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Home Sweet Home

The conclusion to nine weeks of BMT happened a couple of days ago, on the 11th. There was a little bit of euphoria and chaos on the square after the parade was over, when us newly-promoted Privates rushed around getting photos with our buddies and sections and the assorted groups we had happened to have been involved in in the weeks gone past; for the most part, these were the people with whom we had sweated and struggled to make real that initially empty (and galling) pronouncement, ‘We like it here, we like it here, we’ve found ourselves a home.’

After that, there were the nods and callings-out and waves across the lines of people while we queued up for transport. Many of us were also lucky enough to have those last conversations with our bunk mates or buddies while waiting in line for the boats that could, possibly, be bringing us away from that particular island for the final time, although the vagaries of transport schedules put an abrupt end to many of those final exchanges.

When the journeys were over, it was night, and I think most, like me, were simply tired at the end of the day. But, as always, my parents were there with me. They would not have begrudged me spending my energy snatching the last few minutes and the last few words with friends I could not be sure of seeing again. They were just happy to have me back, not my attentions, and surely, after that first rather long stretch of life in the barracks, that was something to feel profoundly grateful for.

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