Chapter 3: Marine Sergeant Tim
The careers teacher explained that the traditional career path for Bortsworth Grammar Old Boys was enrollment in the colonial service working in stationary procurement for the Empire. This career path had been unreasonably curtailed by two world wars and the collapse of the age of European Empire. Of all the teachers in the school, the careers teacher was the only one who had any kind of regular contact with the outside world (except matron who maintained her amphetamine racket extramurally). By Bortsworth Grammar standards he was a shining example of cosmopolitan sophistication having once visited a movie theatre. He had one alternative suggestion: join the marines!
The marines? I did not fancy the idea of being stuck on a wooden ship sent off on a three year mission to discover a new continent but the careers teacher assured me that the modern Royal Marines were much changed from how they were describe in the school history book.
Heartened by his advice I set off to town to find myself a Royal Marines recruiting centre.
My first attempt failed as I had mistaken the Post Office for the Marines. In my defence “Royal Mail” and “Royal Marines” look very similar if you are reading a sign from cat height. Further confusion at the Salvation Army ended more violently as I attempted to attack a uniformed man with a trumpet in an attempt to show my martial temperament.
“Kill them all.” said Straw Puppy in what I assume was an attempt to be encouraging but I had to leave quickly when two policemen arrived. “It’s that feline arsonist again!” shouted the short one and I had to run off before they stuffed me in a hessian bag again.
Eventually I had to travel all the way to London to find a Royal Marine recruiting office. “Kill them all.” advised Straw Puppy again, which I thought was both less helpful and less achievable as the marines were much better armed than the Salvation Army had been.
“I would like to be a sergeant in the Royal Marines.” I said to the beefy man behind the desk.
“You can’t.” he said, very directly.
“Why not?” I asked.
“You are a cat.” he said.
And that was it. I marked this down as an honourable discharge from the Royal Marines. With my military career over and my noble service to King and Country acknowledged by the “Join The Royal Marines!” souvenir pen I had swiped from the desk, I set off to return to civilian life.
“Kill them all.” said Straw Puppy as I hopped on board the double-decker Route master bus. “No, need!” I replied, “there’s a spare seat here.”
I was in the big city and a free cat once again. It was time to make my fortune!