Not quite sure when I sent this email - my diary gets a bit sparse around this time. I sent it over a mobile phone (tsk tsk) on a daytrip to Kuwait

We (Ed, Conn and myself) have just had the most luxurious few hours for six weeks. We've been escorting someone back to Kuwait airport where the Americans have a superb camp. They have a shop, although like all the others it sells the same goods: snacks, ciggies, soft drinks and soap, nothing actually useful. The restaurant/scoff house has hot FRESH food - including ice cream! Stuffed ourselves (more) silly with chicken, rice, fresh salad with dressing (phowar, undressing salad...) and several helpings of ice cream, washed down with COLD fizzy pop. I haven't burbed so much before. I hate to think what this is going to do to our digestive systems. More tales of poo no doubt. Good job we've got lots of bog roll.

We're now in an air conditioned tent where the temperature is 20 C and I'm freezing. It's also got American style camp beds, which I am about to STEAL in true sqaddie fashion (after some massaging of the concience by my fellows) as my little sprung one has days to live. Getting in is a bit of a balancing act as the legs sway back and forth, and my head is sinking slowly day by day (or rather night by night) to the level of scorpions, killer camel spiders, scratchy little beetles and other nightmare creatures that are VERY large when viewed from not very far away.

Watched the news, same old same old, I guess you lot must be fed up with it by now. I am and I only watched about half an hour. I see the big black pointy arrows are winning.

Then Star Wars Attack of the Clones (seems appropriate to the situation). I'd forgotten how crap the acting is. The sound effects were enhanced by planes taking off in the background (couldn't hear the dialog but it's pretty irrelevent). The visual effects are less overwhelming now I've seen artillary barrages, helicopters prancing about at night and enormous explosions and fires as the engineers blow up blowy up things. Cor aren't I a sanguine man of the world. I had to look up "sanguine" after Cpn Clayton of A Coy used it in a letter to me, so it's my new word now.

I am now one of 4 remaining TA types attached to G Sqn; everyone else have/has gone somewhere else. Probably home the barstewards. We've been moved on from sanguinely gaurding big piles of pipes and things to sit sanguining in a helicopter park, which offers 'great views' of helicopters, but suffers from no roof or walls and so is very dusty. We're not sure what's happening next; we've been told to prepare to reroll as infantry (yah boo sux) up north for several weeks, presumably to help peace keeping operations given all the looting. So please (Mum & Dad/Guy/Mark/Stew) do please send me the desert boots (8M) and a couple of pairs of trasers (80/84/100) so my feet don't melt and I can blend in with the local decor. We're all a bit annoyed about this as (1) although the RY (us TA types) are reasonably up on infantry, we've had no training on peace keeping, and (2) we've been trained up for and called up to do NBC; if there isn't any, we would like to go home and get on with our civvy jobs. The NBC regs feel the same way too though about getting home (some of these poor sods have been away lots more than they've been home this last year), so can't be too 'special' about it. We'll just need to be sanguine.

I ought to mention poo somewhere here given the last email (I blame all that on the other editors. Ahem). I had a rather desperate urge the first night we arrived at the helicopter park and so did the usual squat over a ditch near our laeger. Only in the morning did I discover it was the rubbish burn pit a good 12' deep. I would never have got out if I'd fallen in...

Thanks very much again to everyone for letters and parcels. It's like Christmas when they arrive, and the letters are ripped open and devoured immediately and many times afterwards (so much more tasty than rations), which can make driving a little hairy. Unless you're natuarally sanguine. Please don't send any more chocolate - the temperature reaches over 40 C by mid morning most days, so any parcels with chocolate in turn up like some kind of mixed poo bag. aha! reference two!

Speaking of peace keeping (refer back a bit, wot have you forgotten already?) we've been doing vehicle check points and stuff; could some ROE person ask Omar if he would send me an e-bluey (yes your e-blueys are getting through and it's great to get them) with simple arabic words such as large, small, too much, too little, no problem, sorry, come, go, wait, today, tomorrow, yesterday, before, after, an hour, car, me, you, him, her, good, bad, what is, where is, help him/her, how much for your women, etc. I have 'shokran', 'min fadlack', 'salaam eleikum', 'la', 'naam' and 'enda chemsha matako yako' ('go and boil your bottom' in swahili) which is limiting to put it mildly. It would make it easier to be nice to people. And easier to catch Bad Looting Guys if we can communicate. We could also do with something to tell the children who are running about the motorways wanting sweets; we had some entirely non-sanguine moments on the way here when they ran out in front of the vehicles to stop us to demand some. Pesky kids.

Had a wee adventure the other night while on roaming patrol at the GOSP. I was paused by a fence corner, towards the end of a 2 hour stint, with 5 minutes to go before waking up the next lot (ie, probably not being the lert* I should be), when there was a pause in the howling wind and a terrific clang from the (unoccupied) compound behind me. Being the good signaller I am, I was on the floor with my finger on the transmit button (rather than cocking the weapon) about to call in air strikes, artillary fire missions, mortars, tanks, death stars and the metropolitan police. Unfortunately it was a short-range radio, so I settled for the fire trench overlooking the compound, who had a night sight and a BIG GUN. It took a good few minutes before I realised the callsign I was using referred to a different post altogether (imagine the confusion - "look to your left at the compound" and the guys I'm talking to were looking to their left at the poo pit - aha! reference three!), and more time to explain what had happened. By this time nothing further had happened and the fire trench guys told me a hanger door had been doing that all night. I haven't admitted that it was me that was the 'twitchy' patrolman that night, although I remain convinced that Special Iraqi forces are playing with our minds by making things go clang in the night.

Anyway I'm now going to entirely selfishly stop writing (so it hasn't had as much tweaking as the previous ones) and sleep in this lovely tent with lovely beds and not so lovely freezing cold air, before heading back up north to the sand tomorrow morning at oh my god it's early o'clock. I might start writing another email while I'm out of e-touch, ready for the next dodgy opportunity to send one.

Thanks very much, lots of love to you all (especially the pretty ones, phowar) and see you all as soon as I programme in the coordinates of Amman into my GPS and get enough fuel in my Land Rover to get me there.

Wibble, but sangunely,


* We're always being told to be a lert.

The Americans here are so *sweet*! Even the roughty toughty types!