I’ve been dwelling on the past a lot recently. It’s hard not to sometimes, especially in this sort of environment. But this time I’ve found myself thinking about all those moments that could have changed my life, if only I’d taken another decision, followed a different road, or even missed a train.
The most radical of these actually took place on the day of my arrest. I was sixteen years old and already engaged with big plans for the future. Me and my fiancée had discussed it and, almost exactly twelve years ago, we headed off to the Army Careers Centre to make arrangements. We’d already been once and this time we were just going back to confirm that we wanted to join up. They told us that they could send us to an army technical college where we could live together on site for just £52 out of our weekly wage whilst we learn a trade and develop skills that would allow us to embark on a career in the army or on civvy street once our time in college was over.
It was perfect. We’d get married, go to the college, train up and save up, and then I’d start a career in the forces whilst my fiancée decided if she wanted the same or if she’d had enough and get a regular job.
Only one problem. Less than twelve hours later I was arrested and I haven’t been free since. But I do wonder. What would my life have been like if I’d never been locked up? Would I have married my ex? Would we have stuck at it despite our age? Would we have had kids? Would I have kept to the plan and carved myself out a career in the military? Would I have been sent to war? Would I have died? Would I have killed people who I now believe were victims of world politics? Would I have realised that? Would I have refused? Would I have been court marshalled? Would I have been locked up? Would I be in prison right now?
How different could my life have been?