Though I have you, still she’s always on my mind,
The rain falls down, I’m soaking through
I’m an old man inside a young man’s suit.
This song reminds me of me old mate Skip. An electrician that actually had a clue (well when i say he had a clue, he could get things done in any way needed) but thats the best sort of professional. There is the right way and then there is THE right way. Books can teach you how stuff works and what t o do if it all goes wrong, experience will allow you to do pretty much whatever you wanted to achieve the same aim. By christ Skip came with experience. Jim Brennan with a northern accent we ribbed him often.
I first met Chris, (Chris Hopper, but he’ll be called Skip from here on in) at the Corporals Mess in Warminster serving with the Land Warfare Training Centre (LTWC) on Salisbury Plains. The best part of this posting (There weren’t many ill grant you) was that the resident Regiment at the time was the Green Howards, (More bloody Northern Monkeys) honestly, i could sit in the bar and close me eyes and I was whisked back to my hame town on a weekend. I honestly thought he was in the wrong bar, he looked for all intense and purposes like a crusty old Artisan Sgt who had been done over by life and promotion. Well no, he was just one of us, as soon as he opened his mouth and called me a Geordie wanker i knew we were going to hit it off somehow.
His skills on the exercise area (and obviously in camp) were second to none.(I make NO apologies for any other ex sparks out there that read this, but he could reanimate a dead Craftsman with the right wiring diagram. I did ask him many times to show me some clever stuff on the wagons (CVR(T)) (Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)) but he would just look at me shake his head and say nothing. the dejected look he kept for special occasions, every friggin occasion with me was special, i didn’t have a clue about electrical shite, (I once set a Kingos helmet on fire with a dodgy wiring repair on his Warrior during an exercise in Canada), So Skip knew who to help and who to ignore…. He helped me a lot 🙂
His drinking in Warminster was legend, Me mate Harry Harrison and I would stand at the bar many times in the town propping it up on quite a few occasions every week, Im sure Harry has his own stories about their times too, something about St Georges Day doing the conga from one pub to another in the town (Why wasn’t I there?) We did shocking Karaoke and had many a drunken argument about bugger all. He taught me that during the start of the month (when we were rich just haven been paid) that you should leave a long stub on your cigarette, then when the leaner times hit (around week two mostly) you could go back and revisit those tabs and use their tobacco in some rizlas that we possessed.
I remember he visited one of the lads Rob, in South Africa, Now Skip being Skip was just a Northern Bloke wherever he went. He told me he lost Rob in a bar in some township somewhere, so he started shouting his name in order to attract his attention if he could hear. Unfortunately Robs nickname is “Kaffa” you could imagine the smiles and laughs around that bar!!!!
Skip meant a lot of things to a lot of people, to many he was a consummate professional who would stop at nothing to get the job done, to others he was a mate, to a few he was a true friend. I considered him a friend, even though we didn’t have much contact when we parted company from LWTC, we certainly knew what was going on with each other. My last contact with him, he told me he was in Oman and i should go over as there was plenty diving there. I will dedicate my IDC to you Skip. A friend, a comrade, a soldier. “Arte et Marte”
Oh its Crocodile Shoes by the way
For Chris Hopper (Skip) and all those that knew him