Pass Or Fail

When the teams had finished, they were speed marched back to the barracks and everyone was ordered into ranks as the Corporals and Sergeant gathered around to collate their marks. After all the effort, this was it. The Sergeant walked purposefully to the front and cleared his throat. He explained there were three grades. Elite pass, marginal pass and fail. Without messing about, he read the name of each recruit out and their grade. Steve closed his eyes and breathed evenly. It had all come down to this.

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Final Tests

After lunch, the recruits were led to an assault course made from scaffolding and planks of wood. It was an aerial confidence course between three and fifteen metres high designed to test the recruits’ suitability for military parachuting. Steve climbed a metal ladder about ten metres high to a platform. Up there, he ran along planks, jumped between gaps and then ran over horizontal ladders. He had to swing across ropes and leap off ramps above the trees without anything to break a fall. Several recruits failed this event and were removed from the course. One unfortunate recruit fell from height and was taken away in an ambulance. The recruits never saw him again. At the end, Steve lined up with the men who passed.

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Stretcher Race

In the morning, Steve’s legs had stiffened and he hobbled over for breakfast. After stretching to loosen off, he lined up for the next event. He was looking forward to the assault course. Standing next to another recruit, a sergeant shouted “Go!!!”. Steve sprinted to the vertical netting and raced up and over the other side. In between each short run was an obstacle, from climbing ropes, to brick walls and wooden beams. He reached the end gasping for breath and was sure he finished in a good time.

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Battle March

After the event, the recruits went to the mess hall and lined up for food. With a plate in front, Steve sat down and could feel swelling over his left eye. He felt sick, but it was important to eat because the next event was after lunch. After only a few minutes, Corporals entered the hall and shouted to get outside. The recruits ran to the parade square and lined up. The test in the afternoon would be a ten mile battle march in full gear. With orders to get ready, they ran back to the barracks. Sitting on his iron bed, Steve packed kit into his webbing belt and an assault pack. Pulling the straps over his shoulders, he clipped the belt together and put the assault pack onto his back. He grabbed his rifle and helmet, then doubled to the parade square. The kit was heavy and the battle march had to be completed within one hour and fifty minutes for a recruit to pass. Failing this event would mean an automatic fail for the whole course. This was the big one.

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Steve stayed awake late into the night. Others around him were asleep in the barracks, but he was deep in thought. The final tests to become a soldier in the regiment would begin in the morning. He was serious, knowing these physical and mental tests were designed to weed out the weak. Steve was quite skinny when he began the training but now he was fit and strong. His confidence was growing, but he wanted to focus on each test in turn. After a fitful sleep, he got up while it was still dark and readied himself. Nerves kicked in.

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Raw Recruit

Initial processing involved Steve dropping his bag off in a billet and being issued with a uniform. He was given black boots, green trousers, a sweater with patches on the elbows and shoulders, T-shirts and a combat jacket. In between initial training runs, they were shown how to wear the uniform properly, polish boots, wash clothes, shave and personal hygiene. The training staff wore their smart maroon berets while the recruits wore camouflage caps. There were lectures on rifles and the recruits were told the training would focus on physical fitness. The recruits’ ability to operate outside their comfort zone would be tested during P Company. The few recruits who passed would then serve in the regiment.

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Recruitment Office

After the exam results, Steve Nobody was in a dilemma. He had the grades to go to University, but needed a break from education. His parents insisted he should immediately go to University. A quick decision had to be made. Steve caught a bus to a nearby town and wandered the streets. His stomach rumbled, but he did not have enough money to buy food. He thought about accepting a University place. It felt wrong, but he could not think of anything else to do.

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Starting Out

And so, together, they became the Gronk-LaTwonks. In their minds, it was a wonderfully well-to-do last name for when they had children! They looked at one another with glowing satisfaction. This would be the beginning of something fantastic. Gronk was still desperate to become a Poshey, while Munter was doing her best to be accepted as a Gossip. They were going to rise the ranks of the Snook. Influence and respect would be theirs at last. They would be THE people to look up to. 

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Over the next few months, Gronk and Munterla met up often and soon became inseparable. Before the year was out, Gronk proposed and they were soon married. After a rainy honeymoon in a dreary English seaside town, the couple moved in together. They could just afford to rent a flat above a shop on the High Street. It was a central location in the Snook and close to the bars and restaurants. On the first night in their new home, they discussed a new surname, now they were man and wife.

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The Office

A few days later, Gronk received the tremendous news he had landed the job. One application, one interview and one job offer. He was back on track and moving toward an inevitable magnificent future. The salary was lower than he expected, but he thought even great men had to begin somewhere. On his first day, he turned up to the office and met the others. They all seemed a bit dull to Gronk, although he knew Groate well and waved at his old friend. But the office day-to-day was a shock. The routine was always the same. He spent most of his time on the computer completing spreadsheets, which he found ridiculous as he assumed he would actually be using a pencil. He was a Trainee Pencil Pusher after all. Sometimes he was allowed out to inspect the local land his firm had purchased. He liked these trips with a clipboard and actual pencil, but always ended up back in the office writing reports and completing charts. It was a mundane existence where the days seemed to merge together. The tedious office was a disappointment from his heady days at Sixth Form College. But this was adult life now so he would just have to get on with it.

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