Tag: Army

What I did on my holidays.

Hi all, not posted for ages as I didn’t have anything definite to say.

I was trying to get into the T.A., but had many doubts as to whether I’d make it. I have had encouraging noises from several driving agencies, but as is the law with agencies, nothing has come of it.

I’ve applied for Tesco’s as a warehouseman, just to escape the crapness of my current job, not heard from that either.

So nothing actually happening to blog about it.

Well, nothing changing. I was still being sent to the freezer to work in these conditions;

Thus engendering happiness of this order;

My Kung Fu has been progressing apace. I took my first assessment and passed it, though not with any elan. Not without a bit of commitment either, for that matter;

But as for any change for the better in my driving career, nada.

This weekend it all changed. I had my assessment for the T.A.

As I say I really doubted whether I could get in, right on the limit for age (too old in 27 days, that’s how on the limit I actually am!) medical record from last time I served stating ‘temperamentally unsuited for military service’ or words to that effect. No actual driving experience, being a codger therefore too old to meet the fitness requirements, etc.

I booked some holidays (hence the title of this entry) and trotted off.

Bloody hell! The first night there, me and about fifteen other lads (and they were lads, most teens and early twenties) in one room, bunk beds, army horse blankets. It was a total flashback to twenty years ago in basic training. I hated it then, and I was hating it from memory straight away.

To add to my misery we were all marched (I say ‘marched’, they weren’t allowed to march us anywhere, we were put into three ranks and ‘ambled’) to the NAAFI bar. I don’t drink any more, so that was a trial in itself.

Obviously I didn’t get much sleep, everyone tossing and turning, snoring, and all the kids getting texts and such on their mobiles in the middle of the night. Then, being newbies, they were getting up at 5.45, when we didn’t have to get up until 6.15.

Had about three hours kip.

Less than loving it on the Saturday then.

From 5.45 until end of last lesson at 8pm. Bollocksed.

Anyway, we did team building exercises and such and I was a lot happier by the end of the day, back in army mode.

We did lots of test, and I was the second highest (that I know of) scoring person. The highest scorer was an A&E doctor, so not too shabby from me.

It was all hanging on the 1½ mile run, which I had to complete in under 14 minutes. Not too harrowing. Just a matter of focusing your chi and putting one foot in front of the other. So I thought. The uncertainty lay in the fact that I’d used google maps and a bit of string to guesstimate my training distance.

Not the most accurate of methods. I’d done a dozen or so runs on grass (harder on the leg muscles, easier on the knees) and thought my time was about 13 or so minutes.

When we did the run it was on a tarmac road.

We went out in a gaggle, then he set us off. We weren’t allowed watches so I was looking for anyone who had been regularly achieving 12s. Nobody had.

Set off at my own pace and found, to my dismay, that I was in the front group of five lads. I kept with them for the first half mile, but was worrying about my stamina so I ignored them and set my own pace. I had an ex Gurkha Infantryman just behind me, so I thought if I keep in front of him I’ll easily pass.

I turned the last corner, onto a 200 yard straight, the first four had spread out and the lead guy had already finished, when some young lad came charging past me.

I considered giving chase, but apparently when you finish your basic you have to match or beat your initial time, so their was no incentive (other than competitive pride) to do so. So I came in 6th out of 20, with a time of 10m 41s! Or, to put it in perspective, better than 13 younger people (turns out the Ex Gurkha was 44) and better than I did in my basic training 20 years ago!

In passing got to mention the doctor. She was determined. Apparently she was a bit of a porker, the army said she had to lose weight before they’d even let her apply, so she’d lost five stones! On the run it was clear her fitness was no great shakes, but through sheer force of will she managed to get across the line in 13m 40s. She was absolutely twatted after it. She just collapsed. They  ordered her to stand up, and she tried, but she just couldn’t. I don’t think I ever seen such force of will!

In conclusion, by the end of the weekend I was had done enough to be eligible for any job in the Royal Logistics Corps. I stuck with ‘driver’, it’s what I need right now. It seems that it’s easy to transfer regiments when you are ‘in’.

I got sworn in on the Sunday and as well as my Oath Of Allegiance got this;

Oh yes! Who needs a hoody for street cred?

Suppose it will look more suitable when I get all my hair chopped off. *sighs*

Oh, final note, there was another Nepalese geezer there, son of (and uncle of, brother of, grandson of etc) a Gurkha, who was dying of throat infection and cold (still passed his run) and he gave me his lurgy. Dammit, never free from infection, me.

Slept like a brick last night, and apart from the shittiness of this new bug, am all refreshed and back to civvy mode.

Things are happening.

Buck.

PS, forgot to mention, there has been a total change of function of the T.A. since I was a regular. S.T.A.B.’s they used to be called (Stupid T.A. Bastards), probably still are. In those days though, you did T.A. at the weekends, and were never going to be mobilised except as a last resort. Now they train you and mobilise you when you are needed. They said they can’t force you to mobilise in the first three years of T.A. service, but that is your job. If you’re not willing to go to war you are in the wrong job, really. I would do a tour. Just one. Fair’s fair. I’m getting what I want out of it, it’s only fair I do the job for which I am being paid. Also the guy said all drivers get HazMat (hazardous materials) training which I would cost over £400 in civvy street, and for the learning of I will be paid! Bonus!

PPS, whilst I was away for the weekend I have been eating meat again! Not only because I have got back into the killing game, thereby abandoning all pretence of morals or ethics, but out of practical considerations. It has been my experience that in the army if you don’t eat what you are given, you don’t eat.

Bad Bucky.

Finally!

..You know I’ve been trying to get into the T.A. ? The Royal Logistics Corps, to be specific. To be more specific, re-enlist, was their term.

Anywho, been at that since near the end of last year.

I applied, they sent me a load of forms, I returned them, they had to dig up my previous army record and get a reference off my employer.

Then I heard nothing for about three months. I thought that they’d decided they’d had enough of me last time.

Out of the blue, I got a ‘phone call about two weeks ago from the T.A., they said they’d faxed a reference request through to my employer in January, heard nothing so tried again in February, still no reply. Could they have a personal reference?

I gave them my mate, Jo, as a referee, and went in to HR to raise merry hell. Their excuse was; as I wasn’t leaving the company they couldn’t give me a reference. Apparently they’d passed the request up and down the chain of command, and basically sat on it.

Bastards.

When I was first thinking this would probably be my best bet for kick starting my driving career one of the senior managers I approached about the company policy on the T.A., mentioned that if I get mobilised the government sends them a letter to force them to release me for the duration, and they have to keep paying me!

Hence their wilful delaying/ blocking tactics.

Bastards.

They T.A. immediately contacted Jo, who did me proud (I asked her to put ‘lover of women, slayer of men, driver of trucks’) and a week later I got another call saying all was well, they’d got my records back, come for a medical assessment on the 23rd of April!

Woo- hoo!

This could be just right. I don’t have to risk leaving a secure job, I get experience and possibly more training in a really professional environment, and they don’t quibble over you running the natives over!

Also, I get to screw my works over! Deep joy.

They asked if I felt confident about the fitness side of it, having to run a mile and a half in fourteen minutes, said ‘yeah, I keep fit with martial arts’.

Went out this morning for my first run in years. Previously when I’ve done stuff like that I’ve at least had a base of fitness and stamina from push-biking.

I worked out a course, approximately 1.8 miles long.

I have been working through a really nasty enervating cold as well, in my defence.

Anyway, I set off and within the first minute I thought I was going to have to give up and collapse gasping for breath.

I didn’t. I looked at the patch of dirt in front of me, tried to breathe and carried on.

It took me fourteen and a half minutes. So, by my (distance) calculations I’m within tolerance.

I staggered back to the car, lungs burning, spit in strings, feeling sick as a dog. It took me a good five minutes of coughing and spitting before I was well enough to drive home.

I did it though. If I do it every day until the assessment I should be able to do it without them following me around the course with  paramedics and an oxygen tent.

In other news, that wobbly front tooth forced me to rejoin the dentists. I went today.

I lay there with my eyes shut, trying to find my happy place whilst doing deep breathing and other Jedi mind tricks.

I was a tad miffed anyway, even excepting the terror. It had a price chart in the reception area, check up £16.50, root canal £46, cap £198! Damn the getting my front teeth shot and nutted out!

The dentist did a check, said my teeth were fine, wiggled my cap off, glued it and stuck it back in there and then, That’ll be £16.50, please!

Big yay!

Other super-duper news is that yesterday at my sax lesson, sax-sensei Pete showed me the fingerings for the last few notes. I now have the set! From F#, which is somewhere in the dog-whistle range, through to low C#, the sound of earthquakes.

Now it’s simply a matter of practising until I can use them!

To round it all off, I’ve got four days off work, and the garden is coming to life in the sudden promise of Spring. All is peachy.

Well, apart from with Wendy who is not entering into the adventurous spirit of armed high-jinks.

Women, eh? 😉

I will be driving a truck. Worst case, I’ll be away for six months. In all likelihood I’ll be back in one piece, duty done, experience gained.

A year from now the world will be our oyster.

Later,

Buck.

Help for heroes?

Right! The time has come, I need to speak out.

First and foremost, let me say that in my experience being a soldier is a shit job, done extremely well under even the most trying of conditions. The lads and lasses put their lives on the line and do their duty.

I’m not about to knock that.

I will start by saying; that is their job, for which they volunteered. Nobody made them enlist.

The thing that distinguishes the armed services from any civvy job is that it is in your job description that you will die if so ordered. Tell a copper or fireman to stand firm in the face of certain death and he has the option to quit. It is a soldiers job to die if necessary.

They are doing their job, come death or mutilation. That is not heroic, it is for that they are paid.

But they are being brave, that makes them heroes!

I would argue that the modus operandi of the army is to make you more afraid of your Sergeant than you are of the enemy. You are bullied into being a mindless drone, afraid to not obey an order.

In the first world war the Royal Military Police were positioned in the trenches to shoot any man who didn’t go over the top.

In the second world war they had conscription with jail and dishonour for anyone who wouldn’t go. I know from personal experience that even the most jaundiced of cynics would prefer the possibility of death than the certainty of a lifetime of shame with the stigma of cowardice.

It was proven at the Nuremberg Trials that following orders is not an excuse for committing war crimes. Yet we have recently gone in to illegal wars. Every soldier should have refused. They did not. Nor were they ever likely to.

My point is; bravery takes many forms. Killing Johnny Foreigner for his oil may well be the least brave option once you’ve taken the Queen’s Shilling.

Then there is a technical point; a hero is someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Who does something without thought for personal danger, to serve his unit, and somewhat nebulously, his country.

To call everyone in uniform a hero is to devalue the word and dishonour those who have earned the epithet. Clarkson did a piece on some chap who kept going back into battle though they tried to cas-evac him on several occasions, firing a mortar like a bazooka, bleeding from his ears, shot to shit and still fighting. That is a hero. Some desk jockey who happens to wear a uniform is not.

Then there is the actual campaign, ‘Help For Heroes’. Started by the Sun. The mouthpiece of the evil Murdock. Why did they start it? To whip up patriotism and support for our boys and to stifle questioning dissent amongst the ‘screw oil concerns, let’s keep our boy’s alive’ lobby.

The aim is to have us all saluting the flag, supporting illegal wars, and frightened to say ‘bring the boys back home’ as that would mean we were unpatriotic. Is it braver to follow this route or stand for your principles?

Of course I’m a stinking hypocrite. I am actually trying to get back into the army!

What was that Latin phrase?  ‘I see and approve of the best path, I follow the worst’

I want to get back in to get my truck driving experience so I can get a civvy job. My principles are as ephemeral as that. It doesn’t mean I can’t see the truth of the situation.

Which brings me full circle to my my point. I am willing to serve, again. I know and accept the risks. If I can get back in I will most probably be getting my experience in Afghanistan. Would that make me a hero? No. It would make me a chap doing his job.

To quote the philosopher Gump; “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Buck.