Thursday, 12 July 2007

Little soldier girl

Can you believe that for 4 years in secondary school, I was a little girl soldier?

Everyone in school had to join an ECA (Extra-curricular activity). When the enrolment exercise was going on, my best friend and I promptly joined the brass band. After discovering that we had to attend band practice several times a week, we wanted to weasel ourselves out of the deal. Lacking the courage to do it ourselves, Mum went to school to speak to the teacher. I can’t remember what excuses she gave but we were freed!

Happy to be out at last, we decided to join the NPCC (National Police Cadet Corps). Being blur queens, we signed up for NCC (National Cadet Corps) instead. From a police wannabe, we became soldier girls. Oh well…

Life as a cadet corp was tough. We had to be on the parade square every Saturday morning, in our stiff, starched uniform and polished boots (with metal studs underneath). I loved the sound of my black leather boots click-clacking as we walked around. But that also meant polishing the bloody shoes all night long with black kiwi until I could see my teeth reflected on the shiny surface.

The uniform gave me the biggest headache. Big-time! My school was a 90-minute bus ride away from home. In order to get to school by 7am, I had to catch the first bus at 5.30am. On Friday nights, I would iron my freshly starched uniform (a formal green army dress) to perfection. I’d hang it carefully on the hanger, fold the skirt up, peg it and protect it with a plastic cover. The boots and other army paraphernalia would be ready packed in my bag. Perfect!

5am in the morning, I’d set off on my chopper bike with the bag behind my back, the dress hanging on the handle, to ride 3km out to the main road. When I got to the bus stop, my starched uniform had already softened in the cold morning air. By the time I managed to shove and squeeze myself up the crowded bus (because we lived so far away from the city, many other residents also boarded the first bus), my limp uniform had already turned into a crumpled dress. Let’s not even talk about missing the first bus or rainy days.

We changed into our uniform the moment we arrived in school. My fellow schoolmates (most lived near the school) would slip into their perfectly pressed uniforms while I unveiled my miserably crumpled one from the plastic cover. Needless to say, when we assembled in the parade square, I stuck out like a sore thumb. The teacher could never understand why I never looked my best. He thought I wasn't putting in enough effort. It didn’t help that the other girls in our snobbish girl school were terribly mean and unkind. So I was labeled the village girl from god knows where, who couldn’t fit into their city-girls clique.

As you can imagine, four years in the NCC didn’t bring much favourable memories. Fortunately, I had my best friend for company. She was slightly luckier than me. Though we lived in the same district, her house was right by the main road, and near the bus terminal. That means she always arrived in school with a perfectly pressed dress. In fact, she did so well in NCC, she was soon promoted to Staff Sgt and headed our troop.

Well, it wasn’t all misery. We participated in lots of obstacle courses (I almost drowned in a water-crossing exercise!), shooting competitions, camping trips and so forth. We canoed, kayakked, climbed, repelled, marched, assembled/dismantled/cleaned rifles, oh, the whole works.

I remember one year, a Cadet-Lieutenant from a junior college, started coming every weekend to train us. He wasn’t that dashing or particularly macho but being so male-deprived, all the girls were swooning all over him and vying for his attention. For the record, he finally married one of the girls. I think they have two kids now.

We had some opportunities to meet guys through combined-school training exercises. Inevitably, there would be parties and picnics after that, and the pairing-up of couples. Rumours were rife on who’s secretly admiring who, and who had a crush etc. I wasn’t spared of course.

Ah, those were the days….


Anonymous said...

cool how was ur rifling?

Blur Ting said...

I was ok at shooting. was in the reserve team during competitions but I sucked at topography.

Anonymous said...

Once I was talking to a young tourist on the bus. I think he was French. After seeing a group of NCC girls he seemed puzzled:

"Zees girls, zey are.. in ze army? But zey are so young!"

I had to explain the concept of ECA and NCC to him. He must've had a hard time understanding why people would do this for fun. :-D

Blur Ting said...

Yah, I know. I can't understand why they created such an ECA for fools like us to join!

Anonymous said...

Yeh Ting, did u know we were in the same ECA. Not sure if we ever met at NCC Day parade before ?

Yes, i remember the 'mirror' at the tip of my kiwi-black boots ! Never failed to get shouted by our seniors while the juniors sat all over the canteen frantically circulating the piece of cloth over & over again.

I remembered i 'black-out' once - must be too hungry after marching non-stop at noon hours.

And the most memorable of my NCC days must be being singled out for personal coaching on firing. At the end, the conclusion by the officer wass "Even if i put a big elephant in front, u will still miss the target" ! Ah, becos they did not know i had 'lazy-right eye' - so i could not see with one-eye !
Nice to know you are ok with shooting :)

Ah about the khaki-uniform, i thought mine was always not well-starched enough. But i think i might have received a compliment once saying "this one is well-ironed". Maybe that time my mum pressed for me ha ha..

Anonymous said...

oops sorry. its ML.. did not realise i forgot to sigh-off as i would appear as 'anoynmous' ha

Blur Ting said...

heh heh, i kinda suspected it was you leh! Cos I can imagine you talking like that :-)

But never knew you were in NCC tho. Come to think of it, i think my shooting also sucked. that's why i was reserve shooter. no chance to shoot one :-) But my group was the district champion.

The Real Mother Hen said...

YOU CAN SHOOT? WOW!!!!!!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

What an interesting story, Blur. Snobby girls are the worst, aren't they?! At least you had some cool "active" experiences.

Blur Ting said...

Oh MH, it's easy to shoot lah. You can too. I wasn't a very sharp shooter :-P

Yes, RM, snobbish girls were a pain at that time. Recently my best friend and I were just saying that we didn't turn out too badly ourselves.

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