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I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days, that all these memories come flooding back to me.

Small World

While serving in the RN in the early seventies we were in the Indian Ocean when we stopped at the Island of Gan. There was an RAF Station situated there and we were all invited to share the NAFFI1 along with the RAF lads.

There was, of course, a bar - otherwise we would not have bothered going! It was in the process of being renovated at the time, so there was a lot of scaffolding and building debris all over, along with some temporary internal walls. We were amazed by the size of everything compared to our small, crampt lifestyle, even their heads (toilets) were large, with rows of sinks and, well other things.

Having just come off watch my mate and I decided to go over for a visit and spend the day there - we both knew that if we stayed on board ship we would just fall asleep. After spending many weeks at sea the last thing you wanted to do was stay on board and the second last thing was to sleep.

It was a hot, dry day so the long walk to the NAFFI bar helped us to build up our thirst and also helped to keep us awake. We soon found the bar and it was not long before we settled down with a lovely cool pint of larger at a table with all our mates. I suggested that the least we could do was to try and socialise with our hosts, as they had invited us over after all. So we all took our drinks into the patio area of the bar and started to mingle with our hosts. The usual 'Whereabouts in the UK do you come from?' was asked all round, then the stories of previous exploits and jokes were exchanged. It was turning out to be quite a pleasant day and the fact that the beer and spirits were so cheap made it even more pleasant as the day wore on!

In fact it was so good that the lack of sleep from the duty night before had not yet hit us but, as the afternoon drew in, I became drowsy and, indeed, fell asleep. There was nothing said about that - in fact quite a few of us dozed off as the drink mixed with the lack of sleep.

After about an hour I woke up feeling refreshed, but required to visit the head. I was given directions to where they were by one of the RAF lads at our table and set off to find them. Now feeling a bit woozy and tired, I was making my way through the maze of temporary walls into the darkness of the inside when I thought I heard splashing and shouting. Thinking it was just my confused imagination, I pressed on with my search. The splashing and shouting got louder, until I was almost on top of it - but it was so dark I couldn't see. I took a few steps closer and found myself falling into a swimming pool - the existence of which I was blissfully unaware.

It was only then, when I was already in the water, that I saw the person who had been shouting and he was actually drowning a few yards from me. He had also fallen in the pool on his way to the heads and had stumbled in due to the amount of alcohol consumed. I swam over and took a hold of him, telling him to calm down, as he was thrashing around with panic. I held on to him with one arm while I swam to the side of the pool. By this time someone else who was going to the heads had heard all the noise and shouted back for more help to come and assist.
After it was all over and I had dried off and been given a temporary loan of an RAF uniform, we all sat down for a well-earned drink.

Imagine my surprise when the chap I had pulled out of the pool told me that his girlfriend came from my home town! There was even more of a surprise when it turned out that the girlfriend he mentioned was actually a good friend of my sister; they had gone to school together, and remained close friends ever since!

It just goes to show, it certainly is a small world! I was invited to be the best man at his wedding some eighteen months later but, alas, I could not attend, as I was once again out of the country.

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16.10.03 Front Page

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1The NAFFI is an organisation which provides shops and canteens offering cheap food and drink for the British Armed Forces.

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