I suck at bonding with people. I like most people quickly and I enjoy meeting new ones. This is maybe because I like new ideas, new stories and new perspectives, or maybe because for a while I can boast new friends……… if a friend is defined as someone who doesn’t know me well enough to find me shallow, a little crude and have so many high-horses, it’s like being at a rodeo in a meth lab. Also, I have about three stories, which are hilarious the first time a person hears them but are really friggin' dull after the gadzillienth. Just ask the wife.
This reluctance to bond may also be because I moved around a lot as a kid. My father was either in a very volatile hotel business, or on the run; I could never really tell. I am sure the rain mac, big hat, and big false ginger beard he wore whenever he went out was just a fashion statement.
So, after 13 different houses and 5 different schools, perhaps I just couldn’t be arsed making the effort to bond anymore. I bounced around between the Midlands, the South West, the South East, the Herefordshire side of Welsh border, the North East, The Midlands and The Borders in Scotland. Invariably the first few months were spent getting used to a new endearing nickname; ‘Soft Southern Wanker’ (in a school in a pit district of the NE of England during the miners’ strike), a ‘Northern Monkey’, an ‘English Bastard’ (from a fanatical SNP supporting history teacher in Scotland) and a ‘country bumkin’. Though the last I rather liked, this ‘lifestyle’ became rather tiresome after a while.
However, after bouncing around for the formative part of my life, I decided to keep the trend going and joined the army at 22, went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and found things were rather different there. Whilst I was probably surrounded by Soft Southern Wankers, Northern Monkeys, English Bastards, (some Scots ones) and country bumkins, I couldn’t tell as nearly all of my fellow Officer Cadets had been to good private schools and it seems that after such an education, everybody speaks with the same accent.
It was a demanding environment to be in and quickly you realise that the accent is less important than the ability to handle a tough situation, to stick by each other when life was shit, and to maintain a sense of humour when funny stuff is as scares as humbleness at a Donald Trump house party. Perhaps for the first time in years, after going through this shit stuff, I bonded with the people that went through it with me. This happened first at Sandhurst, then over the next 16 years serving in The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in various parts of the world I got to spend time in, some of which were great (Germany, Canada, Gibraltar, Whitehall and Warminster, for example), some not so great (Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Swindon for example). Some of the relationships I formed at this time remain the strongest I have........... and as one of the relationships I formed was with my wife, Jodie, I guess this is an important statement.....!
Beers after a difficult operation in Zvecan, Kosovo, Aug 2000