Tag Archives: Thule Greenland

Mole intelligence: EPISODE 75

Image from Wikimedia Commons Thule Air Base (Greenland) This image was released to Wikimedia Commons by the US government in 2005.  It is the work of a US airman/woman (or employee), taken as part of that person's official duties.

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Thule Air Base (Greenland)
This image was released to Wikimedia Commons by the US government in 2005. It is the work of a US airman/woman (or employee), taken as part of that person’s official duties.

August 7 1999

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

My Dear Ralph

I am sorry dear. I have, indeed, been heavily-occupied in digging a large garden hole and am concerned, in more ways than one, that I might fall into it.

Do, please, be careful not to antagonize your prospective nursing tutor when your course begins in September. You will remember what happened when you got on the wrong side of Miss Fothergill during your (fairly) recent sojourn at the Wortlewell Drug Rehabilitation Clinic? Your escape from surgical lobotomy was by a very narrow squeak indeed – and we don’t want a repeat performance!

Your mention of the lady doctor, Thule Hendrikkson, has provoked several memories of my visit to Thule Air Base in the mid-1970’s. It was just after the conclusion of the Vietnam war and America was once again financially able to catch up with the Russian stockpile of Intercontinental (and submarine-launched) Ballistic Missiles. As I recall it pet, the Russian submarine missiles had an effective range of 3,500 miles and there were 375 submarines deployed in their carriage.

Naturally, the colossal fire power represented by the above was the subject of constant scrutiny by those of us working in the arena of counter-intelligence. I was only an assistant director of the Special Intelligence Service (SIS) at the time, but – one week towards the end of 1975 – I was detailed to fly (with colleagues) to Thule on a liaison mission. You need special attire, believe me dear, to equip you for the bone-frosting chill assailing you when your aeroplane door opens on to the permafrost of NW Greenland. Located at 750 miles north of the arctic circle conditions are unimaginable. And isolated in the extreme.

I myself would not be eager to experience near-permanent conditions of very low light and the probability of sudden white-outs in the form of delta-level storms. It is also very difficult to depart from Thule Air Base owing to the infrequency with which planes land upon the landing strip. We had to stay a whole week and this was certainly an opportunity to observe how some American servicemen whiled away their tour. I was able to discern (through binoculars from our dorm) quite some crates of whisky – and what may have been multiple copies of ‘PlayBabe’ – being stashed in a fairly-proximate aircraft hangar. And, if it hadn’t been for the time it would have taken to don an allocated pair of snow shoes, I would have been importuning for some of these supplies myself (naturally not the ‘PlayBabe’ option) . . .

I do hope that nowadays, in 1998, American servicemen (and women) have more to do during a winter sojourn at Thule Air Base. Perhaps they have built a gym? Perhaps internet technology will have leaped and bounded far ahead? In the summer, of course, for at least four months, there is sufficient daylight for one to join a narwhal-hunting expedition or trips over the ice in a dog-drawn sled. And who could be a philistine (or grump) then?

Yours

Aunt Evangeline

The interview experience . . . (episode 71)

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July 24 1999

401B Concrete Shacks
Wortlewell
CARPOOL C68 4VZ

What ho! Auntie

I am writing with news about my just-completed nurse training interview!

I turned up at Carpool University Hospital clad, I hope, in unexceptionable attire. I jettisoned my Doc Martin’s and booted them inside my bedroom wardrobe. And I also borrowed a clean white shirt and tied a rather dreary beige tie into a loose knot upon it. As you know, if compelled to wear a tie at all, I do favour the smaller, tighter, sort of knot (in a brighter colour) but I thought that Mr Newell Post, the nurse tutor I spoke of in a previous epistle, looked boring to the point of a long snore upon the carpet. And so I decided to favour the drab ‘magnolia’ sort of get up.

The interview went pretty much as expected. Mr Newell post droned on about the weather and the buses before launching himself (eventually) into an enquiry about my motivation for joining a student nurse training course . . . This did stymie me somewhat Auntie as I could hardly cite a desire to escape my weekly – conscripted – attendance at the Job Centre or, for that matter, my devoted, long-term care of my fruit fly, Cyril. So I waffled on, in what is presumably the usual way, about my deeply-seated need to care for sick and injured human beings. I also thought it politic not to mention that this care would, ideally, not involve close encounters with bottom-wiping and the like.

I do think Mr Newell Post might have been taken in by my apparent vocational zeal because he wrote, industriously, on a big sheet of paper for quite some time. And this was time during which I could further study his rather weak lower jaw. But I was taken further aback when he began to expostulate on the location of certain, crucial, bodily organs. Surely, Auntie, the human heart is located on the left-hand-side of the chest, and not the right? And isn’t the liver somewhere on the right-hand-side – under the lower ribs – and not the left? I fervently hope that Mr Newell Post will not be taking the Human Anatomy courses! And I further hope that my growing disrespect for him will grow no further!

Rather more interesting – if not positively frightening – was the tour we (there were six interviewees in attendance) were taken of the renal failure medical ward. I personally think it would have been nice if the ward had had lighter, brighter, windows, but then this would have shown up the yellow-looking, rather wizened, visages of the unfortunate patients. Most of the latter were sitting by their beds in what appeared to be slumped and hopeless-looking postures. Kidney failure is, I know, an enervating condition and it cannot help if one is attached at all times to large bags of infusing fluids. Perhaps medical science will have moved on – in leaps and bounds – by the year 2015 or so. I did feel moved enough to sit on the bed next to one lady, who said that she felt ‘well enough between times.’ But it was hard to have a conversation with Mr Newell Post yelling on about contaminating the bed covers (by sitting upon them). It does not feel a quite equal relationship when you have to stand up to talk to a patient – and they have to remain sitting, or even lying, down.

The only positively bright note came when a Dr T Hendriksson smiled at me while extracting blood from someone’s arm. I think she was smiling in sympathy at the injunctions being uttered by Mr Newell Post. She looked about my age anyway and was small in stature, with dark hair and dark, Slavic-looking, eyes.

“Are you Swedish?” I said.

“No,” she said. “I am part Greenlander and part Dane. My name is Thule.”

Well I was quite smitten Auntie. I hope I get accepted on the beastly nursing course – if only for these, the wrong, reasons!

Toodle pip!

Your loving nephew

Ralph