Pads Brat Life

42 signs you were a Pads Brat … fellow Brats leave the number of the one which made you smile the most. 😃

1. People ask you where you’re from and you don’t even try to explain as your not entirely sure!
2. Your Doctor, Dentist and Chaplain wore combat boots.
3. You’ve taken a few flights that involved sitting in jump seats, wearing your winter jacket the entire flight and taken off and landing at military airports.
4. You’ve eaten more than one really posh Christmas meal in the “mess” and been told to be on your best behaviour to then watch the adults get hopelessly drunk and misbehave.
5. You always have emergency ration packs around the house and can make a meal out of anything tinned.
6. You’ve never had to explain to your Military friends that you just found out you’re moving … again!
7. You’re the most efficient packer you know and actually enjoy it.
8. You’ve known from a young age Life is not always easy or fair but your job is to make the most of it and smile regardless.
9. You are tough, adaptable and good at making friends.
10. You wouldn’t trade your childhood and upbringing for anything in the world.
11. You know you shouldn’t but you judge people who don’t know the phonetic alphabet.
12. Turning up 10 minutes early for an appointment means you’re late.
13. You were soooo proud you had a British military ID.
14. Anyone older than you is Sir or Ma’am, “No exceptions.”
15. Your chores were mandatory and were always inspected military style.
16. You are born with a immediate respect for anyone in uniform.
17. Santa always turned up in a military helicopter to the Mess and wore combat boots and DPM trousers underneath his red jacket.
18. You were never alone, and even when you were, you were always pretty content and happy.
19. You’ve stood for the National Anthem in a cinema.
20. You have an instant connection with other brats no matter what sex or age.
21. You have friends all over the world.
22. You can “go with the flow” better than your civilian counterpart, even if you’re not comfy, you always fit in and hold yourself well in any group.
23. No one or nothing was more scary than your father’s commanding officer.
24. You’ve not got the toys you grew up with and can’t remember where they went.
25. You never ever questioned your lifestyle, things were just as they were and it was accepted, now you look back in affectionate amazement.
26. You know it’s really 17:00 not 5pm.
27. You get excited when you meet someone who has been to the same base or country as you and have an instant bond and shed loads to talk about.
28. Going back to your own country was a complete cultural shock.
29. You never thought it was weird that you grew up inside a armed guarded cage, you just knew you were safe.
30. Your only source of communication with your Dad when he was away were “blueys”.
31. In school, you had fire drills but you also had nuclear war drill and prepared for terrorist attacks.
32. You put German curry sauce on everything and love trying new foods and flavours.
33. You feel somewhat sorry for civilian children and feel like they have missed out.
34. Having the amount of different schools attended as you did is a kind of badge of honour but you cant remember more than two teachers names, what school they taught you in or what year!
35. You’ve worn military green thermal socks that doubled up every Christmas as your Christmas stocking.
36. You’ve looked under your car for bombs or devices, also had your school bus searched twice a day by armed soldiers considered normal.
37. You never bothered to memorize your home telephone number, it changed too frequently.
38. You refer to non-school clothes as “civvies.”
39. It wasn’t alarming or nothing new to see guys jump out of airplanes or dangle from speeding helicopters.
40. You can’t keep track of how many houses you’ve lived in but can remember the view from your bedroom windows.
41. You are probably one of a few people that have actually fully read this whole post and liked and shared it.
42. You can’t stop finding reasons why being a Military brat is great.

Have a padded day, won’t you!

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“Hör auf zu meckern!”

Hello, everybody.

For those who don’t speak German, the title translates loosely into colloquial English as:

Stop your bl00dy moaning!

In the past month I’ve been doing pastoral work for the local church.  Anyone can wear the label.  Anyone can talk the talk.  Can they walk the walk?  For sure it’s rewarding, helping people to sort their problems, whether that be depression, loneliness, falling out with friends, etc.

But…………

Fast-forward to the last 24 hours.

Last night I went to the local ELCN (English Language Comedy Night) in DUS Altstadt.  It was excellent as ever, including seeing the world’s shortest comedian.  (But some other time, please.)

I get home just after 01:30, pretty much still on a high after enjoying two hours’ live stand-up comedy including the world’s shortest comedian bantering with a bald man who was a hair brush salesman.  (But some other time, please.)

A quick check on my emails and Facebook.  I’m still a bit “hyper” from the ELCN.

G, my old classmate from pads brat days nearly 40 years ago, is online.  Night owl.

Then comes the bombshell.

G, a policeman, tells me matter-of-factly,  his wife had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which had spread to the lungs.  (British understatement: Not very good news at all.)

I immediately submit a prayer to York Minster Prayer Box.  I say kind words to G… which probably all his friends had told him earlier on in the day.

It’s now 02:00.  Bedtime and BBC Radio Five.

Fast forward about 10 hours.  I’m at church, using one of the meeting rooms as a study to read one of my IT text books.

A member of congregation happens to walk in.

MoC:

Hello German Ginge.  How are you?  Bleat bleat bleat moan moan moan grumble grumble grumble…  The local kiosk had run out of bread rolls, or some similar catastrophe.

G in G:

MoC, let me tell you something.  I really enjoyed the comedy evening last night.  But something spoilt it, I’m afraid.  You see, in the wee small hours this morning, I found out that a friend of mine has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Now, do you still want to tell me about what a morning you have just had?

MoC – exit stage left.  Bis später.

Have a grateful day, won’t you!

 

 

Pads Brat Ways: Part 94

I’ve been off ill the past three days.  Bit of a cold/man flu.  Symptoms not important.  I think of how the pads brat/military family attitude varies from that of “bl00dy civvies.”

Had I been ill with these symptoms as a pads brat, what would my mum have said?  Probably:

You’re still bl00dy well going to school in the morning.  I’m not having you staying at home, coughing and spluttering, like you’re bl00dy well going to die, making the bl00dy place look untidy.

Maybe on a good day, i.e. when I was off my food and sweating like a menopausal woman sitting in a sauna after eating a vindaloo curry, she’d relent and even let me lie on the living room sofa and even, and even, let me watch Crown Court, with its Ohrwurm theme tune, on TV.

Mhairi, author of the excellent Diary of the Menopause blog, may hopefully one day tell us of the day her mother sent her to school, when Mhairi had mumps.  Yes, mumps, fellas!  Ouch!

Instead, the last three days, I’ve been watching Auf Wiedersehen Pet on DVD and a few documentary programmes about the fall of the GDR, Unsere Republik.  On my own.  In peace and quiet.

Today I got bored senseless and left my house to go shopping.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!

My Ex-Pat Grump

I think I’m going to sound like one of those Torygraph readers, bashing out a fuming letter and calling for the return of:

  • The birch
  • Capital punishment
  • National service
  • The 11-plus exam

I’m not.  But I feel the need to rant about modern society, at least, in the city of Düsseldorf.

Why do so many passengers on the S-Bahn (local stopping trains), U-Bahn (the Tube/subway) and trams insist on doing one of two things during rush hour.

  1. Sit on the window seat, bag on aisle seat.
  2. Sit on aisle seat, with window seat unoccupied.

Oh, and youngsters, using half-price child tickets, never, ever give up their seats to adults, even to Oma who’s about to join Hugh Hefner, or Frau Schwanger who’s 8.5 months pregnant and hours away from contractions.

Am I being too harsh?  As a pads brat, I come from a disciplined environment, where you do without moaning, and defer to your seniors.  For me it was a pleasure to stand up and offer my seat to an adult, without having to be prompted.

(Pardon me while I get some Brasso to polish my halo.)

Earlier this week I boarded the team home after a session down the English Library.  Lots of people standing.  Lots of schoolkids sitting, bags on the adjacent seat.

I’d like to sit here, please.

(Tut and sigh.  Bag gradually lifted by owner onto his 13-year-old lap.  A face like thunder.)

Herzlichen Dank!

13-year-old face like thunder.

A minute later I spot a harrassed mum with her 5-year-old son.

I stand up.

13-year-old with face like thunder moves bag from lap to my seat.

I offer my seat to mum with son.

Harrassed mum with son accepts offer.

Pick your bag up, please!

Mum sits down and sighs with relief.

13-year-old with face like thunder just humphs and rolls his eyes, his sense of entitlement severely breached.  Pech!

Humph once again.  I dare you.  I double-dare you…

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Have a considerate day, won’t you!

 

 

 

Ex-Pat Life

As a pad’s brat, I’ve been around the world, and also as an adult.  My first ever “proper” graduate job brought me to Bangkok, Thailand, for three months training back in 1995.

BKK is notorious for many things.  The bars.  Their “live entertainment” is somewhat more interesting than bingo, karoake and stand-up comics.  Watch Spalding Grey’s monologue, Swimming to Cambodia if you want to enjoy an analysis of Thailand, filled with dry, dark humour.

I spent my first Saturday in BKK with Brij, a new Indian colleague.  We were down one of the go-go bars of Soi Cowboy (“Soi” being Thai for “alley”).  Brij was by now getting rather “friendly” with one of the staff.

Ginge in Germany:

Er, Brij, I think that’s a lady boy.  They have a rather large Adam’s apple.

Brij, hand over “barmaid’s” chest:

No, don’t be silly.  She’s got a great pair here.

Ginge in Germany:

Yeah, but I think he’s also got a great pair down below…

Brij, hand sliding down somewhat lower:

Rubbish… she’s definitely a… ermmmm… er…

Now, to Brij I dedicate this fine Bee Gees hit.

Have a ladylike day, won’t you!

Rheindahlen Military Cemetery Visit

A very poignant day today.

I did it.  I visited Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.

It’s nowadays not easy to get to, now that JHQ is closed.  My advice is to drive there, or take the number 26 bus and bring a pair of hiking boots for the final leg from the nearest bus stop.

Today was a bright, sunny, warm day, not enough to give a redhead sunburn.  I kept my promise to visit the babies’ section of the cemetery, which I had made to the mothers of three stillborn babies.

The cemetery was beautifully maintained.  Row upon row of gravestones, most with corps and regimental cap badges chiselled in.  Some, however, had no regimental badges engraved, but perhaps an angel or a simple cross.  These were the babies’ graves in an L-shaped section of the cemetery.

Did I feel emotional?  Not until I saw one gravestone that read:

Aged 10 minutes.

And then another:

Aged 6 hours.

And yet another:

Aged five days.

When I saw those graves, it all became so, so real: the Kopfkino images of the struggle to stay alive, of pride and ecstacy of becoming a parent and then the anguish of seeing life extinguished so soon after it had come into the world.  And then not being able to visit the grave at the drop of a hat.  Does that make the grieving process easier, or does that make the process much harder?

And then the stillborn babies.  Society has changed in its attitudes towards them.  Until the mid-70’s or 80’s, stillborn babies were buried in the cemetery without even a headstone, as if, because they had not even taken one mortal breath, even for ten minutes, they were maybe not even “proper” babies.  I took photos of their section and explained to their mothers that I was not able to find their babies’ exact resting places.  Nonetheless, I received messages of thanks for sharing photos of their resting places, and that made the visit all worithwhile.  The following is going to sound very cliched.  As a single man with no children, I can – literally – only imagine what the mothers must have gone through.

Rest in peace, little ones.  Rest in peace.

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Have a poignant day, won’t you!

 

 

Cemetery Visit

I was born on dd/mm/yyyy in a British military hospital in Germany.  I am a pads brat, and proud of the fact.

The army wife giving birth before my mother died during childbirth.  I did not know that fact until ten years ago, when I was living near Oxford and planning a visit to Germany.  My dad asked me to do him a big favour and visit the grave of the mother in question, which, some months later I did.  It was a gloriously sunny day.  The Rheindahlen Military Cemetery, where she was buried, was billiard-table green and very peacefully quiet.

Two thoughts occurred to me as I stood at the lady’s grave.  Her name is Margaret.

  1. When had anyone last been to see her grave?
  2. The Angel of Death could have taken me, but chose to take Margaret instead.  Even on my darkest days, I have reminded myself of that fact.  There has to be a reason why I was allowed to live.

On Facebook among the anti-Trump, “what I am having for lunch” and cute animal photos, I recently saw some posts from two army wives regarding the Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.  Tragically, these two ladies had lost babies in the same hospital where I was born.  After making enquiries of various contacts that I know, I am intending to visit the cemetery in the next few days to visit the graves of the babies buried there, as well as to take photos and video footage to share with the mothers of these babies.  As a single man with no offspring, I can only imagine the pain these mothers will have gone through, when the Army and society in general were much more “stiff upper lip” than nowadays.  Since those first two army wives messaged me, I have received two or three other requests to visit other babies’ graves.

It is my humble duty and privilege to be living close enough to the cemetery for me to pay a visit.  Door to door: about 90 minutes.  I feel it is the least I can do for my fellow pads brats and families, to pay my respects and say a prayer by their babies’ graves.

Finally…  Some years ago, I remember a story about an army wife wanting to have her daughter’s remains repatriated some years after her burial back to England, where her parents were now living.  In preparation for the planned move, the mother came over to the grave at Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.  Standing by her daughter’s grave situated among the dozens of other babies’ graves, she told her husband:

No.  Let’s leave her here, so she can carry on playing with all her friends here.  They’d miss her terribly.

 

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Have a peaceful day, won’t you!