Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mis-spent youth

I found this guy today.  I feel some of his pain - well quite a lot of it actually. Sadly, it is not new and I discovered that old Socrates (or `Socca` as The Sun newspaper would've called him) may have said,

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers". (Wiki).

 I was a Metropolitan Police Cadet. I joined in 1969. It was an outstanding regime, modernised largely by this man

 The Met Cadets was a bit like the Army without rifles, artillery or explosives. In fact we regularly took the army cadets on at sport, etc. I remember being up Snowdon in a blizzard in March. You couldn’t see 5 yards and we were roped together and were using ice axes. We passed army cadets coming down and their leader told our leader it was too bad to go the final 500 feet – what a challenge. Up we went, got to the cafe (closed) saw nowt but white, and headed down below the weather line into mere driving rain. One of our lads ended up airlifted to Bangor, by the RAF, with moderate hypothermia! he was on the phone later that day, asking to be returned to his squad for the rest of the expedition.

The Met Cadet scheme today is not like that any more. You can be a `cadet` now at a mere 13 years (our regime was way too vigourous for 13 yr olds) plus it doesn't pay a wage – at least we were paid £4  a week, fed, watered, clothed and accommodated...when I entered Hendon as a constable on my 19th birthday I had been transformed as a person; I had experienced harsh weather, been punched around a boxing ring, thrown around a judo mat, roadwalked, run ragged, abseiled, canoed along rivers and the sea, become a gymnast, marched to Guards standard having been drilled by an ex Grenadier drill Sgt and performed 2 months voluntary service in a secure psychiatric unit in south London. I felt as if I could have pushed a house over and woe betide anyone who messed with me.

Did it help me in my career? Well I was never as tired, cold or sapped of energy like I was during those cadet expeditions so I think it did. I had been given a very up close and personal insight into the vagaries of mental illness so I guess that helped me too, as the mentally ill sadly come into contact with the police quite a lot. And yet all of that paled into insignificance when one looked at what Colonel Andrew Croft did. He was our Commandant and I was so proud to have served in his Cadet Corps.

I expect the cadet schemes these days are seen as a waste of money. Perhaps they wouldn't even be allowed to run along the lines of the one I was part of. Maybe people would be just too scared to allow them?  I don't know either way.


No comments: