At the age of 16, I joined the Royal Artillery and served for five years. When asked what my religion was I replied that I didn't really have one and the recruiting sergeant said "OK, C of E then." There didn't seem to be any other choice on the form. I was stationed in Germany for three of those five years (which is why I am a German lecturer now) and the only time I saw action was from the comfort of my barrack room when the IRA came on one of their away fixtures to Dortmund and bombed us out of our beds at four in the morning. The only damage was to the officers' mess and their Mercedes and BMWs parked outside and the simmering class war between soldiers and officers, which characterises the British Army, came quickly to the fore as we smirked silently to ourselves and looked down at our boots.