JUST days after I joined what was then the Territorial Army, I was issued with a rifle - if only to handle and feel the weight and attempt to put on a fiendishly-complicated accoutrement known as a sling.

The next day I was taught the names of each part before being instructed in how to strip and reassemble it. Only days later, long after I could take it apart and put it back together blindfolded, was I allowed anywhere near a rifle range and live ammunition. There, with an instructor as close to me as to be mistaken for a Siamese twin, I fired my first rounds.

As time passed I was issued with a garish yellow piece of equipment called a blank firing attachment, a device which bolted onto the end of the barrel to divert away from the direction of shooting, the gunk that emerges from the rifle after even blank ammunition is fired. Then blanks were only to be loaded in special yellow magazines.

From that day on, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, my weapon became part of me - another limb. When ‘bombing-up,’ or loading my magazines, I was always scrupulous to make sure that no live was mixed with blank and vice versa, and I prayed that those around me did the same. I treated weapons with the utmost respect, with safety being the big issue when they were being used and a bigger issue when they were not.

A Hollywood film set is no battlefield. No lives should be lost there. But tragically the script isn’t always followed.

READ MORE: Opinion - 'Litter strewn streets are in no state to welcome world leaders for COP26'

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Time for action over fireworks

IT’S staggering that fireworks - basically powerful pyrotechnics - are freely available to be abused in the hands of people who shouldn’t qualify for a TV licence far less lethal weapons.

Fireworks for me should only be sold to those hosting licensed, organised events which pass the appropriate health and safety assessments.

And even at that I would say that local authorities should not be spending money on a few minutes of whirls and whizzes when there are potholes to be filled.

And much as I love animals, I note with some dismay the campaign to have fireworks banned because of the impact on pets.

I know several military veterans who take to the hills and live rough for a couple of weeks around this time of year, because of PTSD and the memories and reactions the urban cracks and bangs evoke.

Control the sale if not ban fireworks altogether – but do it for the impact on humans.

READ MORE: Opinion - 'Does old age absolve some age old crimes?'

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So... have you got the bottle?

EVEN before the COP was a thing I was a zealous environmentalist and practiced the three Rs, reduce, reuse and recycle, as fervently as I do today.

And when I go to the bottle banks behind the electric car charging points on Helensburgh’s pier, I am never sure whether, as a good Scotsman, the obvious scale of my alcohol consumption should make me ashamed or inordinately proud.

One day I was carefully sorting out the bottles into their colour categories before launching them into the appropriate hole, when I heard a voice from off-stage.

“That must have been quite a night you had, Mikey boy!”

The mortifying volley came from a workman up a ladder overlooking the recycling area, who was laughing as he carried out his artisanal actions.

From now on the three Rs will be carried out incognito and at night – especially where wine bottles are concerned.