Robin Horsfall presents the second in a short series of humorous soldier’s memories.
December 1979 found B squadron 22 SAS in Portadown, Northern Ireland. The winter weather was typically Irish, cold with endless rain. After Christmas had passed operations seemed to wither away as the IRA and UDA remained at home to play with their new train sets. In consequence the squadron’s reaction was to do the same. As a new boy and never much of a drinker I watched as the world’s most professional soldiers drank until they dropped.When New Year’s Eve arrived even the most hardened consumers of alcohol were slowing down except Minky.
Minky was a Royal Engineer with the constitution of an Ox. What he drank could have and would have killed most men. He could remain standing hour after hour drink after drink until lesser mortals succumbed to sleep.
Soldiers who have over imbibed will recall that no matter how drunk we were and how far from home - our sozzled brains would automatically make a plan for the legs to walk us home to our beds. Those who failed would end up in flower-beds or doorways in a pool of regurgitated food. Minky was an expert, his legs always got him to his bed. The prospect of failure on a cold Northern Irish night could have been lethal.
It was New year’s day 1980 at about 0300. A few of us watched as Minky staggered from the bar. We could see his autopilot switch on.
Open the bar door –turn right – bounce along the wall as far as the corner of the building and turn right again. Fifty long strides across the tarmac to the end of the third portacabin, grab the bannister by the foot of the steps and throw up. Pause,
then climb the five steps – push handle down and enter. Slide left shoulder along wall as far as the third door on the left. Open door - walk towards left corner of room and collapse on bed.
The autopilot worked perfectly until the very last moment when Minky fell and curled up on the floor to sleep. The boys had stolen his bed!
Everything in this story does bear a resemblance to persons who lived their lives to the full!