Everyone has seen that panicky look on someon's face. My mate -let's call him Carrot- kept losing his gat in NI. It got to be a bit of a habit. He and I were over there in the early '90s, working in plain clothes; that's not as exciting as it sounds, we were just couriers really. Being in civvies gave you lots of opportunities to swan round HQ unshaven, long haired, jeans and rugby shirt etc., just as if you really were Sssshh... Have to Kill you, which no one gave a tiny toss about of course. These opportunities were taken with both hands. The icing on the cake to a teenage squaddy in these circumstances was the Browning in the belt. How cool is that out of eleven? A real gun! Just like in the films! (except you have to load it, and clean it). Carrot was a very good tradesman but one of the worst soldiers in NATO. In the Sigs, there was a lot of competition for this title. His personal admin was like that of an especially forgetful Alzheimers victim, he took to authority like a duck to paraffin, he drank too much and told RSMs that their wives looked like mooses. There was a lot of competition for these last two points too. Everyone loved him to bits. his first locational challenge re. pistols came one dismal February morning at a busy heliport in the tourist mecca of Ulster. He and I had just got off a Lynx from some det. or other, he to zip back to HQ by Sierra, me to go on by Gazelle elsewhere. He got his route cleared, put his work bag on the back seat and his personal kit in the boot, and went down to the main gate to sign out with the vehicle, posing like crazy to the chunky on stag, with the butt of the gat ostentatiously poking out of his waistband. Signing out completed, he saunters, Clint Eastwood style, back to the car. Damn. Where's the keys? Rummage rummage, wallet out and on the roof, pistol likewise, (can you see this coming?) ah, found 'em. Whew. Brum brum, off he goes, waving to the chunky who he sees in the mirror practically jumping up and down with the fondness of his farewell. 'Must have really impressed that guy' thinks Carrot, wondering if he should do a radio check. Nah. Why bother? Be there in an hour. AN hour later... ID to the chunky on the home gate, step out of car, walk over to sand pit. Hmm, something nagging at his mind. Wonder why the SSM is watching? Looking a bit cheerful, too. Hello, he's beckoning. Best complete the drills first, don't want to get caught out like that. Oh. That's what was nagging at his mind. Damn. Can't let the SSM in on this yet, it must be in the car... Idea! turn back slightly and mimic the actions of a man calmly clearing a pistol. Great plan! That's sorted, bought a few minutes to search under the seat. Best go and see what the SSM wants. Hello sir. A present sir? Deliverd by helicopter 5 minutes ago? Whatever could that be sir? Giftwrapped? Gosh it's heavy... oh. A Browning. Yes it is just like mine sir. Errrmmmm.... In a ditch you say sir? with my wallet? OK sir. 8 am your office tomorrow. Sigh.