Men in uniform

Gareth in an Air Training Corps uniform

They say that every woman loves a man in uniform. To be honest, I’m not sure you can be entirely accurate with such a sweeping statement!

That’s a photograph of me proudly standing in the garden in my Air Training Corps uniform; I must have been aged about 15, I reckon.

And that’s a little orange wheelbarrow to the right of me, in case you were wondering. It wasn’t standard issue. Sometimes in the thick of pseudo-military situations you just have to improvise.

Which service do you want?

I really wanted to join the Royal Navy Training Corps (if ever there was such a thing), as my grandfather was an engineer in the Royal Navy, but given that Selkirk is about 33 miles from the sea and they couldn’t get a battleship up the River Ettrick (not that I suppose they ever even tried … lazy lot!) I had to make do with either the Air Training Corps (ATC) or Army Cadet Force (affectionately called “Pongos” by the ATC!).

My uncle had been in the ATC; he could fly a plane. That was cool. So I joined the Air Training Corps.

I thought it was classier too. Too many Saturday matinee films on BBC2, I reckon, watching Ginger and Blasher fighting it out amongst the clouds.

The closest I got to flying with the ATC, however, was sweeping out a hanger because our gliding appointment was cancelled due to high winds. We spent the afternoon instead wandering around the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street in Edinburgh with members of the public mistaking us for curators.

Favourite things

I had three favourite things in the ATC, apart from dressing up in the uniform, and marching around the local car park:

  1. The uniforms
    Well, alright, the first thing was dressing up in the uniform. But it was more so dressing up in DPM and hiding under bushes in our local woods. An excuse to play Hide and Seek with some vague militaristic theme.

  2. Shooting guns
    I wasn’t very good at it, to be honest, and I never wanted to shoot a human, but shooting real, live rifles was great fun none-the-less: lying prone with an SLR nestled into your shoulder firing off a magazine of .22 rounds into a small cardboard target at the end of basement room in Galashiels.

    We never got to combine hiding in woods with firing guns at targets … odd that.

  3. A sense of belonging
    Much of my childhood was characterised by my feeling that somehow I didn’t belong (I’m an Enneagram FOUR) so this was brilliant. It was like the Boy Scouts but without the bullying, with more discipline, and you got to run about in DPM, hiding in woods and shooting at targets in basement rooms in Galashiels!

    It was like Junior National ServiceTM, but more fun. I think everyone should have to do Junior National Service. It didn’t do me any harm … if you need me I’ll be the one hiding in the woods with a gun! With my gang. Dressed in camouflage.

What more could a teenage boy want?! A girlfriend, I guess … but that’s another story.

I’m going to IWMW2007 in York

York skyline, showing York Minster
York skyline, showing York Minster. (Photo from York Musical Society.)

Well, it’s all booked up now and confirmed: next month (16-18 July) my Web colleague (not Spiderman, the other one) and I are off to York for the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2007, which this year has the theme of “Next Steps for the Web Management Community”.

Last year’s workshop in Bath was great fun, not least because I had only been in the job for a little under two months and I was already heading off to my second conference; my first being the WWW2006 conference in Edinburgh.

This year I’m a little more clued up on the issues that face Higher Education Institution web teams, having been in the job now for nearly 14 months. Plus I’ve now met more of the Scottish Web Folk, so won’t quite feel such a ‘Billy No Mates’ at it.

I’m looking forward to hearing and meeting one of the speakers, Paul Boag who is also one of my favourite podcasters. Check out his Web-related podcast at Boagworld.

This year too I’ll have my laptop with me, and digital camera, so expect a few blog posts, some pics on my Flickr account.

If you’re going too, feel free to contact me beforehand; by whichever method you like (although email or Messenger are probably the most surefire way of getting me).