Friday, April 04, 2014

The Day I Decided Not To Join The Army

We all make choices. Choices that change the entire direction of your life for better or for worse.

Some people choose to be Tottenham supporters, and subject them to a lifetime of failure and an inferiority complex when it comes to Arsenal. Glad I made the right choice there.

But it's not just about your choice of football team. It's down to life's very fundamentals: Who you choose as your life partner. Who you choose as your friends. What you choose as your career.

You win some and you lose some, and sometimes you make a poor choice, and life might be charitable enough to give you a second chance.

At the age of 20, I was resolved to join the armed forces. For some reason, I had talked myself out of joining the RAF, talked myself out of going through the officer selection - reasons of crushed confidence - and put myself forward for the Army as a private soldier.

The idea was to head to the Intelligence Corps. Or the Pay Corps. Or Signals. Things were a bit fuzzy in my brain and I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted.

So, I took a train up to Sutton Coldfield, took the selection exams, took the basic fitness test, was asked in no uncertain terms why I wasn't bloody well putting myself forward as officer material, and was offered a place in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.

It was on the train back south that I made my decision.

The carriage was full of my fellow recruits, and they were a bit - to say the least - boisterous. In fact, it was what people these days called "Bants".

And the target of these bants was - as you'd expect - the posh boy listening to Kate Bush on his Walkman who didn't want to be an officer.

After two hours of piss-taking, insults and petty theft from pretty much the worst people in the world, I was resolved. Two hours with my fellow soldier was enough to tell me that they were the last people with whom I wanted to spend the next ten years of my life.

I got off at Reading, went home, cancelled my application, spent the next three years or so doing absolutely nothing in the civil service, then another ten years before decided I really wanted to be a writer,

So, screw you, bants. I sometimes regret not joining the Forces, but terrible people changed the course of my life.

For the better, in the end.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Being an officer is significantly harder work, but, overall, worth it.

Should've done AOSB, Scary.

Anonymous said...

Do you really need an ASBO to become an officer?Act

Aquarians Love To Cuddle said...

".....took the selection exams, took the basic fitness test, was asked in no uncertain terms why I wasn't bloody well putting myself forward as officer material, and was offered a place in Her Majesty's Armed Forces......"

You mirror The Tutor's ill-advised youthful exuberance - only for him it was the Canadian Armed Forces. The Tutor did not have to subsequently cancel his application as did you. After receiving his offer of a place in the Canadian Armed Forces he said, "Great! When do I get my gun?"
The Welfare In Green folks rescinded their offer - right quick like.

Funny that.