I had an interesting week in Greenhithe during the summer of 1979 when I went there to attend a Survival instructors course for a week along with 5 other BP Deck, Engine and Radio Officers. This was part of our training for a one year secondment as ships Visiting Safety Officers.
My arrival should have been an indication of what was to follow. I arrived quite late on a Sunday evening, having driven down from Morecambe. When I went to reception area to register, there was a tutor sat at the desk handling admissions. It turns out there was a large intake of Navigation Cadets that day and I, at 24 being the youngest of my group, was mistaken for one of the new intake. The tutor proceeded to give me a right bollocking for being late, and being somewhat taken aback I stood there and took it. Though in my mind I was thinking who on earth does this idiot think he's talking to, I'm not a school kid. Finally, when he let up, I was able to explain I was there for a Survival Instructors course and I wasn't told there was a time limit on my arrival. Realising his mistake he apologised profusely and I was able to complete my registration.
A couple of nights later, our group of 6 went to one of the village pubs and had rather a few drinks. Walking back to the college, if I remember correctly, there is a snicket that takes you round the side of the grounds to the accommodation. As we arrived at this snicket a car pulled up and two young girls got out of it and went down the path we were taking. We all had a bit of banter with them and a bit of flirting to which the girls took umbrage and retorted that their dad was the duty tutor at the college and they'd report us. Basically, we said big deal, we'd done nothing wrong or said nothing offensive or done anything that could be considered threatening. The girls disappeared of to which was probably their house and we carried on to the accommodation. As we approached our room the same tutor that had bollocked me on arrival came storming round the corner shouting the odds and saying we'd attacked his daughters. I made the mistake of trying to tell him what actually happened, recognising me, and probably because I was the smallest and youngest, he made a beeline for me and proceeded to attack me! Fortunately the other guys grabbed him before he did any harm, but I did end up on the floor.
The guy was, in mine and my colleagues opinion, an absolute nutter and bully, he should no way be in charge of young adults. The next day we reported him, I believe he was given a warning and we got an apology.
The rest of the week went without mishap, but the course was absolutely knackering. Although we left just after midday on Friday I was extremely tired and should have stayed overnight, but I had another course to attend in Exeter on the Monday and I wanted to get the most out of the weekend. So I set off home in my trusty Morris Marina 1.8 TC Coupe. On the M1, just north of London, in the build up to the rush hour, I shut my eyes for a split second and ended up writing off my car and a van. I spun the car across 5 lanes, 3 motorway and 2 for the joinig junction, hitting the van on the way, evetually ending up on the hard shoulder facing the right way! I was lucky to walk away from it. Oh how the Police Officers laughed when they heard I was returning from a survival course!
One thing for sure, I'll never forgot my week in Greenhithe!