`B` Company Christmas Party.

I’ve been mainly filling out forms of late for various things and running ideas through my head of things I would like to do not just for me but for other people. So many ideas, so many things I would like to do and achieve, and also so many ideas of what to do in the future. Where I want to be, what I want to be doing, thinking of what the future holds just so much going on in my head it is almost impossible to decipher in to any sense. Then an e mail as a reply to an application giving me something else to think about, I must make sure that is given priority although I know deep down that it will end up being another thing that will get swept up on the tornado of things going round and round waiting for me to grab one and deal with it. Then a letter, a letter that I have been waiting for from DVLA. DVLA is the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency, they are the people who I am waiting to receive my license from. As I am now a paraplegic I have to by law tell them so that they can add restrictions to my license, codes that will say what I have to have fitted to the vehicle to allow me to drive. They revoked my license a while ago, but I have been unable to get any explanation as to why. When I called them to try to find out I simply got told to re apply. This is something I love about our government departments, this is so brilliant I have to share it with you.

I sent my license to them with a form explaining I was now a paraplegic. They send me a medical questionnaire to fill out and send back to them which I did and then they send one for my Doctor. He fills it out and sends it back and then they revoked my license despite me being told I was fit to drive by my Doctor. No problem, I called them and they told me I had to reapply. This is why had simply had to share this with you, someone gets paid a high wage to come up with bright ideas like the next one. I asked the department if they could simply write to my Doctor but that would be far to easy and logical, after all, they are unable to even inform me as to why my license has been revoked and are unable to find out but aside from that, to take the most logical course of action would involve helping and not f******g anyone around! So, I go to the post office and get a license application form and send it to the DVLA. They then send me a medical questionnaire, the same questionnaire I had previously filled out and also one for the doctor, the same Doctor who filled out the same form previously with the same information. Then we send the forms back to the same department to be forwarded to the very same medical team to look at to decide if I can have my license back despite them being the very medical team that revoked it in the first sodding place. Which member of the bright ideas club came up with that? And to top it off, if it comes back as a No I can’t have my license back, they won’t even be able to tell me why.

Not being able to drive is one of the things that flies round in the tornado of thoughts in my head. I have tried to break it down as to the reason I would not be able to and I obviously start with the questions of the forms applicable to me. Have you ever had a serious head injury. Well, yes. Head colliding with car door resulting in shattered eye socket, cuts and damage to the brain sac which have since healed or been fixed. So this can’t be the problem and so we move to the next relevant question. Have you ever had problems with eyesight. Again, Yes. Diplopia (double vision). Accompanied to this question is asking about any corrective measures that can be used or are used. Eye patch or corrective glasses. Could this be it? Well an eye patch would effectively reduce me to one eye, but this can’t be it as my good friend who lost his eye in Afghanistan on our first tour and has a false eye is driving so this simply can not be the reason. Is it my paraplegia then? But hang on, the paraplegics I was in hospital with are driving, as is my good friend who is a tetraplegic so this can’t be the case surely and so I hope that you can see that whilst this may seem quite a trivial thing to some, for me the car is independence and not having any explanation as to why I can’t use something that is converted for me to drive is actually a really hard thing to not think about.

Dealing with all of the thoughts and questions whizzing round and round is a hard one, it’s not something I can really explain but I am not the only one who has it, I expect many of you do too and the best thing to do is to occupy your mind with other things like your job or a hobby and the same goes for the pain. Sounding like a moaning old b*****d aren’t I!

I attended our Company Christmas party on Saturday, the last EVER `B` Company Christmas party. The next Christmas party will be the First ever of 675 (The Rifles) Squadron Army Air Corps to which I hope I will be attending as a member. The party was not without surprises, good surprises. We had opened it up for any ex members of `B` Company through the years, from when it was `B` Company 6th Battalion The Light Infantry, then named `B` Company The Rifle Volunteers (which is when I joined) and obviously to `B` Company 6th Battalion The Rifles. And there were faces from all three. A guy who was in when I first joined who I hadn’t seen for many years was there and was one of the first people I saw on arriving at the party which was great. He is a paramedic now and I asked him about another ex member who is also a paramedic and he said that he sees him regularly as they are always at the same hospital. Incredible really. Then I was speaking to my OC, and we both spotted two real blasts from the past. The two permanent staff instructors who are regular Army that are attached to ensure the training is adhered to and is also realistic amongst a whole host of other tasks and jobs that were there when we first joined. They were both looking really well and seemingly had not changed much at all in the 11 or so years since I last saw them. And there were others too, it was so good to see them and to reminisce about the old times which generated some really good laughs.

The raffle had some really good prizes but alas none of them came home with my Wife and I, bugger and botheration but hey, you can’t win them all. “Me Val” came with my Wife and I to the party, there was no point in her driving and it would mean that she could have a bit of a drink if she wanted to. We sat on a table with others from our Company past one of which being “Bully”. You’ll remember I talked about him quite extensively last time and we had a fair bit to talk about this time too but I actually spent a vast amount of time talking to my last Serjeant Major, Kev. I forget about some of the things we spoke of but some of it I have thought of quite a bit, little bits in particular and I have been trying to think of the answers but the truth is I can not. Some of the things I think about for an answer could be misread as feeling sorry for yourself which really pisses me off as that is not the case and so for the most part of some conversations I don’t bother responding with an answer. One of the things he said to me I may have answered quite bluntly and may have sounded quite bolshy but I have gone past the making excuses for peoples actions or reactions and he did ask if I had thought that this could potentially alienate or push people away. Again though, I have other things to think about that to me weigh more heavily than worrying about upsetting people. I actually enjoy talking to Kev if I am honest. I do think that in some ways we are alike, other ways not so much but I have noticed that he digs. Quite funny really, almost like he thinks I’m a grenade waiting to go off! He spoke to me about many things, it was not far off an hour or possibly more that we were speaking which was nice actually as I don’t get to speak for long normally but all good things must come to an end and at around half past midnight, “Me Val”, my Wife and I left the ARC (Army Reserve Centre) and headed back to the bungalow where “Me Val’s” husband collected her and took her home.

I was so chuffed to have seen the people who I had shared some really good times with, and learnt so much from, their characters still very much the same as they were which was reassuring to know that what I had seen and experienced those years ago were the genuine article and not some show that was put on for the uniform. I was able to think while lying in bed waiting to fall asleep that night about the way things used to be. The things we had done on exercise and the laughs we had, the characters that were in the uniforms and the stupid and frankly immature things we had got up to on the training areas that simply will never happen again. They will not happen for me because I am obviously unable to go into the field on exercise any more but aside from that, won’t happen because those people who left can not be replaced. The characters are all different. When I first joined `B` Company The Rifle Volunteers, I was in the Yeovil Territorial Army Centre with such an amazing bunch of guys, guys who were up for a similar laugh and regularly did so. I recall tipping up on a Friday night and drawing weapons from the armoury, checking kit and jumping on the old Bedford 4 tonney. Being launched from one end of it to the other while the brakes warmed up and not requiring a cigarette for a good while as you had almost died from the white smoke that the Bedford traditionally threw out of the exhaust which would without fail fill the back of the Bedford where we all sat.

With the rain pissing in from the holes in the canvass and swirling in through the back you were ready for the “war” when you arrived at the training area because you had been camming up in the back of the transport on the way. You were ready for the 5 mile “Tab” from the Bedford to the harbour area because you were bloody freezing from the ride up and you were already in the mood because of the laughs you had on the way up. This was what made the weekends different to normal daily life, the bumping around, the getting soaked, the getting tired out and taking the piss out of each other with the inevitable pile on or play fighting in the back of the vehicle. All very professional obviously and unless you had been there and done it you will never be able to understand how it was. Then came the ruling from another bright ideas club that riding in the Bedfords was bad for you (no one worries for Christ knows how long but then along comes someone who wants to make a name for themselves and voila), and so the Bedfords would drive solo and we would go on heated comfortable buses. Before you know it you have no interest in the “war” because you have been sleeping all the way up. Suddenly the game had changed and you felt more like a molycoddled child than a reservist soldier but we played the game anyway. Most of the people who had been there when I joined disappeared when we went to Afghanistan and others went to Iraq. The reality of us being used was too much for some whilst others failed the medical when they were called for service resulting in them going but none of that mattered or indeed matters now. We had had some amazing laughs, immature or not, in the time we had all been together and when they closed our TAC at Yeovil it all changed again. Some were unable to commit to the travelling to Taunton due to transport or time constraints and so more left. Again, none of it matters as circumstances are different for all. That is why it was so nice to see a few of these people on Saturday night. I hope that I may be able to find them on the social network sites and to stay in touch but that will remain to be seen. Another problem is that my memory of the names is struggling, however I am sure that without too much trouble I would be able to track the names down.

The decorations are up outside the bungalow and the tree is up inside as I would expect are many of yours if you celebrate Christmas as not all religions do. If you do celebrate, then I hope that your home is as festive as you want it to be, but I am guessing it is those homes with children that are probably more ahead of the game. The sleeps till Santa song is on the alarm clock radio every morning which is “nice”, and the little board is changed daily by children on the countdown to Christmas so you can imagine how the excitement is building at my place and will simply continue to build, especially in `Pickle`, until the ultimate explosion where she can’t contain it any more on Christmas day.

Goodnight all.


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