Jane's rejections continue into her RAF service.
I completed my six weeks Women's Royal Air Force basic training in Lincolnshire and went with my fellow recruits to the passing out parade as a group of fit, smartly turned out, young women. As we drilled around the parade area in front of our families, three Vulcan bombers flew overhead. The fly-past was impressive, but the noise from the giant delta-winged aircraft was astounding and I noticed many of the visitors in the stand covering their ears.
After the parade, I stood talking to my family at the buffet. My sister and dad seemed genuinely impressed, but I was surprised at the attention I received from my mother as if she were a different woman. However, I was under no illusion and I knew that it was all for show.
I did three months training as a motor transport driver driving three-ton lorries in South Wales before my posting to RAF Seattle in the north of England.
The camp was not what I expected. It was a small quiet communications base and seemed a bit of a let down after my driver training at the large base in Wales. I settled in well though and was frequently asked out on dates, but most of the time I would decline the offers because I could not seem to find anyone with whom I felt at ease with and I had begun to mistrust most of the people around me.
I shared a room with three other girls. It was a friendly atmosphere, but the other girls had regular boyfriends and I spent a lot of time alone in the room. My first year soon passed and I received my promotion, from Leading Air Craftswoman, to Senior Air Craftswoman. I eagerly sewed the three bladed propellers onto my uniform and then stood looking in the mirror, feeling pleased to be a SACW, believing it gave an impression of an experienced professional instead of a first year sprog.
Early one evening, I was sitting alone at a window looking out at a squirrel darting about in a tree. The squirrel didn't seem to have any plan about what it was doing. It just seemed to be wandering about aimlessly. I sat wondering if the squirrel was alone in the world like me, but suddenly another squirrel appeared as if it had been hiding in some kind of a game. They darted down the tree, scampered across the grass, and disappeared up into the branches of another tree. I turned away, disappointed that I had lost my entertainment. I gave a deep sigh and felt lonely and bored as I looked across the empty room. There was a knock on the door and a girl from along the corridor walked in.
"Hello, Marie, I thought that you were going away for the weekend?"
"No, not this week." The girl gave out a wide smile as she walked over. I had always been friendly with her despite the malicious rumours that were spread around the camp about her. I knew Marie had taken a shine to me and was always keen to be in my company. She was an attractive girl; the type of girl that made some of the other WRAF's envious and jealous. She was tall with a figure that could win any beauty contest. Her golden hair was held inside a large French type beret. Her sparkling blue eyes held a strange power that could charm and captivate any man who had the misfortune to gaze into them, only to be led on and then destroyed. "Have all your room mates gone away for the weekend?" she asked.
"Yeah," I replied. "It's unusual for the three of them to be away at the same time, but it happens now and then. I don't suppose I'll see them till Sunday night."
"I'm on my own as well. I thought of going to the pictures but there's a cowboy film on, bloody boring." Marie dropped herself down on the bed opposite me as if it were her own bed space.
"Bloody boring," I said. "This whole camp is bloody boring. When I did my training, I thought I'd be going to a proper air base with planes and that. And here I am, stranded on a little camp that's nothing more than a glorified radio station. I'm always volunteering for detachments and overseas duty, but I never seemed to have any luck. I think I might as well give up."
"It ain't so bad here and believe me you could do a lot worse. Trouble with you is you don't get out enough."
"I don't like the NAAFI much; those idiots from the stores are always trying to chat me up. Why can't people just leave me alone?"
"That's men though, ain't it. You can't be mates with men no matter how friendly they seem. They always have the same thing lurking at the back of their mind. Even the married ones; making out that you're just mates, but at the first chance they'll try to get their hands up your skirt."
I started laughing at Marie's comments even though her words brought Ray to my mind.
"No, it's true though, ain't it? They're all the bloody same." Marie smiled at my reaction to her comments before she continued. "Anyway, you can always sit with us. I've told you that loads of times. Nobody pesters us, you know."
I did know. Marie was feminine and attractive, but her three friends were all well-built girls, looking more like men than women. I remembered when one of them had knocked out an airman for making an unflattering remark to her. There had been no argument, no shouting, she just hit him the once and he was finished.
"Anyway, I was wondering if you might fancy going over to the NAAFI for a drink later and you don't have to worry about those store's creeps. They won't bother you if you're with me."
I had spent time in the bar with Marie a few times and had always enjoyed her company. I often thought of spending more time with her, but I would always avoid Marie if she were not alone because I felt uncomfortable with her friends. However, my roommates and Marie's friends were off camp for the weekend, so I decided to accept the offer and have a night out with her. "A drink. Yeah, all right, I could do with the company and it's better than watching the squirrels."
"Squirrels. No wonder you always look a bit cheesed off if you've nothing better to do than watch a lot of rats with bushy tails." We both laughed before Marie continued. "Come on then you saddo, let's get ready and go and get pissed."
We walked into the bar just after eight. I noticed a small group of girls looking over and I knew they were talking about us, but I ignored them. Marie had never tried to be forward with me.
A group of airmen were visiting from another camp and they invited us to sit with them. I was not keen on the idea, but Marie convinced me that we could have a lot of fun teasing the lads and leading them on.
The airmen were pleased with the company and they were all trying to impress us, hoping to win us over. Two of the airmen thought that they had succeeded and, when the bar closed, they walked back to the WRAF accommodation block with us and we were soon enjoying a heated kissing session.
I was just beginning to relax and enjoy the attention and affection from the young airman when suddenly I heard Marie's partner cry out. As I looked over I saw him stagger back, doubled up in obvious pain.
"How dare you, you filthy bastard," Marie shouted. She looked over to me. "I'm going in, Jane, are you coming?"
Despite my male companion's disappointment, I left him and followed Marie into the block eager to find out what had happened. We were safely inside when Marie began to laugh loudly. A corporal shouted from one of the rooms and Marie tried to contain her laughter, but she continued giggling as we made our way to my room.
As soon as I had closed the door behind us, I looked at Marie and began to laugh with her, although I didn't really know what we were laughing about. "Well come on then, Marie," I said. "Tell me what happened."
"It was so romantic, Jane, him kissing me with the passion of a young Romeo. He took hold of my hand and looked affectionately into my eyes. Without any hesitation, and while still gazing romantically into my eyes, he moved my hand down onto this horrible piece of gristle that was sticking out from his trousers." I gave out a short hysterical laugh. "Anyway, I rewarded his efforts by bringing my knee up into his nuts." We both erupted into laughter again as we dropped onto my bed. Marie put her arm around my shoulder. "Listen, I've got two cans of beer in my locker. I'll pop along and get them."
"Beer. Oh, I don't know about that, Marie. I'm really tired and I think I've had enough to drink. I just wanna go to sleep."
"One more drink won't hurt you. I'll tell you what, you get yourself to bed while I go and get the beer. We'll have a drink and a chat for a while then call it a night."
I reluctantly agreed. I didn't mind Marie's company, but I was having trouble keeping my eyes open and I would rather have just gone to bed. I got changed into a short nightshirt and then got into bed and leaned back on my pillow, dosing slightly while awaiting the return of my friend.
Marie walked in wearing her dressing gown and plonked herself onto my bed. I had removed my make-up, but I noticed that Marie had obviously spent a bit of time re-doing hers. Marie had already pierced the cans and she gave one to me. After taking a mouthful, Marie put her can down on the bedside cabinet and took a tobacco tin out of her dressing gown pocket.
"Look what I've got." She took a hand-rolled cigarette from the tin.
"Is that funny tobacco?" I asked.
"It's a bit better than funny tobacco." Marie lit the cigarette and took a long draw on it before offering it to me. "Here have a puff."
"No thanks, I don't smoke."
"I don't usually smoke either Jane, but this is different; it's not like normal smoking. Go on have a puff."
"No, I don't think so."
"Oh come on, Jane, don't be such a saddo. I thought we were friends; go on take a puff, just for me."
I held the joint and took a small puff causing me to cough.
"No, not like that, Jane, you have to inhale it to get your money's worth." Marie inhaled and blew the smoke out through her nose. She gave the cigarette back to me and I took a large drag, filling my lungs. I began to cough violently, the room seemed to be swaying, and my eyes started watering. Marie grinned as she leaned forward and rubbed my back until I stopped coughing.
"Bloody hell, Marie, I've gone all dizzy. I think I'm going to pass out."
"Maybe you were right; maybe you're not ready for this stuff. Lie down and get some sleep. I'll just finish the beer, then I'll go and smoke the joint in my own room."
I didn't have to be told twice. As well as feeling sleepy, the cigarette had made me feel light-headed and I fell asleep long before Marie had finished the beer.
I began to dream, a pleasant dream. A young prince on a white horse was trotting towards me . He dismounted and his golden hair dropped down to his shoulders as he removed his cap. He unbuttoned his cloak and dropped it to the floor before reaching over to kiss me. I closed my eyes and felt the passion from his lips, lips that tasted so sweet and felt so soft. Of all the kisses in my life, none had given me such thrills as I was getting from his. His tongue flicked around the inside of my lips and across my teeth as his soft warm hands cupped my face from my cheeks to my neck. His right hand moved down my shoulder to my breasts and he fondled me with an expertise that gave me increasing pleasure. His excited breath seemed warm and loud. I turned his face back round and kissed him with a wild uncontrolled passion. His hand began to travel further down my body. I wanted him. I had never craved intimacy so much in my life. My eyelids flicked open as I moved my face away from him, eager to gaze into his blue eyes as he entered me.
"What the hell are you doing?" I screamed.
Marie was naked, and I pushed her off the bed before pulling the covers back over myself.
"Calm down, Jane, you know you were enjoying it as much as me."
"Get out of my room," I shouted. "Get out."
"All right, all right, keep your bloody voice down. We don't want to advertise do we?" Marie picked up her dressing gown and wrapped it around her naked body. "I'll call for you in the morning. We can talk over breakfast."
I waited until Marie had left the room before I ran across and locked the door. I set my alarm clock for half past six. I wanted to be out of the room if Marie did call in the morning. I looked into my mirror as I passed and my feelings of shock intensified at the sight of Marie's lipstick smudged around my lips and on my face. I grabbed my towel and toilet bag, unlocked the door again and made my way down the corridor to the ablutions to clean my face.
Marie tried to talk to me on many occasions, but I would always try to make an excuse to get away. I felt I had to because rumours were already spreading about our night out together. Being a small camp, it was often difficult to avoid her and I didn't wish to be too abrupt and fall out with her. Events soon solved the problem for me when a posting arrived for me to go to an RAF base in Cyprus.
* * * * *
I had been in Cyprus for over six months. It was a scorcher of a day, I had been driving one of the three ton Bedfords for the stores and I felt hot and scruffy. I walked into the airmen's mess and stood waiting in the queue for my lunch when someone began fondling my behind.
"That's a lovely handful, Vicki."
I turned and glared at him. I had seen him about the camp and although I had never spoken to him, I knew who he was. Stan, a well-built and extremely good-looking, regiment gunner. He had an Italian look about him and was popular with a lot of the WRAFs. I knew some of them would give a month's pay just for a date with him, if they got the chance. "What the hell do you think you're playing at," I hollered.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else."
"Someone else. Well you were right then. I am someone else." I turned my back on him again as if to show a lack of interest in him.
"Honestly, I didn't realise. I thought you were Vicki from air traffic. Look I'm Stan. I don't know your name, do I?" I kept my back to him, ignoring his remarks. "It would be nice if you could turn around while I'm talking to you. It feels really weird talking to someone's back." Still I ignored him and I thought he had given up on me. I sat an empty table and was just about to make a start on my lunch when Stan put his tray down opposite. "Do you mind if I sit here?"
"It's a free country you can sit where you like, as long as you don't molest me again." I was still acting uninterested, but was secretly thrilled that he had pursued me across the mess in full view of everyone.
"Look honestly, I'm so sorry about that. Me and Vicki are good mates. We have a laugh and a joke together. I really thought that you were her." He sat down waiting for a response, but he never got one. "I'll make it up to you. I'll take you out tonight. What do you say?"
"No thanks," I said, immediately regretting my words. The most sought after man on the camp and I had rejected him. I thought about changing my mind, but felt I would look foolish if I did.
"I still don't know your name."
I gave a short false smile before making a start on my meal, but I felt awkward by the way that he was looking at me while I was eating. I noticed a driver from the transport section, on his way out. The driver smiled at me, but I pretended I hadn't seen him, and was hoping he wouldn't call out.
"Hello, Jane," he shouted across.
The gunner looked over at the driver and then looked back at me. He leaned on the table and moved forward slightly. "Hello, Jane," he said with a huge smile across his face.
I gave a laugh. "Hello, Stan."
Stan renewed his invitation to take me out, but this time I agreed. Right from the start I felt that the chemistry between us was right. The feelings that we had for each other blossomed and our relationship soon became intimate. I felt proud to be Stan's girlfriend. I knew I was the envy of many of the other WRAFs, but it irritated me that some of the girls became bitchy towards me and I was not happy with the way my friends spoke of him, warning me, telling me he couldn't be trusted. Telling me not to start thinking too much of him because he would be sure to hurt me. I ignored their warnings, and anyway it was too late, I felt as if I were deeply in love with him. As time passed, I thought I had proven my friends wrong having spent many months of bliss and contentment with him, despite the business with Val, an attractive dental nurse.
I had arranged to meet Stan, but I had been held up at work and was already agitated by being late. My roommates annoyed me further before I went for a shower by warning me about the rumours of Stan and Vicki. When I returned to the room and started dressing one of my roommates looked over. "So, you're still going?"
"Why don't you just listen to what we're telling you?"
"Why don't you just bloody well leave me alone? I'm not stupid."
"He's been seeing Vicki again and he's knocked her up, and you want to carry on seeing him. Are you sure you're not stupid?"
I glanced at the three girls in the room, all looking over at me. "For six months I've had it. Everyone sticking the knife in, trying to split us up with lies and malicious rumours, but it's not gonna work. He loves me and you'll all just have to get used to it."
"He's a slag. He loves you all right and about a dozen others as well."
"Why are you being like this? Is it because he hasn't asked you out?"
"He hasn't asked me out because he knows I'd tell him to f-off. He's using you that's all, ask Mary." The girl called across to her friend. "Tell her, Mary, tell her what he said to you last Friday."
"Don't keep on," I shouted. "Just don't keep on, eh."
"Jane, we're not trying to spoil anything here, but we don't like to see what's going on. We just want…"
"Not trying to spoil anything!" I slammed my wardrobe door and snatched up my handbag from the bed. "Well you're doing a bloody good job at it."
"You just won't listen, will you?"
"Yeah, well it's a good job that I didn't listen last time when you were all slagging him off over Val, and look what happened then. She ended up marrying the Medical Officer's sergeant and you lot wouldn't even admit that you were wrong."
"Take them blinkers off your eyes, girl, the sergeant was worth more points to her than a gigolo Rock Ape."
"He's not an ape, and he's not a gigolo. He's a caring, loving, regiment gunner, and a bloody good-looking one at that. Maybe that's the trouble, you're jealous like that lot in the NAAFI. Jealous bloody cows."
"Piss off then, Jane. Go and spend time with him while the two of them are laughing at you. Think I'm jealous of that louse do you? We're trying to help you here and you come out with shit like that. Go on then, go and meet him, you bloody idiot."
"I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to say that."
"Save your apologies. Save them for when you eventually realise that as well as screwing you, he's screwing the arse off Vicki from air traffic."
"He's not, I know he's not."
"He is, Jane, please, please listen to us."
"No, I'm going. I'm not listening to any more of this. I'm happy all right. For once in my life I'm happy." But I didn't look happy as I stormed from the room, slamming the door behind me.
* * * * *
I sat at the table waiting for Stan to return with the drinks. He seemed to be taking a long while and I turned and looked towards the bar. He was standing talking to a girl, a girl that looked like Vicki. I noticed my friends walking towards a table not far from me and I gave a smile. The girls returned the smile as if the earlier argument had never occurred. I looked back at Stan as the girl turned to walk away from him. I could see that it was not Vicki and I felt a great relief that he was not talking to Vicki in full view of my friends.
Stan returned to the table. "All right, what's up?"
"Nothing, nothing's up. Why, should there be?"
"You've had a mood on since you walked in. Not been listening to stupid stories again, have you?"
"No, not really, but the girls are getting on my nerves just lately. Why do they do it? First Val, now Vicki, why don't they leave us alone?"
"Just ignore them; we love and trust each other that's all that counts. Their lives are probably dull and boring and they make things up just to bring some excitement into them." Stan took a drink of his beer, but he seemed concerned by the way that I was looking at him, staring almost. "You don't believe their silly stories, do you?"
I broke into a smile. "No, of course I don't." I barely had the words from my mouth when Vicki walked into the bar. I noticed my friends as they glanced over at the girl and then to me before looking away again. Right, I thought. I'll show them once and for all that there's nothing going on. I called out to Vicki, and Vicki walked over to our table.
"Hi, Vicki," I said joyfully. "I hear that you're courting strong now."
"Courting, no it's a bit more than courting. I think we'll be getting married soon."
I gave a smug look over to my friends, who were trying to pick up every word. When I looked back Vicki and Stan were staring at each other. "So," I said, causing Vicki to look back at me. "Who's the lucky guy, do I know him?"
"Oh I've had enough of this," Vicki said.
"Vicki," Stan muttered as if in a panic.
"No, Stan, I've had enough of all the secrets. I'm fed up waiting for you to end it with her. It'll all come out soon anyway, when I start showing. So are you going to tell her, or shall I?"
"Tell me," I said looking straight at Stan. "Tell me what?"
Stan was flustered, not knowing what to say or where to look.
"Right!" Vicki said, turning her stare towards me. "Well I'll tell you then."
"Vicki, we can talk about this later," Stan pleaded.
"No we can't. It's not fair on me, and it's not fair on her." She looked back at me. "I'm pregnant."
"You're pregnant. So what. What are you telling me for?"
"What I'm saying is, Stan's the father, and he's got responsibilities now."
Despair began to flow into me, but maybe it was not true. I know Vicki was an ex of his and maybe it was just her attempting to split us up the same as everybody else was. I looked at my friends who were all eavesdropping on the conversation. I wished I had not called Vicki over now and I looked at Stan desperate for some kind of a denial from him. "Stan, what the hell is she talking about?"
"Fuck me, do you want me to spell it out for you?"
I ignored her. "Is it true, Stan? Tell me it's not true? Tell me, Stan, what the bloody hell's going on?" I was hoping that he would deny it, but he didn't answer; he wouldn't look at me and I feared the worst. "Oh, Stan, why, why have you ruined everything for a one night stand with her?"
"Jane, it wasn't like that."
"No, Jane, it wasn't like that. Me and Stan first became lovers over a year ago. He has lots of girls, but always comes back to me. Where do you think he is on the nights that he's not seeing you?"
I felt as if my world had collapsed. I stared at Stan, still waiting and hoping for a denial, but his silence confirmed my fears. "How could you do this to me?"
"We can work something out, Jane."
"Work something out, and just what the hell are we gonna work out, Stan?" I looked away and then looked across to my friends knowing they were close enough to have heard everything. I now knew that they were right about him. I realised how foolish I must look, but my roommates presence gave me a boost; I didn't want to look so weak and pathetic in front of my friends and I looked back at Stan. "Piss off, Stan," I shouted. "Just piss off and go away before I do something that I'll regret. Just go."
He stood up. "I'm sorry."
The friend that I had argued with earlier walked over and looked at Stan. "You heard her, now get going before I start and you won't find me as placid and forgiving as Jane, I can tell you. And take that cow with you," she said, pointing at Vicki, "you deserve each other." Vicki kept quiet now that my friend had come over, knowing that the girl was quite a handful when she was put out.
Stan was still looking at me, as if he were trying to think of a way to tell me he didn't care about Vicki, but he couldn't do that with Vicki standing next to him.
"Well piss off then," my friend shouted, causing a lot of attention in the bar. "Why the hell are you two slags still here?"
Stan had no choice, but to leave, and he walked off with Vicki.
My friend sat down opposite me. "Right, finish your drink then you're coming into town with us for a rave up. And I don't want any argument, all right." The girl noticed the tears forming in my eyes. "Don't you let those teardrops run; don't you dare cry, Jane, don't you effing dare." I forced a smile, but I felt devastated and betrayed, unable to understand why anyone I cared for would always eventually let me down.
I completed my tour in Cyprus and received a posting to RAF Madlington in East Anglia. Although I dated a few more men in Cyprus, I shunned away from any moves towards intimacy or commitment. I felt there was never going to be anyone special in my life after the gunner. I dearly wanted to be loved and wanted the companionship of a lover, but no one could be trusted. I would just remain in the WRAF and accept my solitude and would have to learn to live with my loneliness. The main goal in my life now was to study and pass the examinations for promotion to corporal and then sergeant and maybe even flight sergeant. It seemed to me that the only people who could be trusted, and the only gentlemen were officers, most of them anyway. I often wondered what chance I, as a WRAF driver, would ever have of being loved by an officer. Not much chance then, but maybe, just maybe.