The Royal Air Force finding recruits on home territory
My granddad Findlay, pictured, was an officer in the Royal Air Force but one who never flew. It's only because of the stories I've heard second hand of him being stuck in the desert for five and a half years that I was even aware there were jobs akin to being Bond that one could apply for in the Air Force, Army and Navy. I even went as far as going through the rigorous application process so that I, too, could spend the prime of my life hiding in a tent, listening to enemies miles away.
Today's youngsters don't need secondhand stories of relatives that lived in a black and white world to see what exactly is going on in war zones around the world, thanks in part to the work the Royal Air Force has been doing in their homeland, the world of social media.
The Force's YouTube channel has relatively low numbers for each video, but a huge selection from which to choose. They explain, for real, what actually happens when the Air Force's ground soldiers have to go in and clear mines - there's no hi-tech, just brass necks.
The Force has kitted out several servicemen with cameras and storytelling skills, including this young Geordie gunner. They're about to kit out further personnel in Basra, giving an insider's story of what's going on through a new site, to be launched later today, RAF Frontline.
These might be part of a cynical bid to recruit youngsters to the world's most dangerous of jobs, or it might be a genuine effort to show them what they're getting themselves into. The videos are lightly edited, to omit anything that could be a security breach. Otherwise, though, the in-house web team is keen to show not just front line action but downtime, too, to show, I imagine, that life in the forces is not all about skiing, pristine beaches and drinks with the lads.
But where I really admire their approach, is in how an initial foray into YouTube has helped develop the use of video much more throughout the more traditional parts of the site, in their "what it takes to be a gunner" video slideshow, from civvy to gunner. It works well as a story.
Not enough, mum will be glad to know, to make me want to reapply, but a jolly good example all the same of the fringe becoming the mainstream offering.