If there's one thing that I can say with some measure of certainty it's this: I would suck in a war.
Now, it's nothing to do with the fact that I can't handle firearms and I'm afraid of explosions. It's simply that I'd faint.
When I was young I went through all sorts of injuries with a stoic acceptance. There was very little drama when as a 5-year old I joined my brother in a game of run-very-fast-at-the-wall in our garden, forgetting the crucial point of stopping short of the wall and ending up with a broken arm. I cried, of course, but otherwise I was fine (and got a cool cast to boot).
A few years later while visiting the grandfolks in Burnley I was playing tig with my brother (most of my injuries have been caused, at least in part, by him) when he dropped to the ground and forced me to jump over him. I tripped over his back and landed head-first on a steel heating vent, resulting in a lot of blood and a prominent 2-inch scar on my forehead. Again, no dramatics. I went to the hospital for stitches and kept quiet on the promise of a bag of sweets from the young nurse. I never got them, either. Bitch.
Another time I fell off the bike of a friend of mine onto a gravel road when I was about 10 and lost the skin from my knee. I bled so much that my white socks were dyed red from the toe up. Again, I hobbled home and quietly allowed my mum to tend to the wound.
There were many injuries like this. I've fallen out of trees, had skateboards run over my fingers and had more than my fair share of kitchen towel hooks in the head. Never did I respond with anything worse than a sharp scream and a few tears.
Sometime during my teens something went wrong in my head. Where previously I would have taken injuries like a man, suddenly I came across all funny at the sight of my own blood. The first time I noticed was during a game of football on the local schoolfield. I got taken down by a bad tackle and went all faint when my knee started to ooze. I had to sit out for a while while spots flashed before my eyes and a high-pitched buzzing filled my ears.
About six months ago I was having a smoke in the back garden when I caught a hangnail on a piece of card in my pocket. The skin peeled back and I bled a ridiculous amount for such a small cut. I finished my cigarette, walked inside and started searching for a plaster. The next thing I remember is waking up on a bag of plastic bottles saved for recycling, everyone in the house crowding around me with concerned expressions. I'll never live that down.
A similar thing happened last night. I came home from the pub a little worse for wear and made myself a sandwich. While slicing a french loaf I caught my thumb with a bread knife, cutting away a little flap of thumb. I cleaned the knife and got myself a paper towel to blot up the blood when I started feeling faint. I walked into the sitting room where my brother and sister were watching TV and fell backwards onto the couch. I'm told I looked as pale as a ghost - all the blood in my body seemed to withdraw from my extremities. After a few minutes I felt OK to go back to my sandwich, but as soon as I stood up the cut started to gush again and I was put off eating.
Now, I'm no pansy. I don't mind a little pain, though I'd prefer to avoid it as much as possible. Still, how can I claim to be a man when I fall into a dead swoon every time I see a little blood? Nobody's fainted since the 50's, for God's sake.
So, if the UK ever goes to war with your country and we institute the draft, be careful. When you storm a bunker and drive out the British troops don't get too comfortable. It could be the case that five minutes earlier I cut myself shaving. As soon as I wake up you'll be in deep trouble.