Tuesday, September 12, 2006


From Emily, one of this blog's readers...

''It was this carefree existence of student life, before the realities of responsibilities, finding a job and paying tax, that I wanted my sister to experience. It was the main reason why I didn’t want her to join the army at 16. I wanted her to experience the selfishness of student life. What it feels like to study purely want you want to for a number of years while soaking your brain in liberal amounts of vodka. I feared that army life would take away her freedom.
When she joined the army I thought how wrong I was. As she passed each stage with merit and gained the respect of hardened macho men who had formerly believed women had no place in the armed forces until they met her, I began to change my mind. But this was pre-Iraq. Any service that can send a newbie into the toughest line of work within two weeks of qualifying, is the hardest of task masters.

Nineteen was the average age of soldiers fighting Vietnam. My sister is now at that age. At 19 my sister is handling medical conditions that her peers suffered in WW1. Working for the RMP, she scraps Iraqis off lampposts after jaw-dropping road traffic accidents and she goes into the middle of the desert in shit snatch landrovers and patrols with a thermal imaging camera but totally vulnerable to a mortar attack. She pays tax on her wages despite facing enormous risks everyday and living for 7 months and two weeks out of the UK. She deals with the fear that is deployment to the hell of hells…Afghanistan. She learns to deal with people from her barracks dying and her boyfriend blown up. Will she be the same 19 year old that got on the plane to Iraq? Will she have the same rose-tinted outlook about army life? I doubt it. She said to me once that when things were bad they used to play the game “I’d rather be here than…” until, when the shit truly hit the fan, they realised that there couldn’t think of many worse places to be anymore. She said this made them laugh because if you didn’t laugh you’d cry your bloody eyes out...''


Thanks to Emily,who emailed tonight, for sharing her story and this powerful post. I look forward to reading more of your blog which you have introduced me to.

And thanks too to Joty, who is thinking of trying blogging, and to Alan, for telling me that he heard me on the radio on late on Monday night, and who told me about the children he teaches in the Scottish Highlands, and Nora, who wanted to share her thoughts on 9/11, and to Frederic, who has peace demonstration information to share, to Stephen, who also loves Latin poetry, and to Robin, who makes US public radio programmes, Natalie, and Phillip, who offered support and wise advice, Morten from Norway, Amy, currently in Uganda, Maria from Oregon, Ralph, who thought he'd lost a passport, but found it, phew, Yuwei Zhang from Shanghai TV, Maria, Graham, Edd, Maureen, Hugh, The Birdman33, health-psych, Sitara from North London, who has just found out about and joined KCU via this blog, and all of the new readers and visitors who have been in contact via comments and email this week or so, telling me you like this blog, telling me a little of yourselves and your lives - Thank you, all of you, very much.

Light shine on you all and keep you safe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me from Oregon again. My 21 year old son really hates his job, and he has a friend in the military who's been telling him how great it would be if he (my son Dan) joined up and they got stationed together! This TOTALLY freaked me out, but I tried to sound calm, and said, "Working at the mill has GOT to be better then being in Iraq. The weather conditions might not be much different, but at least you're not being shot at." He just kinda laughed, and then he told me about some guy at the mill whose work glove got caught in a machine, and his hand was pulp. What can a mother do? I hope he doesn't join up. Not now anyway. When he was in High School and was thinking about the army, my Dad swelled with pride and said, "Or even better, the Air Force." (My Dad was in the Air Force.) But it's a different world now. Even my Dad agrees. He even went as far as saying that if there was a draft, he'd kidnap Dan and take him to Canada!

September 13, 2006 1:07 am  
Blogger Style Police said...

It's terrifying isn't it? With 3 family members currently in Iraq I have stopped watching the news.

On a totally different note - were you involved in Sunday's world record pole dance event?

September 13, 2006 11:01 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

I wasn't, but my ex-teacher was one of the judges!
I'm getting the DVD sent over to marvel at.Those girls are athletes.

September 13, 2006 11:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not related to this particular post, but I just wanted to share this. PTSD never totally goes away. It's like it becomes part of your DNA, it's encoded as a tool for survival. My Dad was 7 years old when WWII ended. He and his family were bombed out of 3 homes by the Germans. He STILL gets a surge of adrenaline when a plane flies over really low, (which is often, since Medford has a small but International airport). Have you seen "The Land Girls"? There's a scene where the girls go out to a field at night, and the sky is all orange on the horizon. One says to the other, "What's that?" and the other says, "It's Bristol." I shiver, becasue that's where my Dad was. My grandmother lost an eye at that time. I never paid much attention to Nanna's "funny eye" until my Dad told me how it got like that. He's in his late 60's now, and still doesn't like low flying planes or loud bangs. But his reactions are like lightning!

September 13, 2006 6:36 pm  
Blogger Ian said...

Hi again, I will only comment generally to say that there is a real groundswell now with alternative journalism. The link you posted was absolutely priceless! Then there are the (some) comments in CiF for example which show that a lot of the UK is out of sync with the professional commentators who seem to exist in a bubble isolated from reality. Of course this aplies doubly to politicians and we are glad that you can give us an insight to how they look close up.

Enough for now, but I will keep reading for sure.

Kepp it coming.

September 13, 2006 7:47 pm  

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