Over the past month or so I have taken the decision and put into force the motions for my joining the Army. I've always wanted to join up and in 2009, I nearly did, falling short when I received the news that I was going to become a father. At the time I couldn't, in good conscience just fuck off and leave the mother to go through it without my support; or even risk missing some of the most important parts of a child's life; so I stayed and decided that maybe in the future I would try again.
Since the start of the year the idea of giving it a second chance has been bouncing around my head and I just put it down as a pipe dream and tried not to think about it too much, but then I got in one day and turned on the telly to the last 15minutes of a documentary that Jeremy Kyle was doing called Jeremy Kyle's: Military Driving School. It seriously put a strong, and sweet, taste in my mouth that made me decide that the Army is what I wanted.
The next day I had free I found myself sitting in the Armed Forces Careers Office in Newcastle, sat in the exact same spot as I had 2 years previous twisting my thumbs, looking around at the separate forces' desks, reading the posters and watching the same montage of clips repeat themselves over and over on the plasma in the corner of the room whilst I waited for my turn with the Army cadre. There was a surprising amount of other applicants in with me that day too, mostly young lasses; a couple had even brought their toddlers with them. I wasn't quite sure what their stories were, and I did my best not to find out. I was there for me, and for me only.
When the Staff Sergeant on duty that day finally got round to seeing me he asked me what the score was and I replied along the lines of, "well, I kind of want to join the Army...sir." Probably not the best work of articulation that's left my mouth, and he obviously thought the same with the retort of, "you wouldn't be sitting here if you didn't".
I explained to him that I wanted to join the RLC (Royal Logistics Corps) as a Driver and that I had applied a couple of years ago but decided not todue to the issues already explained above. From this he found me on the system and told me that I hadn't explained this to them at the time and they just assumed I had chickened out (which is understandable, there was a lot going on at that point in my life - perhaps notifying the Army that I wasn't joining after all may have slipped my mind). I apologised and explained that I thought I had and tried to make it look like I wasn't some silly boy who couldn't make up his mind.
The SSG told me that as a result of my past application and the current state of affairs within the Armed Forces that if I flunked this time around, unless it was for a 'fucking good reason', that would be it and I would be kicked out the door if I tried to apply again in the future. I told him that I understood and gathered up the application forms that he issued me with and left.
Filling out the forms didn't take too long, and the next opportunity I got, I returned them back the the Recruitment Office, where I found the same SSG that dealt with my application originally in 2009 - thankfully he didn't remember me, and didn't hold it against me that I'd dropped out before as much as the first SSG did. He told me that I was too smart to be a driver and should seriously consider doing something else. Copies of my ID and qualifications were taken and we had a little chat about how my father was once a signaller (which was what he was). He queried as to why I didn't want to follow in Dad's footsteps to which I replied that it just didn't sound very interesting (I think this offended him a little). Either way, he gave me a date to return to do my BARB test (British Army Recruitment Battery), shook my hand and sent me on my way.
The BARB test is a 30 minute basic aptitude test that generates a result from the answers provided to questions relating to basic logic. Said questions include: "If this shape looks like this now, what would it look like when flipped 90°?" Easy? You would think so, and so would I, but I somehow managed to fuck it up big time and came out with a result around 20 points lower than I had got in 2009. Thankfully it meant that I could still be a driver; but my personal pride did take a little bit of a dent. After this I had another word with my SSG about my options and with a firm handshake, yet more paperwork (this time medical) to fill in, a list of Army Jobs I am eligible for (mostly infantry) sent me on my way to chew over my list of choices.
Since then, I have decided on my job role that I would like to do (Driver/Communications Specialist) and as of earlier today, got my medical paperwork sorted out with my new doctor. Apparently my normal doctor retired in November and I didn't even realise - shows how often I go to see him. Anyway, my new doctor (whom has an equally Indian name) seemed very nice and eager to see my ambition to join up successful and promised to get the forms filled out and sent away as soon as he could.
Another thing I have been doing since the BARB test is a fitness work. I've researched the selection requirements for the RLC selection and found out that I have to be able to run 1.5miles in a maximum of 13 minutes 15 seconds. It may sound difficult, but believe me, 1.5 miles really isn't all that great a distance, and my times for it have steadily been getting better and better up until the focal point last night when I managed it in a time of 13.05. Which is my best time by far. I am going to keep training and aim for around 10minutes at least to ensure that I'm not passing by the skin of my teeth when it comes to doing it for real - and plus it's handy to have that extra piece of stamina available if and when I need it. I've also been doing a lot of cycling to raise my stamina levels and been getting the sit up and press up tally steadily counting upward.
That is it so far, and I'm just waiting to hear back from my SSG when he receives my medical paperwork from my doc. When that happens I'll be booked onto a pre ADSC course (basically a selection, selection course) where my fitness will be tested for a day to ensure that I am physically git enough to even join the Army.
I know this has been a long one, but bear with me for just a couple more paragraphs, please!
This is like a dream for me, and although I am seriously excited to finally be doing this and having all these events set into motion, I am also still ridiculously nervous. I'm worried about how much I'll miss my 2 year old son, and my family and friends. I'm worried about how much I'll miss my current job; as much as I hate the job itself, the people make it so much worth while.
But I know that on this path I'm taking, I'll make new friends, and I'll still be able to see my son, and I'll still be able to keep in contact with the friends I leave behind - and with all the money I'll be earning, I'll be able to spoil the sprog rotten and party 'til the cows come home when I'm on leave.
Until the next development, or event that causes me to have the urge to write satirically about...