My First Childhood Memory

So, flicking through The Writer’s Block this afternoon while sitting in Oxford Central Library, I found this topic.

My first childhood memory was sitting in the back of a British Army Commer minibus  (looking a bit like this) in about 1972 or 1973 in Tidworth, a garrison town in Hampshire, singing football song, Nice One Cyril, together with my classmates on the way to/from kindergarten, run by the wife of one of the regiment’s SSM’s.  (Vocabulary point for all you bl00dy civvies and bl00dy foreigners: SSM – Squadron Sergeant Major (also known asSquadron Scary Monster).

Imagine the scene at the Army recruiting office:

Recruiting sergeant:

Why do you want to join the Army, son?

Potential recruit:

I want to to see the world, meet lots of interesting people… and then kill them.

Lo and behold, after basic training and trade training, here’s Trooper Smiff, driving a bunch of pads brats, barely out of nappies, round in a green minibus.  (When Tpr Smiff is down the local nightclub, he’ll be telling them that he was a member of a crack SAS team that did undercover work in Belfast.)  Still, listening to a bunch of four-year-olds singing Nice One Cyril beats the hostile streets of Stroke City (Derry/Londonderry), driving My Saracen through Your Garden Last Night.

Later as part of his career in the defence of the Realm, he’ll be on guard duty in Wolfenbüttel Northampton Barracks cinema, keeping those fire exits, while humming along with the kids’ songs during the Saturday morning matinee.

Have a nice day (Cyril), won’t you!


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