In 1988 I, Richard Roots, accidentally collided with the British Army. There were triumphs, and there were tears. There was even some mud involved. This is the story of the seven most scary - yet exciting - weeks (yes, weeks) of my life. More
Know this: I never wanted to be a soldier! People in uniforms scared me. My brothers - who were a lot older than me - scared me and they were all in the Army Cadets. I was happiest with my nose in a book, because you know where you are when someone else is describing their adventures on an Alien Planet.
And yet in 1988 I, Richard Roots, accidentally collided with the British Army. There were triumphs, and there were tears. There was even some mud involved!
Here is a truth: I was not a brilliant soldier - I was not as good as I now think I was.
But I was, according to Major M in his final interview with me, second in the Troop rankings at the time of my departure, and he was sweet enough to write 'Exemplary' on my Discharge certificate. So I wasn't a bad soldier either.
Another truth: I served for 57 days, 50 of them in basic training. Mine was not a long military career.
As - 30 years later - I look back on my Army career, I can't help but believe it was an adventure that was destined to happen to me. A second puberty, if you like. I can come up with no other explanation for why I did what I did. And why I abandoned it all so quickly.