Note: This is part of a series. You can read part one and part two, here.

It was like the first day in the car park again. All these bodies with strange faces were there. It was because all the sick, lame, and lazy had turned up. The ones who did selection in installments at a much slower pace. “TA are here,” I said to my mate.

“Ain’t they just,” was his unimpressed reply. The staff dealt with the TA first, which actually afforded me the extra time I needed to get my boots on properly, but the days of doing ’em up were long past. I watched these TA guys in their brand new kit, all clean and polished; they knew we were looking at them but they never looked back. I had made my mind up that not one of these toilets was going to get to the other end before me, even if you gave them each half a day’s head start. It would haunt me for the rest of my life if one did. The deal is, to pass as a regular, you need to be doing about six to seven kilometers per hour with all of your kit. The STABS could afford to go at three kilometers per hour, stop for breakfast, lunch, tea, and have afternoon snacks if required. In my mind, it was farcical. At that speed, a teenager of average fitness could complete the test.

On the truck, no sooner had I lit up my cigarette when one of these additions complained. I just ignored him. His mate nudged him. He got the message and realised he was on the truck with guys who had been doing this for four weeks instead of a day. It was still dark, and the whine of the truck as it went round the muddy Welsh lanes was unrelenting. I knew we didn’t have far to go. I had an extra cigarette just to piss my new mate off. Daz knew what I had done and was quietly laughing to himself about it. We had known each other for years.