Mighty Military Magic
When you’re a skinny wimp in an Army unit of macho males, brains count more than brawn.
The Humbling of Horrible Hamish
Slight of frame, blonde of mane and fair of face. He walked with grace did my brother David. He was not cut out to be a soldier, and it showed. Certain civilian gentlemen were always making advances that he skilfully rejected. David wasn’t good just looking, he was beautiful. Witty quips readily fell from his full lips which got him into trouble with the Battery’s bully boys and with those in authority over him. Unfortunately, I was one of those in authority over him.
David was forced to find ways of defending himself from the bully boys he inevitably attracted. He put it around that he could cast magic spells and that people who crossed him suddenly got very unlucky. The first response was, as expected, ridicule. David kept on smiling.
The biggest bully in the Battery was a large Scottish lout, we’ll call him Hamish. He spat in David’s beer one night in the NAAFI* ‘Whit ye gonna do aboot that, shitheed?’ he asked.
David smiled ‘you can buy me another pint and be forgiven, Hamish, otherwise it’s the watch-your-step-curse.’
‘Awa’ tae fuck ye wee gobshite afore ah twat ye.’
‘OK’ said David calmly ‘have it your own way, Hamish. The watch-your-step curse it is then.’ He left the pint and walked out.
Hamish sneered at his departing back. ‘Ye’re a fookin’ pooftah’ he called after him.
Pay night: Horrible Hamish got grandly drunk as usual. At three a.m. David crept into his billet and slipped Hamish’s brand new expensive watch off his wrist. He took the back off with a tool he’d made, filled it with superglue, wiped it clean and replaced it. He also replaced Hamish’s army issue foot powder with an identical tin and sprinkled a little powdered bleach into his victim’s socks. The whole well-planned operation took less than five minutes.
Next day we went on a route march. Nothing too strenuous, just a twenty miler.
After three miles, Hamish began to hobble. After seven miles he slowed, at ten he was almost crying with pain as sweat activated the bleach. He was dropping further and further back to the annoyance of Battery Sergeant Major Robert (Gobby) Hobbie.
‘What the hell’s up with yer?’ bawled Gobby Hobbie ‘Yer walking like a wounded whore, whining like one, too.’ He had a way with words did our Bob.
‘It’s ma feet surr’ Hamish wailed ‘they’re on fire.’
‘I’ll set yer bleedin’ arse on fire if you don’t catch up’ screamed Hobbie. Always ready to offer a word of encouragement was our BSM.
At fifteen miles Hamish was collapsed at the side of the road his boots and socks beside him. His feet were skinned and red raw. Even Bob stopped shouting when he saw them. I approach and asked ‘what time is it, Hamish?’
He glanced at his pride and joy ‘Oh God, the bloody thing’s stopped.’
‘Ah,’ I said solemnly ‘that’s the watch your step curse mate. You’d best apologise to my brother and buy him a pint, or it could get worse.’
Hamish was in agony and in no mood for listening ‘bollocks, Sarge’ he said, ‘Ah’ll no be buying that wee twat onything.’
‘Suit yourself’ said I ‘better watch your step, though’ with that, I marched on leaving him to the following medics. They misdiagnosed it as athlete’s foot and advised him to wash his feet frequently, dry them thoroughly and make sure to use plenty of foot powder. David’s replacement foot powder was fifty percent bleach. After a week of his condition worsening Hamish hobbled over to David in the NAAFI with a pint and an apology.
‘Will ye no tak this bloody spell aff of me David?’
‘Sure’ said David ‘but spells are easier to put on than take off, it’ll cost.’
A deal was struck, and David said he’d make some magic powder that would release the spell. He nipped to the local chemist and bought some potassium permanganate. Then he acquired some sugar from the cookhouse. A large bucket of scalding water was produced, and the scene was set. A crowd of eager squaddies gathered to watch the spell.
David lit a candle and sat cross-legged on the barrack room floor muttering an incantation, a mixture of altar boy Latin and German swear words. Then he stirred the bucket with a spoon and slowly poured in his “magic” powder. Hamish and the crowd watched in awe as the powder turned the water a deep violet colour. As it swirled and billowed in clouds David kept chanting to distract the on-lookers. He slipped a small amount of potassium permanganate and refined sugar into is hand. Leaning over the bucket he rubbed his hands briskly together. The compound burst into flames and David let out a mighty roar plunging his hands into and out of the water, extinguishing the flames. Big Hamish let out a shriek of terror and tried to do a runner, but David had briefed two burly helpers. They grabbed the injured man’s feet and plunged them into the bucket. Hamish screamed the bloody billet down but was held whilst David counted off thirty seconds.
‘Oh, Jesus, David’ gasped Hamish, ‘am I cured noo?’ he was looking at his steaming red feet and ankles, his craggy face a mountain of misery.
A stern-faced David and shook his head ‘No, not yet Hamish. Wait until the water cools and soak your feet for two hours. Tomorrow, the same ritual but with iced water, OK?’ David gave him a tin of fresh foot powder ‘use this from now on Hamish, I’ve blessed it. Throw yours away, it’s been cursed. ’
Next day, after the same ritual was performed before an even bigger crowd, David declared the spell lifted and Hamish would start to heal.
‘Sorry about the watch mate it, reversing only works on human beings.’
Hamish healed, and David’s reputation was sealed. The only fly in the ointment now was Gobby Hobbie who loved making the gunners’ lives a misery. The lads asked David to do something about him. ‘I’ll think on it.’ was all he would say.
Gobby’s Guts Gone
David’s chance came whilst we were out on manoeuvres. He went to the field kitchen for his dinner only to be confronted by Gobby. ‘Your hands are filthy, gunner. Bugger off and clean them. And I mean clean’ he bawled
‘But I’ve been working with graphite grease, sir it’s very difficult to remove, sir.’
‘‘You’ve got ten minutes.’ snapped the unrelenting Warrant Officer ‘Move yer arse.’
David sneaked to Gobby’s tent and rescued his toothbrush, scrubbing his hands and fingernails clean with it. He then dipped the toothbrush into some nearby dried animal dung the shook off the excess before replacing it. For good measure, he also put a thin smear in Gobby’s tin mug, aided with spit.
He told the lads he’d cast a tummy bug spell on Gobby and to see what the next twenty-four hours brought. Sure enough, next afternoon, Gobby went down with volatile vomiting and severe diarrhoea.
Within an hour, Gobby was gone.
Sex Spells Sells
After returning to camp the lads were sitting in the NAAFI drinking and rejoicing at Gobby’s ailment. The bugger was off work for a week to everyone’s great relief. They were also bemoaning the fact that none of them could get off with Theresa, the fittest NAAFI girl we’d ever had ‘she must be a lesbian’ declared Horrible Hamish to a sea of nodding heads. Like the majority of soldiers, they all considered themselves God’s gift to women.
Theresa had turned down every advance with the same harsh words ‘Yer only after one thing, yer randy bugger’ she was right, too.
‘I’ll get a date with her’ declared David ‘give me a week.’
‘Yeah, right, good luck with that mate’ said Gunner “Goddo” Gonelly, the Battery’s most rampant Romeo and successful seducer, ‘pigs might fly.’
‘How the hell did you get off with her?’ they all wanted to know the following week as several large bets changed hands.
‘Love spell of course.’
David sold a dozen “love spells” at thirty shillings each to gobsmacked gunners. ‘They only work if you follow the strict instructions’ he told the gullible gits ‘break one of these rules and yer buggered.’ The rules stated that they must ask for a date respectfully. They must turn up smartly dressed, no groping, swearing, dirty jokes or getting drunk. Take flowers, treat her to a meal and/or the cinema, then walk her home. Only kiss her good night if she wants you to. Only then ask for a second date. On the way too and from the date you must repeat the spell in your head constantly and smile at all times.
There were several reports of great results and David was inundated with eager buyers.
I learned years later how David had pulled Theresa. He’d told her he was gay and that he just wanted a gentle, understanding friend he could talk to. They had a couple of platonic dates, on which he treated Teressa like a lady and made her laugh with his witty jokes. On the third date, he intimated that her beauty and sweet personality was curing him of his ‘gayness.’ The silly girl believed the crafty little bastard and David spent a lot of nights in her room just being ‘cured.’
* NAAFI Navy Army Air Force Institution run the bars and shops for the British Army equivalent of the American PX.