Rich is an Officer serving in Afghanistan and when he’s not having tea with the locals, he has kindly agreed to write ‘War’ Diaries exclusively for Trivial Pursuits.
I am happy to report that things have changed rather a lot since my last update, morale is much higher, unfortunately however, so is the temperature. The more dedicated amongst you may want to ‘live my experience’ while you read this- to do so simply take your laptop into the kitchen, turn the oven on, place as much of your body inside the oven as possible and continue to read. If you happen to have a full set of Army issue uniform complete with body armour and helmet then chuck that on for good measure…
For those of you yet to visit a desert I can confirm that the rumours are true- it’s hot. It was 42C in the shade today and is expected to rise another 10 degrees at least over the coming months. What little wind there is tends to be hot and full of dust and at night when the temperature drops to a chilling mid 20s the heat that has saturated everything throughout the day then acts as a primitive form of central heating in order to ensure that you never stop sweating. Good for weight loss, bad for almost everything else. And in keeping with the wonderfully comic irony this tour has provided me with thus far no sooner did the temperature begin to rise than I was moved from my air conditioned office to a new camp where air conditioning is a thing of the future- classic. Oh how I long for kindergarten corner now.
So I am now based further north and in a far more remote location than my cushy desk job- and I absolutely love it. There may be no air con or fridges for cold water or even a shop to buy a cold can of coke from but it is exactly what I imagined this tour to be like. I wake up in the morning (in a pool of my own sweat) and walk outside to watch the sun rising over the Afghan mountains as I wash and shave in the communal metal basin to the melodious tune of soldiers complaining about the heat and everything else for that matter. It’s a bit like what I imagine a modern day camping trip in Zimbabwe to be like. My day has less fixed working hours so I can find time for more important things like sunbathing (a very sweaty business) and carving my own cricket bat from old pallet slats (a very frustrating business, I don’t think pallet slat cricket bats will catch on- they tend to split a lot). The people are a lot more relaxed and there is only one Colonel on the entire camp, which makes a change from the pack of them that preyed on junior officers in my last post.
All in all it’s great, I am still doing much the same job (still desk bound before the female contingent start weeping for my safety) but I am having a far more authentic experience with like-minded people (not the pen pushing, desk sucking, blotter, jotter like Darling here- Blackadder, another great source of morale). And believe it or not I also get paid more for being here- I get unpleasant living and unpleasant working allowance amounting to an extra few bob a day- it all adds up, and before you frugal bunch start protesting ‘oh look where all my hard earned taxes go’ I will justify it with some figures: There are circa 120 men on camp eating 3 square meals a day accompanied by 100,000 flies in 45 degree heat. There are 10 portaloos.
On that note I will leave you to your English heat wave ahead of the Olympics- be sure to use sun cream.
See you for the next instalment.
By Rich Glover