The 4th May 1976 was my 21st birthday and as always I was the envy of ‘Trekkies’ everywhere (May the Fourth be with You) even though I wasn’t particularly a fan. What I was a fan of though was the fact I was 13 days younger than Carol and revelled in being her ‘Toy Boy’ for almost two weeks every year (much to the delight of the children – particularly when Carol would physically show her disapproval by clouding me around the ear).

On the big 21 day I received a humongous card with loads of kisses, messages and handprints from the children and Carol (which I still treasure); I also received a telegram which was hand delivered to me by the ‘heavies’ – Naval Security?

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(My 21st birthday card. And a pik with me five minutes ago – how organic is that?)

Bemused why the ‘heavies’ had delivered the telegram I opened it up under their watchful eye and was delighted to get a ‘Happy Birthday’ message from Carol and a confirmation that she and the children would be arriving on 13 May 1976 – what I couldn’t have known then was that exactly 40 years later to the day (13 May 2016) I would finally return to Gibraltar – but then that’s a story for Chapter 3. As for why it was the ‘heavies’ who delivered the telegram I’d have to wait until Carol’s arrival because no-one was forthcoming with an explanation. Later, when I eventually did find out and make sense of the implications, I was outraged.

(My birthday telegram and confirmation of my family’s arrival date)

Since my arrival in Gibraltar my main focus had been finding a flat and settling into my job; I hadn’t really been out drinking or anything because I had very little money and also needed to keep my drink problem at bay. But on my 21st Birthday my colleagues were having none of that and insisted in taking me out on the lash. Needless to say the only thing I remember about any of it was that I (evidently) got totally’ rat-arsed but (to both Carol’s delight and mine) the lads looked after me throughout and then put me into my own bed at the end of the night. What was a lovely touch was Brian (my P.O.) let me sleep it off the following day and if I remember rightly I finally returned to work on May 5th. I also realised my family was arriving in 12 days!!!! Eeeeeek. I had work to do.