Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

A Brush With The Army

Joe and I go to the Fulwood army barracks in Preston so he can collect his sick pay.

The army is a big, cumbersome bureaucracy- a bureaucracy plus organised violence.

Julie is our contact person. I guess she's in her upper 20s. She wears her blonde hair in a pony tail. I ask her if she's army. "No, I couldn't stand it. I'm too insubordinate," she says. "I'm a civilian. I can clock off at six and go get drunk."

I like Julie. She's not like the squaddies we run into. She makes eye contact and doesn't act like she expects someone to jump all over her at any second.

We were told to turn up before 10.00, but the Sergeant Major who doles out the sick pay isn't ready for us. He has to make a trip to the bank to collect funds.

Like I said- a bureacracy. "If I had to work in this system," I tell Joe, "I'd cut myself every bit of slack I could get away with."

I'm reminded of boarding school. It's partly the nineteenth century architecture and the way it's built around big squares. But it's also the atmosphere. Boredom, anxiety, bolshiness.

The Sergeant Major comes back from the bank. He speaks so soft and Scottish I can barely hear him. He too avoids eye contact. He opens a big brown envelope and deals out the twenties one by one.
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