The lone piper

A lone piper was playing at the station this evening, on my way home. I find bagpipe music haunting. I’m guessing it’s in connection with Remembrance Sunday which is imminent. We wear poppies to remember those who fell in the two Great Wars and all other conflict.

I never hid my desire to join the armed forces when I was younger. But back then – unlike now – homosexuality was banned in the armed services. You’d get thrown out. So I ultimately thought better of it.

I guess I’d had the kind of upbringing (strict, formal, protestant, provincial, English) that predisposed me to want to serve.

These days I love military fly-on-the-wall docs. I also read militaria. Not what you expect from someone who is, technically, as queer as a $3 bill, eh? Hah! I guess that shows that generalisations are unreliable at the best of times. But I’ve never defined myself by my sexuality.

Mine wasn’t just an old-fashioned schooling. It was the type of schooling. Sent away aged 11 with a big metal trunk. To a boarding school. Living with other boys 24/7. Highs and lows (and these were in equal measure). Discipline. Routine. Hierarchy. Pride. Camaraderie. I got used to it; I grew to like it, even. These were the formative years of my life.

You can’t change your past and you don’t choose your upbringing – but ultimately they do define you.

I wanted to fly Chinooks

When I was a kid I wanted to join the RAF.

I have always loved that big bird – the Chinook helicopter – and really wanted to be a pilot. Instead, I ended up in a regular office job.

RAF Chinooks on deployment in Afghanistan:

chinook helicopter 04

chinook helicopter 03

chinook helicopter 02

chinook helicopter 01

chinook helicopter 05

I’ve been watching the documentary series Air Force Afghanistan on Five which I quite like (though The Guardian is quite condescending), set at Kandahar airbase. It’s a  follow on from Warzone which was on earlier in the year. I like these kinds of documentaries set on warships, airbases, etc; always have.

Photos of Chinooks in Afghanistan, serving in the RAF in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (2009).

RAF photo gallery of Chinooks.