Backstage in a hangar in Camp Bastion a Saracen draped in camouflage netting meant that there wasn't enough room for me to warm up my legs and feet.
'Sorry, Reg,' I said. 'I know you kindly put it there for decoration.' Garrison Sergeant Major 'Reg' Varnay was our host for the Combined Services Entertainment shows in Bastion. He was also Central Casting for the Victorian Circus Strongman. Bald, freckled and sand-blown, his moustache immaculate. 'I can do most of my warm up on the spot, Reg, but not rond de jambe en l'air, bunny hops or Swan Queen panicking to get the heart rate up.'
'We'll put you in 9th Squadron's hangar next door but one to get ready,' Reg said airily, as though he were always being asked to solve the issue of a drag ballerina having insufficient room to manoeuvre in hangars in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. 'Oh, not wanting to prejudge, or anything, but I think you're going to like Caesar, one of the 9th boys.'
Caesar rippled and bulged from the neck of his brown uniform t-shirt to the tiny waistband of his camouflage trousers. He had eyes like varnished conkers, Miss Pears skin and lips that fell midway between permanent pout and collagen enhanced. We bonded after he was scathing about my sewing.
I was sitting at a workbench darning my ballet shoes amid gauges minus their glass covers, precision tools and tubs of screws. After at least fifteen minutes and umpteen choruses of Stitch, stitch, stitch in poverty hunger and dirt I still hadn't actually threaded the needle.
He crossed to the workbench. ‘Give it here.' Peering at my many previous darns he said, 'Neatness isn’t your thing, is it? And what the fuck...?’
He had also had a sideline career as a porn actor.
'Guy called Bernard gave me his card. Made doubly sure that there really was an advert for the company he said he worked for on the back of the Sunday Sport - first, cos you would anyway, but second because he was a bit of a nob. For my "Soldier of Love" routine, obviously I would wear my real uniform, right? Bernard said, high and mighty, that if I was going to do a squaddie routine then I needed to get myself a costume that looked a lot more the real thing than that. So, anyway, cut a long story short, I gave porn a try. Could do it. Made forty six films in six months.'
Caesar was nodding, pushing out his bottom lip. ‘Fair enough,' he said, 'but did they have to keep reminding her to keep her hair out of the way of the shot when she was giving a blowjob?'
'Not so much. There's certain things that have lasted pretty much intact in popularity since the eighties. Weaponry, techniques of warfare and Abba.'
He received a letter from a woman called Eileen. 'It's through one of these set ups whereby if you haven't got family, or whatever, these do-gooder people will write to you,' he explained to me.
Cheers, Eileen, that was morale-boosting. Next time a letter about you touching yourself so i can have a wank.
And got marked down this time for ingratitude.
#9thsquadron #malestripper #campbastion #CSE #madamegalina