I remember looking through the window, trying to work out what job I could do to earn a similar amount of money I was on, when a soldier came to the door in camouflage garb and invited me inside the shop.
I was outside the army and navy shop, just off Trafalgar Square, and I was killing time after having arrived for work in Endell Street a couple of hours early. It was in summer in the year 2000. Vince the admin guy working in the hostel had suggested I take a walk and attempt to kill time before my 10 hour shift. It was during the impromptu meander that I found myself looking at ads in the window of the services shop.
The guy was nice enough and after sitting behind his desk he asked me for some basic details. He finally asked me to explain what had motivated me to look to the army for career options. I recall laughing and explaining to him that my shift was to start at 3pm and that I had arrived at work early - that was the limit of my motivation!
The poor recruitment officer filled in the forms and finally after finishing the cup of tea and biscuits I had been given, I signed the completed paper on the dotted line, confirming that the information contained was accurate.
I left the shop to start my work that day and thought no more about it.
A few weeks later I received a letter confirming with me that my application for the army had failed. My medical records had been checked and due to my having suffered from 'atopic eczema' on my finger when aged 8 years old, the army just could not take the chance.
I empathized with the recruitment officers since to the best of my recollection the affliction had mainly lingered on my right hand trigger finger.
Although not a serious career option, I was a little sorry to hear that I had been rejected as a grunt. Notwithstanding that, I have kept the letter of rejection safe, for what it is worth.
Note: I would like to stress that although I treated the whole 'near miss' of being part of the services with a certain degree of ambivalence, I do have an enormous amount of respect for people who commit to a service as a career and, in particular, respect for those people who sacrifice themselves in the defense of their country.