SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH…
That’s it! I’m packing up, I’m off. 38 years, man and boy, and all the stages in between, a lifetime spent in and around the Air Force and it all finishes in June this year. I joined the RAF on a rainy day in May 1974, when everything seemed to be various shades of grey. The sky was thick with dull lead-coloured clouds, Newark Northgate Station a monotony of grey concrete platforms and drab station buildings. The Corporal who greeted us had a complexion that perfectly matched his blue-grey battledress uniform and the old RAF Bedford Coach we were herded onto was, yes, you’ve guessed it, grey!
On arrival at RAF Swinderby, a short-back-and-sides, ramrod straight Flt Sgt asked, not unkindly, “Does anyone think that they have made a mistake and do not want to be here?” Although 120 of us might have been feeling like turning tail and heading for the hills, only one skinny blond haired youth dared to tentatively raise a hand. “Right then” said the Flt Sgt, “you go with the Cpl over there” and that was the last we saw of him! For the rest of us, life would never be quite the same again…
Much has changed in the Air Force since that grey day. Stations have closed, aircraft types have come and gone, and manning is at 35% of the strength it was back then. Strategically the purpose and commitments of the RAF are altered beyond all recognition – In these post cold war days no one will ever again spend 6 years sitting it out on an airfield in Germany, waiting for the hordes to breach the Iron Curtain!
I’ve seen it all, new
initiatives, cost saving
measures, restructuring, winning wars and making peace, re-inventing the wheel and, of course, the latest hot topic – training: Common Core Skills, Pre-deployment Training, Post-deployment Training, Fitness Training, Fire Training, Security Training, Display Screen Equipment, Information Matters, Information
Management Passport, and Information Overload Training… well maybe I made the last one up but you get the general idea.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Everything flows, nothing stands still” and “Nothing endures but change” while the Scouse philosopher Macca wrote, “In this ever changing world in which we live in…” Change, is now, and ever has been, a key part of Air Force life, with postings, promotions and deployments all part of that change, along with the stuff I lamented over, and woe betide
the man or woman who is stuck in the past, unable to move on.
Where do we find our constants in life, and where do we put down roots when we are engulfed by change on every side? You might like to consider verse 8 in chapter 13 of the book of Hebrews in the Bible. There we find mention of a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Like me, and like many, your world may be shifting and changing in a way that means there is no going back, but there is strength in knowing we don’t have to go it alone.
And just in case you’re wondering, ‘So long and thanks for all the fish’ is borrowed from the fourth book from the Douglas Adams ‘trilogy’, Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – fourth book of a trilogy? You work it out…
Yours Aye, Sandy Gall
STATION CHURCH EASTER EVENTS
Thursday 5 April at 7.30 p.m
Easter Parade an ‘Easter Special of Song, Stories, Poems, Comedy, Surprises, Chocolate!’ and more, with David Harrop.
Sunday 8 April at 10 a.m
Easter Sunday Service