So, it was June 7th 1967 and I roll up at Poperinghe Barracks in Arborfield. Call someone with 3 stripes on his arm "sir" (I was brought up all proper, like) and hear, for the first but definitely not the last time, "Don't call me sir, I work for a f**kin' living!". OK, first mistake. Told to line up with another load of newbies and we are taken to the guardroom and issued numbers (Don't forget these, we are told, they are now who you are). Get the obligatory "2 bloody 4" from the guy in the admin office who is a 23999... Outside we all line up again (got used to this after a while) and are herded (some trying to march, some still trying to preserve a bit of swagger but most of us swinging arms the wrong way to the feet etc) and we are introduced to the camp butcher, known as "Sweeney" who promptly shaves our heads down to the wood except for a mop on top. Next stop, QM stores where we are issued the delights of what we are going to wear, brown plimsoles, hairy BD trousers, hairy shirts, hairy socks (how come everything's so bloody hairy?) hairy jumpers (lightweight ones with V necks and holes in the shoulders for sticking epaulettes through) big hairy greatcoat (still with the hairy stuff), a flasher mac (holes in the pockets for fiddling with your tadger?) and bloody great big, black boots! Never seen such bloody great boots. We are told one pair is for "best" and one pair for "working" but they both look the same to me. Oh, and a big cardboard suitcase to stick it all in. "Here's yer housewife (sewing kit) and button stick" then it's off to this big, wooden hut. 20 metal bedsteads, 10 each side, a metal locker (which is never to be locked except for your "personal" drawer) and a coal heater in the middle of the room. We are warned never to light his heater as it has to be sparkly clean at room inspections. Next, across to something called a bedding store where we are given a foam mattress, 2 sheets (starched to buggery), 2 pillow cases (ditto), 2 pillows smelling of something a bit iffy and 5 hairy blankets (back to the hairy stuff again). Back to the nice little wooden hut and given the first lesson of my Army career - how to make a bed block. So, the blankets are really for show and not for sleeping. One blanket on the bed, one blanket folded just so, a sheet, then another blanket, then a sheet, then another blanket and the last blanket to wrap them all up in a nice little rectangular block. The pillows go on top. "You will change one sheet every week," says the nice little Lance Corporal, "bed 1 will change with bed 2, bed 3 with bed 4 etc". (Now groan at how many times I'm going to hear that over the next 30 years). Next, in comes our friendly training Sergeant. OH, MY, GOD. He's a bloody homicidal maniac! Keeps prodding us in the gut with his pace stick. Spittle forms at the corners of his mouth every time he shouts at us. He can't say anything without bloody shouting. For God's sake, someone turn him off!!! The only thing I understand is that he is going to make our mothers cry over the next 8 weeks. Things get a bit better when someone (I later learn he is a 2nd Lieutenant and is our OC for the training period) comes in and tells us we should "all be bloody proud of ourselves" and "I am here to help you, so if you have any problems see your training Sergeant (Yeah, right, I'm not going anywhere alone with that psycho). Oh, and the nice, young 2nd Lt is still all matey and chummy and the Sgt and LCpl behind are rolling their eyes at each other. So, he finishes and it's off to the camp restaurant (or cookhouse, as they call it). Mustn't forget to take the "eating irons" the nice QM gave us but plates will be provided. Here's "yer scran", says the LCpl (does anyone round here speak English?) and we look at some brown "stew with dumplings", eggs done in a particularly fine layer of grease, something they tell us are "sausages" but they don't look like any sausages my Mum ever gave me, extremely un-lumpy mashed potatoes (with lots of unmixed powder) and gravy (?) with about two inches of grease to cut through before you get to the brown stuff. All followed by a big, duff type pudding which makes the plate impossible to handle unless you use two hands. Back to the table to find the eating irons have gone. "That's your first lesson, says the LCpl, "always look after your kit." Then we wash (?) our plates in a metal sink which has more grease on the top than the gravy did. We are then shown to the den of iniquity called "the NAAFI" where some big, fat birds with acne eye us up and down as if we are new stock at the meat market. Of course, I'm acting all cool and sexy until I remember my ears are sticking out half a mile due to my new, super-cool hairstyle. Then it's off to a little office where someone with 2 stripes asks us our numbers (of course, we've all forgotten by now except some smart arrse who remember his, so I remember I was 2 after him in the queue and add two numbers to his). This 2 striper turns out to be the pay Corporal who gives me Â£1/17s/9d and tells me I'll get paid on Tuesdays and will get Â£4/10s/3d the first week then Â£6/7s/9d a week after that. Good God, I spent more than that on fags in what I am now learning to call "civvy street". How can I survive on that? Tomorrow, we are told, we have to go to breakfast, shower and shave and something else beginning with sh. (not necessarily in that order) and then wait outside in "shirt sleeve order" as it is June. That is, them horrible, heavy boots, the hairy socks, hairy BD trousers, hairy shirt with sleeves rolled up, the "webbed" belt and wearing the beret (no cap badge) that looks like a saucer and has a nice little bow on the back. Whilst we were at the NAAFI, we were made to buy Kiwi boot polish (and told to throw away that nancy Cherry Blossom we brought with us) and a yellow duster. Back to the wooden hut and we are given lessons in how to polish the "working boots" and rub and rub and rub and rub until the pimples on the toecaps disappear. The "special" treatment for the "best boots" will wait until tomorrow. And that was Day 1. If I'd known what Day 2 was going to be like, I'd have gone home there and then.