Way back in 1984 I moved away from the East End of London near Canning Town to Hampton Court. It was a surreal move as I had been living in a hard to let council flat with a teacher Jeff who had been on the same MSc astrophysics course part-time with me at Queen Mary College in Mile End Road.
I couldn’t afford a flat, never mind a house (or palace) in Hampton Court so persuaded my father to guarrantee a loan to buy “Jaslee”, a 35′ Broome Commander wooden river boat moored on Ash Island. It was owned by Brigadier James Stuart Lee of BAOR hence the name.
Almost immediately after I bought her I lost my job as a trainee chartered accountant at Kidsons in Aldwych (even in those days I disliked tax) and so went on numerous job interviews before my father found out and got too worried. Luckily the job market was much healthier in those days and I had two offers fairly quickly, Amoco Oil Exploration UK Ltd and Pfizer UK Ltd – the latter which I accepted as European financial analyst – based in Staines.
Problem was after settling in for a couple of years and having already completed my MSc in 1983 I wanted to do something else part-time outside of the day job, so I volunteered for a TA assessment weekend in 1986, from memory at an old army training camp near Crowborough.
I chose the Int Corps carefully as it sounded interesting, was paid more and had a higher incidence of female soldiers at least compared to the infantry! I passed selection with the help of some lifelong friends and joined Squad 29 in the Corps Training Platoon of Int & Sy Gp (V) based in Handel Street London.
At 26 years old I was one of the older recruits but I loved it and stayed in for nearly five years rising to the heady rank of corporal. In 2016 we are planning a reunion in London of all members of Squad 29 which should be great fun! quite a few of us have found each other on Facebook.