Week 4 Desert Isolation sitrep; my legs are sore from Joe Wicks workouts, my tummy is sore from having ready access to a well stocked fridge, my hands have calluses from…gardening, my children can still read and count thanks to Lexi’s heroic efforts, I continue to witter away on my blog to almost no one, I have caught up on all the jobs I have been putting off for months, accounts are up to date, holidays have been cancelled, shelves are hung, online pub quizzes completed, compost heaps made, veg patches dug, a puppy has been rescued, the lawn is mowed, air conditioning serviced – I don’t think I could be more prepared for this isolation to end.
But for now we, like the rest of the civilised world, are doing our best to stay isolated, who knew the basic luxury of eating in a restaurant would be so keenly missed, or that friends and interactions fill a gaping hole in your entire existence – isolation is incredibly dull, we all miss normal life, but I hope by doing our tiny little bit we are all serving the greater good and supporting the heroes that are working so tirelessly to protect us. So on we plod hoping that the light we are all looking for at the end of this tunnel comes marching towards us sometime soon.
The isolation has reminded me that 15 years ago exactly I deployed on operations with the Coldstream Guards to Iraq on Op Telic 6, my first encounter with desert isolation back in 2005 was quite different to this one. Back then blog’s didn’t exist, certainly not for me, but I did write some vaguely entertaining letters home during my 7 months of isolation in the middle of Basrah. I was lucky enough to have an insanely dull time personally, despite some people around me experiencing some God awful situations that remain etched in history as a painful reminder of how horrible things were in Iraq at the time.
On this day 15 years ago I had just landed in Shaibah Logistics Base as part of the forward training team for 12 Mechanised Brigade, our job was to acclimatise the 4,500 soldiers arriving shortly behind us through a series of live firing exercises in the desert, and once complete we would then rejoin our regiments in our forward positions for the rest of the tour. It meant 15 years ago today I was living a long way from the action getting quite bored, and it did sadly mean that I found myself getting into a bit of self induced mischief involving some lighter fluid and a zippo that resulted in me being admitted into the worlds best burns unit for a few days before I had even stepped foot into Basrah…
I produced a letter home every two weeks of our tour, starting on the 27th April 2005, I am going to reproduce them, hopefully correcting some of the spelling, they start in 2 weeks time neatly filling the void of adventure stories isolation has created for the next few months. They are a light hearted take on what was at times a scary situation and I hope you enjoy them.