Home Articles The Scots Lad Episode #9: The Scots Lad: Getting in a Paddy - Page 3
Episode #9: The Scots Lad: Getting in a Paddy - Page 3
Written by Gerry Hodes   
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 01:47
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Episode #9: The Scots Lad: Getting in a Paddy
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Nowadays, of course, unsweaty, spiritual relationships abound between the two sexes, although, personally, I have never found much use for them (the relationships, not the female gender), but I suppose it was good training for a probable sex-starved future and better than assuming, as I aver, even these days, that any female who displays a reluctance to engage with me romantically, is a major muff-diver. S’amazing how many of these I’ve met over my lifetime.

Early in 1966, the Crown Agents reached the barrel bottom in recruitment standards and an Fred Karno army of individuals, strangers to the Official Secrets Act of 1911, started to join we bona fide UK civil servants, on 3-year contracts. By and large, without any knowledge of Civil Service procedures, they weren't much use until trained and Paddy and his cohorts, their eyes firmly fixed on completing whatever regretted commitment they had made to Zambia and fleeing to another ex or current British colony, weren't huge fans of personnel development programmes.

As I type, I'm aware that I'm sounding pompous, but taxi drivers from Cardiff, or Nantwich fantasists with a single O level in accounts (yes, I'm talking about you, Happy Howarth), weren’t bringing to the job any particular experience.

True, there is little skill required, beyond developed perversion, to be able to stick your mitts into a suitcase of soiled laundry, but the instinct to detect fraud or cunning defalcation in an import document isn’t speedily developed. There was a benefit from this influx, though. Suddenly, one or two of us more experienced types, who actually could read a tariff book, became a tad more valuable to the system.

That gave me a bit of relief from the Wrath of Paddy, much to the disappointment of the ever-miserable Nkunika and his toady mates', like Jones, the suck-up expat git. All I had to do was keep my noddle beneath the parapet for a few months and all would be well, I felt. Of course, I understood the theory very well, but, not for the first, or last, time, proved incapable of practising it.

That said, I know that the experienced reader expects me to start this paragraph with the word ‘unfortunately’, but nil points for anticipation. I did become (quite) a good boy, well, less of an unreconstructed hooligan perhaps. Some of this improvement was down to a smiling Welshman, Alvar Griffiths, possessor of the most polished footwear in Christendom. I never saw him actually processing a piece of formal government paperwork, but he ran the Customs football team like a premiership manager: ruthlessly and with relentless, hurtful opprobrium that he labelled ‘encouragement’.

Football consumed him completely and he inferred that I possessed a bit of footballing talent,  which had passed unnoticed hitherto and he determined to nurture it. In truth, had there been a squad of lumbering carthorses somewhere, I might have made the reserves, but, within a team that would have had trouble defeating eleven limbless ex-servicemen, sans their prosthetics, I managed to move up to become a minimally acceptable forward.

This led to us playing against schools and colleges, where the players invariably were native boys, bootless and, often, shirtless. Generally, we were thrashed. Most of our opponents had corns with more talent than we possessed in both our feet, but it introduced we pampered white boys to the underclass that was going to have to be the future of Zambia. This particular PWB, felt maturity being laid on with a trowel, as our soccer matches led to deeper social involvement on other levels.

For example, I agreed to address a class of pre-pubescents on the mysteries of electricity and, dredging up a lesson from my own schooldays, I sketched out a simple electrical circuit, using a doorbell as the example; an electric circuit as a closed loop with a continuous flow of electric current from the power supply to the load; and an interrupted connection being made via a switch, to cause the bell to ring etc. etc.