May 22, 2007

In my early teens I devoured a series of books which followed the fortunes of a new infantry officer in the British Army as he joined his regiment and then found himself engaged in various scrapes in Europe. Boys Own stuff. I cannot remember who he was nor are the story lines at my fingertips. But I do recall the military town of Aldershot figuring in his training at some point and the place has remained linked in my mind to the British Army ever since. If however there was any romanticism attached to the place as a result of those books such sentiment was sadly tempered this weekend. The town does not wear its military history at all. Sitting in the main street drinking coffee the view, conversation and experience is a grey one. A country town slum would be kind. The plumage of colour I took from the books, if ever true, is non existent. The occasional building hints at some history but military barracks are utilitarian in function and most now reflect that in their design. The best I could find that gave any hint of military heritage was the comparatively young officers mess of the Queens Own Gurkha Transport Regiment. I am sure there is history more tucked away but the town hides it very well.