I've just had a letter from an old and rather befuddled friend of mine who was on OFT3. Anyone care to enlighten me as to what he was talking about.

Dear Mushie,

Just a few words to let you know about a jolly strange trip to Germany I’ve just made. I was having a sherbert in the B Mess (you know the one that was redecorated with all that pink formica that some Naafi bar rejected) and met a super set of chaps. Half of them were there to try some chap called Bowman, and the other half said they were from HQ Inf, though frankly I doubt it as they were associated with K9 or R2D2 or WD40 or something like that and I’ve never heard of any of those regiments, suppose they might be new Cav Regiments but then why claim to be Inf. Anyhow the whole crew were splendid fellows, but they spoke in a very strange language. Now I pride myself on keeping abreast of TLAs and other such Staff College nonsense (I know the difference between Line of Departure and the Start Line, and indeed Axis of Advance and Center Line) but the banter these coves were coming out with was incomprehensible. Stable platforms, interfaces, bandwidth and a whole host of letters and figures all jumbled up and designed to confuse poor old chaps like myself. And this Bowman fellow, somehow he was involved, though why he should be when he was on trial stumped me.

Anyhow went out to the exercise which was held at Tin City of blessed memory. Standard format based on Arrcade Fusion 2000 (or Rhino Charge 2002 or was it Joint Venture 04, you’d recognize it at once) bad chaps streaming across the border etc, 1Br Corps or whatever it’s called nowadays, finding them fixing them (called shaping nowadays old fruit) and then allowing the French to take them in the rear (though I should have thought the Greeks would be better at that sort of thing). I was something called Sidecon, which buggered me up totally until I realized that they meant flanks. Had to sit there with a new sort of headset on, (which I suspect has been cunningly designed to be as uncomfortable as possible in order to keep old duffers like me awake) and stare at a computer screen. Still there is now a lot more space in the panzer and I didn’t once kneel on a drawing pin, oh and joy of joys there is now a wacking great big heater in the vehicle which also doubles as a pie warmer. Good to see that nothing has changed Ptarmigan wise, the dear old system maintained it’s tradition of giving everyone a break by going down and it’s good to see that the new system is upholding it. Someone did suggest that the constant comms breaks were designed into the system in order to give the siggies a break from wearing those headsets, but I can’t really see the geeks being that clever. Incidentally when we did have comms down we no longer looked at the signalers with a malevolent eye, but shouted for some chap called Kevin. I thought at first that Kevin was the appointment title for the computer experts (remember Sunray and Molar and Boxwood) as everytime I got my siggie to shout for Kevin a different chap turned up, but apparently five out of eight geeks were all called Kevin. Nice chaps but frankly they should be warned not to talk about how nice their hotel rooms are to people sharing twelve to a ten man room.

The exercise must have been a success, certainly we fixed the bad chaps where we wanted to and reduced them enough for the French to attack rather than surrender and lots of very senior chaps were strolling around looking pleased. Met up with the original crew in the bar (that furniture, honestly) and the chaps from R2WD40 were still talking about bandwidth and applications (I suspect they had spent too much time with Kevin(5).This Bowman fellow had been tried and though I never did find out what he had done, the chaps from his trial said that they had decided that he was too young to be found guilty and so got off without even an ASBO.

Look forward to seeing you at Bunty’s for the Christmas beano,

Yours in vino

It translates as:

Dear Mushie,

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I still can't pay you back the fiver that I owe you. I had intended to have a dry exercise, allowing me to build up the necessary funds from the cash that would otherwise have been spent on alcohol.

Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed by the latest development in technology and really needed a stress-reliever. This release came in time-honoured liquid form.

I'm writing this letter by way of apology, though being a gentleman, consider it bad form to discuss money. I'm sure you'll get the gist.

I promise that you'll get your fiver after the next exercise. As a down-payment, I'll get the first round in at the Xmas bash.

See you there,


(Yours Aye and all that)
Not since July '81. He always paid me back at the start of every drill night - and promptly borrowed another fiver at the end of it.

Thankfully, the last time I saw him was at Camp, just after Pay Parade, otherwise I'd be chasing him for £5 plus 26 years compound interest.

Gosh, that would be £4586.66 at loan shark rates! I should have invested in him!

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