I remember looking through the window, trying to work out what job I
could do to earn a similar amount of money I was on, when a soldier
came to the door in camouflage garb and invited me inside the shop.
was outside the army and navy shop, just off Trafalgar Square, and I
was killing time after having arrived for work in Endell Street a
couple of hours early. It was in summer in the year 2000. Vince the
admin guy working in the hostel had suggested I take a walk and attempt
to kill time before my 10 hour shift. It was during the impromptu
meander that I found myself looking at ads in the window of the
The guy was nice enough and after
sitting behind his desk he asked me for some basic details. He finally
asked me to explain what had motivated me to look to the army for
career options. I recall laughing and explaining to him that my shift
was to start at 3pm and that I had arrived at work early – that was the
limit of my motivation!
The poor recruitment officer
filled in the forms and finally after finishing the cup of tea and
biscuits I had been given, I signed the completed paper on the dotted
line, confirming that the information contained was accurate.
I left the shop to start my work that day and thought no more about it.
few weeks later I received a letter confirming with me that my
application for the army had failed. My medical records had been
checked and due to my having suffered from 'atopic eczema' on my finger
when aged 8 years old, the army just could not take the chance.
empathized with the recruitment officers since to the best of my
recollection the affliction had mainly lingered on my right hand
Although not a serious career option,
I was a little sorry to hear that I had been rejected as a grunt.
Notwithstanding that, I have kept the letter of rejection safe, for
what it is worth.
Note: I would like to stress that
although I treated the whole 'near miss' of being part of the services
with a certain degree of ambivalence, I do have an enormous amount of
respect for people who commit to a service as a career and, in
particular, respect for those people who sacrifice themselves in the
defense of their country.