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By: Andrew Darroch

If You Can't Take a Joke

Pages: 174 Ratings:
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The gates of RAF Swinderby were the entrance to an alien world in the eyes of a young man with no previous military experience, and arrival there came as a shock to the senses; a shock which the instructors did their level best to maximise, by giving every instruction and making every observation in an ear-splitting shriek that could melt earwax. From dawn until dusk there was no respite as a host of alien concepts were hammered into us from a variety of different sources, nor from dusk until midnight when we would be cleaning every nook and cranny of our barrack block until everything gleamed, although it never seemed to be shiny enough for the corporal or the sergeant.

Gradually though, the unfamiliar became familiar as those alien concepts sank in and stopped being alien, as we learned and toughened up, becoming the best we thought we could be, and then exceeded that and started to become as good as the instructors thought we could be; until we really learned how to take a joke.

Andrew Darroch was born in 1959 Luton to Glaswegian parents, unaware that the street he was growing up in was considered underprivileged even in a still battered and war damaged town. The sense of family and friendship infusing the community more than compensated for any lack of material wealth, and along with the relaxed attitude to parental control which characterised the sixties and seventies made for a rich, varied and adventurous childhood, with kids roaming far and wide across the town and occasionally getting into mischief. Despite everything, he eventually grew up and joined the RAF at the age of 20.

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