In between getting limbs ripped from there sockets during self defence and fitness training we spent most of the day in the classroom learning law. Our two class Sergeants had been teaching at Dishforth for a while but were due to be returned to their respective forces soon. Initially they were very strict but as the course went on they mellowed out and began to tell us a few stories of teaching in the past. It was a different time. A time before people took offence to everything. A time before mobile phones, Facecrook or Twatter so no one cared if you were offended. One of the stories involved a police woman in the class and goes as follows:-
The instructor was teaching the recruits and kept glancing at one particular policewoman. When he did he would tut and shake his head slowly. This went on for some time before he eventually said to her “I’m sorry but your face is really putting me off teaching the class”. He asked her to go into the instructors room just outside the classroom and bring back whatever was in the top draw. She returned a short while later with a brown bag and scissors. The instructor cut out some eye slits and a mouth and asked her to put it over her head to save him being distracted. She wore it throughout the whole lesson until the break. When the instructor walked back in the classroom after the break she put it back on instantly. It was only then she was told it was a wind up.
One of the reasons she was picked on was because she was very pretty. It was also a time when there were very few police women and they had only recently been allowed to do the same duties as policemen. Before that there was a women’s police department. They got less money and dealt with children and missing persons. Things have moved on thankfully and policewomen are treated equally, with more respect and bring so much more to the job.
As we went through the course as a class we formed a strong bond and became very close. Every night we went out to the Packhorse bar which was on the camp. It was good to see that every other class was also bonding and had formed their own cliques in the bar. Self control was something that did not mix with beer. It was left behind as we indulged in the liquid refreshment on most nights (unless there was fitness training early in the morning). From time to time few of us would sneak out and find one of the other empty dormitories as the recruits were all in the bar. We would rearrange the room swapping identical wardrobes and bedside cabinets so no one had keys that fit and they had to try them all. We would also take the wire lattice from someone’s bed frame and then remake the bed perfectly. As soon as anyone sat or lay on it the lot just collapsed.
As we spent more time getting to know each other some of the “games” got worse. There was the “dance of the flaming arseholes” where about six people would each grip a rolled up sheet of newspaper between their bum cheeks. The music would be played and all the newspapers lit at the same time. The last one dancing would win. It also pays not to be hairy but if you were, you wouldn’t be for long. Now, that was a sight.
There was a game called “freckles” which involved a rather large, sloppy, turd, a table with people round it, their noses on the edge and a plate. Without going into too much detail I am sure you will work out what happens when you slam a plate down.. the one with the most freckles looses and has to get the beers in the next day.
We were not the only ones doing various pranks. We went out to the morning parade on a couple of occasions to find rather heavy sleepers still in their beds snoozing in the middle of the parade ground whilst the marching and inspection went on around them.
There were many, many other things that went on but luckily everyone in the class looked upon them as bonding. We were a group that looked after each other no matter what. After that days class we would do additional studying and running but we all did it together. We had exams every Monday morning and had to pass the final biggie test at the end of the course. It was tiring, it was hard work, you had to have self discipline but above everything we had fun..
Each week we would study various bits of law in the classroom. It might be the Theft Act or the size of wheels you need on a pedal cycle before it needs two brakes (twenty three inches sticks in my head for some reason and I can still talk non stop for a week on the theft act). I know that the Police are allowed to check the brakes on a cycle as experts and they are also experts on drunkenness for some reason. They are not allowed to pronounce a body, crawling with maggots, who had misplaced their head as being dead, but anyone who had one pint too many then I and my classmates were there to tell “His Honour” the whole truth. One thing I never discovered was if a body was dismembered when does it change from a body to a body part. I mean how can you say someone is dead from just a leg or eyeball (it did happen later in my career). The rest of the parts may be hopping round somewhere bumping into furniture but still alive.
Other lessons included first aide to help us fit the various pieces of bodies back together and stop that red stuff seeping out of them. I remember one part of the lesson was about delivering a baby. That was something I always wanted to do in my career but never got the chance. I understood the part about boiling lots of water as this baby delivery stuff could take some time and I needed plenty of tea. I was less unsure about the towels but I am sure they fitted in somewhere. There was a first aide test to pass which we were all worried about but luckily the instructor got called out the room for some reason. Good job we were all honest and no one shouted out the answers from the sheet left on the desk at the front. It was not an easy test but we all managed to scrape through with 100%.
I could go on and on about Disforth and what a good time we had but we also learnt so much. In the next blog I will round it off by mentioning practical’s and how I was really stitched up, wearing skirts to a night out, more bonding on the passing out parade and having my boxers handed to me by a certain girl… don’t ask.