Formal Education: So, I am really not stupid…?
As I am writing this among other things my second book is going to print, not bad seeing I left school at 15 years old. I went to infant, primary and secondary Schools in Falmouth, Cornwall. I hated school and looking back I don’t know what the hell I did there, it was a waste of time. I avoided going to school as much as I could and I left as soon as possible with some qualifications that I have no record of. I was never a good student and was classed as one of the dumb ones!!
After I left school I moved away from home to work on commercial fishing boats in North Devon and applied to join the Army. I first went to the Royal Marines office in Plymouth who told me to come back when I was 17 years old. When I went to the Army Recruiters in Barnstable the same day they started the recruiting process straight away.
The Recruiting Sargent was from one of the Guards Regiments and after the initial aptitude tests asked what I wanted to do within the Army. I told him I wanted to join the Infantry and he told me I was stupid… This I knew… Apparently I had gotten the highest grade on the tests and could at that stage choose whichever branch of service I wanted. I said I wanted to stay with my choice of the infantry and the Recruiting Sargent gave me advice that would turn out to be exactly on point! He told me that I would quickly get bored in an infantry regiment and would not be happy. Again he asked what I wanted, I said Infantry and he said stupid!
After completing basic training at Depot Litchfield I joined my Battalion (1 WFR) in Omagh, Northern Ireland. First arriving at an Infantry Battalion is intimidating, being a new boy everyone wants to fuck with you, you are the lowest of the low! I was charged within 3-day of arriving by some fat REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker) of a store man for disobeying an order, I wiped up a tea stain at a guard post with a dry rag when he told me to use a wet one. The funny thing was years later with RECCE Platoon in Cyprus we use to have to push and drag these fat useless cunts around the Combat Fitness Tests; they were our best friend then!!
Anyway, in the first few days of my arrival I received a notice to go to Battalion Headquarters (BHQ) and report to the Sargent Major who was the chief clerk. I was thinking WTF have I done now… As a new boy BHQ was not the place to go near, too many opportunities to be fucked with!! So, I checked my dress, marched Depot style to BHQ and reported the Sargent Major. He asked me if I wanted to go on a clerks course, he saw my aptitude test grades. This would have meant a few week course back in England with leave. This for many would be a golden opportunity they would have done unspeakable acts for. I know someone who got circumcised to get two weeks leave, but that’s another story. I told the Sargent Major I was not interested, he asked if all I wanted to be was an infantryman, I said yes. He told I was stupid and to fuck off.
So, if the British Army had worked out in a few months that I was suited for more than just being a grunt then why had my school teachers failed so badly? Well, the British Army has hundreds of years’ experience of dealing with misguided, angry young men and to some extent is interested in using them for the best interests of the Army. I think back to my teachers at Falmouth School and really they were a very unmotivated and depressing cluster. But I would be if my career had lead me to be teacher at a 3rd rate school in the asshole of England. I admit I was not a good student but the formal education system and it teachers had failed to motivate and interest me, which are the basics for teaching people. I know this as I run training courses for a living internationally. I see a great need for people to have a good education but its scary from my experience that those doing the teaching are limited to one dimensional teaching for one dimensional people. Just my opinion!
All considered I must thank the British Army for teaching me lessons, many of which I would not fully understand until years later. Being cleaver is one thing but being wise is another!!
Orlando Wilson – Risks Incorporated – www.risks-incorporated.com
“Stay low and keep moving”
- British Army Service: A Misspent Youth Or Was it!!
- British Army Service: Northern Ireland 1989/91
- Photos: B-Coy & Recce Plt, 1-WFR 1988/93