Wrinkled hands are the biggest telltale sign of ageing. Exposed to the elements nearly all the time, they take quite a battering, so cover them up and protect them wherever possible. Use rubber gloves to wash dishes, and gardening gloves when working outside.


There was not a mark on the floor or a hair in a sink or a smear on a window. The stair edges gleamed white as if from a TV advertisement. The place was cleaner than a hospital. Our Board-of-Trade-style beds were perfect to the millimetre. Even the senior cadet turned out to help on Saturdays, because it was his head too if the place failed. And God help us all if that happened. Chiefy found things wrong of course; 40 years of this had taught him everything there was to know. Usually it was a minor grumble that meant nothing: perhaps a small amount of grief for one person, or for an area cleaning team. We only ever failed once: that was when a first-year engineer cadet’s excesses from the previous night couldn’t be held in and he rushed into the bathroom, just as Chiefy started his rounds, to vomit copiously in a sink, on the wall, on the floor, in a trail to one of the toilet stalls, in the toilet, all over himself. Then he collapsed and lay groaning in the whole stinking mess until Chiefy arrived.

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