Being from north of the border I do like a wee dram of whiskey now and again, so when I arrived on tour and discovered that the bar only served cans of Tennnent’s lager, you know the ones with the half naked lady on the tin and cans of Strongbow cider I wasn’t best pleased. To make it worse the Company Sergeant would issue us with two raffle tickets to hand in at the bar in exchange for said cans when and only when we where on our days off from the patrol and guard rotation which didn’t happen that often.

With Hogmanay (New Years Eve to you southerners) soon approaching I needed to get my hands on some of the jock juice, one of the lads in my Platoon had told me that when he was in the first gulf war his wife would send him some in a bottle of shampoo which I thought was a good idea.

The next time I phoned home I explained to my dad the predicament I was in and asked if he would kindly send me some whiskey over in a shampoo bottle, to which he agreed. A few weeks later I received my long awaited food parcel from home containing amongst other things a bottle of Vosene shampoo, I opened the lid a took a wee sniff of the lovely aroma and quickly stashed the bottle in my foot locker before anyone could see it, thinking back I don’t know what the rush was, after all to the untrained eye it was only a bottle of Vosene medicated shampoo.

Every couple of days I would sly the bottle out of my foot locker and take a wee sniff and dream about taking a gulp but I managed to restrain myself as I was saving it for the Hogmanay which was only a few days away.

The night arrived and I was on guard in the towers around camp, two hours in each tower followed by two hours on the gate and then two hours QRF/rest.

I had hidden the bottle in my webbing ready for the stroke of midnight which seemed to take forever to arrive, when it finally did the company commander gave a little speech over the radio wishing us all a Happy New Year and some other bollocks that I wasn’t really listening to, I was too busy getting my bottle of whiskey out of my webbing; I took a final smell before proceeding to take a large mouthful. It was almost an instant reaction; no sooner had I took my first gulp I spat it back out, the whiskey left my mouth at lightning speed followed immediately by a ton of bubbling puke.

My throat was burning as was the anger with my dad, on reflection maybe I should have explained to him that he was supposed to make sure the shampoo bottle was completely empty and thoroughly washed out before filling it with whiskey.

J Conner. HMP Maze 1991 – 1992

Leave a Reply