we would have time for another brew-up.