Indian visa tips

I’ve just been through the byzantine process of getting a visa to visit India. Actually, once the package of documents was sent off by post, it was quite slick: I received regular updates on the application’s progress, and everything was completed and returned within about a week. But getting to that point was far from straightforward. For the benefit of other travellers, here are my tips for navigating the process:

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The difference between the British left and right

I’ve just realised that whether we’re on the left or the right of the political spectrum, as Brits we all share one political belief: that the country’s going to the dogs, whoever’s in charge.

The difference between the left and right is just that the British right believes it goes to the dogs slightly less rapidly under a Conservative government, and vice versa.

No-one actually believes any party, even the one they support, can or will do anything to make things better. At best we hope that our chosen party, when it screws everything up, won’t be quite as catastrophic as the other lot would have been.

Sports doping: let’s be honest, they’re all at it

Here’s a truth you already know, but don’t want to admit to yourself. Doping is endemic in sports. And I mean all athletes competing at the top level, in all sports: they’re all using substances to enhance their training and performances.

Consider the following three mutually inconsistent propositions:

A. Drugs testing in sports is a constant arms race against the dopers.
B. Only a few of the top athletes in any sport are dopers.
C. A small but significant number of top athletes are caught doping.

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Catterick Garrison woes – update

Still, it’s not all bad. The Health and Safety course I’m on is taught by an ex-military man, who retains the forces ethos of knocking off early as long as the work is done. We’re finished by 3.00 pm each day, so by 3.30 I’m enjoying the sunshine and a pint of Wensleydale Brewery‘s Semer Water ale at the Bolton Arms, Leyburn, in the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales.

Catterick Garrison accommodation woes

I’m sorry, but it’s time for a personal whinge. I’m going to tell you the story of a particularly painful and ludicrous Army admin procedure.

I’m currently staying in Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire for my final resettlement training course before leaving the Army. When I booked myself on the course, I also had to arrange for some accommodation. I wasn’t looking forward to it, as I’d had dealings with Catterick accommodation before…

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Future Reserves 2020: what the Defence Secretary didn’t mention

Last week the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond shambolically announced the Future Reserves 2020 white paper, outlining new proposals for the Territorial Army (to be renamed the Army Reserve).

The success of the expanded TA is crucial to the overall changes in the Army. The new size of the TA, increasing by 20,000 from its current 10,000 to 30,000, is supposed to counter the reduction in the regular force from 102,000 to 82,000. On paper, the total number of regulars and reservists remains the same, so that the United Kingdom maintains the same military capability while reducing costs.

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