So here we are - a twenty year old JJ. It hardly seems possible that another year has gone round. This time last year we were trying to get him into the Reserve, this year I had to go and collect him following a two day training session.
Because his Regiment has been deployed to the Lebanon they have had cause to call on the Reserves to provide manpower. He has already done one stint of camp guard and has another in a fortnight. He says it isn't much fun but if he wants to progress to better tasks he has to do the rookie stuff first.
It would appear though that his training and enthusiasm have been noted and he hopes to pass for 1st Class soldier at the next turn of promotions. He has already been told by the Recruiting Officer that if he sticks with the Regiment they will take him in directly in a couple of years.
So that goes well, but the search for a training course is not so easy.
Saturday evening then saw us dashing home from soldiering to prepare for his guests who were due to start arriving at 2000 hours.
Most of the preparations had been done prior to him leaving so the house was organised and I had pre-prepared most of the food.
Jean-Jacques obviously wanted to show off his uniform to those who had not yet seen it, especially so now that he has all his white webbing and regimental insignia - more badges than a good Scout.
We had a slightly bigger affair than last year with about 20 of us in total.
Unfortunately his mate Stan couldn't come because of a family marriage but one of his other friends from CD2C: Erwan, was brought the 120 km from the other side of Douai by his dad which was kind of him. His dad and I have passed quite a bit of time chatting in the car park at Doullens for the past 6 months whilst waiting on our respective charges.
We had a bit of a quiz after the meal but could probably have done with having it a bit earlier before the drink made people totally silly. Not surprisingly JJ and his two cousins managed to win with Johnny and Vanessa and her uncle coming in second. Thérèse and company had difficulty sorting out which Euro coin belonged to which country - Brazil not being in the Union amongst other things. Definitely too much pinard there.
JJ has been wanting to buy a Sony PSP hand held games console for a long time and decided that with the money put aside from his school he would purchase that and use the rest for a holiday somewhere.
With that in mind I said that for his birthday I would get him a passport. It actually arrived at the Mairie on his birthday so that was a happy coincidence.
In the small hours of the morning Erwan convinced JJ that they should head to the Kings Club at Auxi so they and the two cousins set off for a couple of hours dancing. Needless to say that Erwan fell asleep as soon as he got there !
By the time I had them back home and we had had a glass or two of vodka it was 0700 hours so it was no great surprise for me to find us all crawling out of bed at midday. We grabbed breakfast and then set out for Douai to take Erwan home. That is one long trip. Not so much the distance rather the wee villages and urban areas that you have to pass through once you get the other side of Arras.
Jean-Jacques and I were home again a little late but I don't think we kept Sandra and Peter too long waiting at the barrier for a nice quiet evening with a good bottle of wine decent whisky a cigar for Peter and lots of left overs including really good gateaux.
With their work going on at the house in readiness for the sale at Avondance Peter and Sandra have been really busy so it was good to have the chance to catch up with all their news.