Shitting in a Bag: Well, I want to give you the impression that shitting in a bag is a messy and undignified business, that somehow on first attempt I got it wrong, and sheepishly headed for the laundry.
But it was annoyingly easy and hygienic. I do love this bit about it though. You sally with great vigour to a plywood hut erected in the corner of the compound, this is it, the moment you have been waiting for, finally nature and geography have conspired in a neat 'confluence of ablutions' and you are ready.
Outside is a receptacle full of plastic bags that contain all necessary items. Ripping it open like a child on its birthday the contents explode everywhere, but after retrieval you lay them out in order of size. Firstly you have the bag itself, made of silver foil, the size and shape of a toilet bowl, and with a drawstring handle for tying. Then you have a little packet of neatly folded toilet paper, followed by a hygienic handwash and towel for drying. God bless the army.
The hut itself contains a toilet seat attached to a plywood shelf, with a hole cut where the toilet would be, and you slide you're your bag over this seat and, well, squeeze.
When you look up from your seated position, and the blood returns to your head, you spot a sign on the back of the toilet door, telling you with a '10 point' plan, exactly how to do this. It's rigorous and forceful and with an already admonishing tone. Whatever you do don't skip number five and head straight for number six, because the signage suggests that you will be breaking Military Bylaw 276 Subsection C, and a Swat Toilet Team (STT) will abseil from a hovering Apache crashing through the roof and shoot you dead.
Well I complied like an unthinking conscript, almost as though it had been written for me. Which I think if I was an unthinking conscript it would have been.
Job done, you retrieve your bag, tie it tight and stick it in a bin outside. The following morning you see a man burning 300 silver bags, and you realise that the world really is full of...
Is a Camel an Option?: There is a team staying here from Land Forces, but they are mostly civvies. They are the army's news team and a fine bunch they are indeed. We had hot chocolate together last night in a Bastion café, and for 45 minutes I felt civilian and normal.
When you arrive in theatre you must undertake and complete the R.S.O.I course. This is a five day course that teaches you everything you need to know about eating rice and sewing your own arm back on - it's wizard I can tell you and each evening at 7pm, exhausted, the news team files back in looking like Mr Sandman with sunburn. I don't know of a colour that is a deeper red than crimson, but last night, Derek, their team leader was that colour, and more.
As we dreamed of cream in a can and a flake to complete our hot chocolates, we discussed their days training. They had been Valloning, using your metal detector to find IED's. There was a generally held consensus that things would have gone seriously awry if on a patrol, accompanied by eight heavily armed professional soldiers, the only two remaining who were able to clear a 'safe path' were a middle-aged bloke from Sky with sunburn and a bonny lass from Cyprus.
There was a palpable sense of delirium at the thought and we discussed the options. Initially we agreed that we would all just sit down exactly where we had been standing, survey this scene of obvious devastation around us, count the bodies, and cry like babies until our mother's came and picked us up from school. Then we discussed option two which involved a silver foil bag. Option three initially appeared to be a winner but we dismissed that also. Option three was my suggestion and it's based upon the theory of 'fright and flight'. I said that we should just '*%&@!*€^ leg it'.
Derek came up with option four which we all agreed was a blinder. Before leaving for Bastion he had very nearly purchased a natty watch from Breitling, that if you pull or push or press something on it, alerts all major search and rescue teams around the globe, helicopters would be scrambled, precise coordinates provided and they would have you out of their before you can say 'cherry on top'. Unfortunately Derek decided not to buy this watch in the end and here is the reason why.
Recently, in London, a friend of his whilst very drunk at a party had decided, 'Johnny English' style, to activate his. The authorities in London deduced that a very big plane indeed had crashed in some leafy suburb and emergency services were dispatched in significant numbers. It resulted in a £10,000 fine and a suspended prison sentence. So option four was dead also.
Option Five? Well we are still working on it but it possibly involves three camels!