It's exam time again and students at schools and universities up and down the country are doing their best not to go into exam meltdown but to hold it together and get themselves through to the holidays and their bright futures that lie ahead. I couldn't wait to leave school. I finished one week and the next I started recruit training at the Scottish Infantry Depot at Glencorse in Midlothian. It was the Army or Royal Marines for me and given the Army course started sooner the decision was made. My plan to go through recruit training and then have a bash at the Regular Commissions Board at Westbury seemed a good idea right up to the point that I walked through the gates at Glencorse where I was jettisoned into a world closer to 1958 than 1978. While not easy it was obviously doable if uncompromising. It was though good experience and stood me in good stead later in my Army time, not least at Sandhurst.
The first two minutes of the clip above, of a pass out parade at Glencorse in 1984, which I saw on the Queens Own Highlander page on FB, hurtled me back to that time. Young, fit, proud and ready to take the world on it was the best of days. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, quite comes close to the sensory overload you feel when marching with your fellow Jocks to the Pipes & Drums and I would give anything to go back to that time.
Uniquely, having passed out as a Queens Own Highlander, (well on paper anyway having missed the actual final parade for reasons explained here!), and which I remained for the next 3 years, because I was a potential officer I never served with them. I was sent off to the Royal Highland Fusiliers and Gordons until I eventually scrapped my way into Sandhurst and from there I was again surprised to be commissioned into the Gunners. The Army likes to surprise. Wouldn't have missed any of it it for the world though.