Army training ruined weekly drinking sessions

THINGS are going south in the Middle East again, so we're off on another mission/operation/quest or whatever it is they're calling war nowadays.

In spite of a very short and unremarkable career in the army reserves (much to the horror of my navy father and air force grandfather), I did learn several very important lessons:

  1. Army booze is tax-free.
  2. Don't shoot an SLR left-handed (the hot shell casings will hit your right arm).
  3. You can't bomb your way to victory - sooner or later you'll need boots on the ground.
  4. How to peel a potato the army way.

As this was during the 1980s when our only worry was total nuclear annihilation, I was having the time of my young life going to parade every Tuesday night, then getting stone motherless drunk for the price of a packet of chips.

Eventually some clown decided that our little social group needed proper army training, so we were loaded into a truck, which took several spine-crushing hours getting to a base that was an only an hour away by car.

There, after weeks of gruelling exercises, drills and marching, we finally saw action - when we started an all-in brawl during our first pub outing.

Afterwards, our heavily battered squad was rounded up and marched off for spud duty in the field kitchen.

Oddly enough, as we peeled our way through several million potatoes, we developed close friendships, and some pretty big calluses.

Ironically, that was how the army taught me the fifth and most important lesson: Settle your differences without resorting to violence, or things will quickly turn to mush.

Perhaps the politicians who are so keen to rush us into conflicts/crises/emergencies should sign up?

It probably won't stop future wars, but it's an a-peeling idea.

Greg Bray blogs at Find him on Facebook: Greg Bray - Writer.

This column is featured in APN's new Weekend Magazine. Don't miss your weekend lift-out each Saturday