Over the years I have regaled family and friends with the show stopping news that I learned to drive up the Khyber Pass during an undistinguished career in khaki as 14894617 Sergeant Signy Sahib. The only action I saw was in the Punjabi riots soon after the end of the war when an excitable young man stuck a knife in my right hand - the remnant of a scar is still visible.

In truth, I reckon I saw more wartime action as a cub reporter on the Hendon and Finchley Times serving as an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) messenger during the blitz as the bombs rained down. I slept at Hills' garage at The Quadrant, Hendon, in between cycling around the borough with messages of import when the sirens awoke us. Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous reckons that when he hears of my wartime years he always pictures me as a young Pike out of Dad's Army.

They put me, in their wisdom, in the Intelligence Corps and one of the delights of my younger years was to go back to Finchley County School and flash my shoulder tabs at headmaster Harold Chalk, who had branded me and my mates in form 2B as the worst class he had encountered in 27 years at the helm.

The Intelligence Corps had a reputation for having more casualties from motor cycle accidents than enemy action so the fact that I was dismissed from the course at Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire by wrecking my bike and several others by going round a tree the wrong way and meeting oncoming colleagues undoubtedly saved my life.

So I was proud, if perplexed, to receive a top drawer invitation from the Worship the Mayor Councillor Anthony Finn BSC (Econ) FCA of the London Borough of Barnet to an Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony and parade on Sunday."Honouring Britain's Armed Foces past, present and future", said the invitation; I thought the Mayor's Secretary (Angela Richardson) had done excellent detective work unearthing the work 14894617 had done for King and country on the Afghanistan border.

The snag was that the invitation specified the dress code as No 2 dress with medals OR Combat 95 for soldiers OR "best uniform". I rang the town hall to point out that I had exchanged my uniform for an unbelievably hideous demob suit, which was so garish that I could only blame my colour blindness, and had not worn a beret since 1944.

Also, I pointed out, I had one lone medal, which I did not collect for 60 years, and that my weight was at least two stone more than it was in those heady days. Journalists are prone to exaggeration; I am sorry Angela but two stone is a bit of a cop out!

It was agreed that I would not go on parade but report straight to the town hall. I dug out a suitable blazer, hunted high and low unsuccessfully for my lone medal and also my Army pay book. That reports my height as 6ft 1ins and my eyes as hazel. Today read 5ft 10ins and bloodshot. I can't prove it in a court of law but that book also says I was proficient with a rifle.

More memorable to me (although not recorded in the book) was being on a Sten gun exercise followed by a quite unpleasant Lt Ball. As the targets popped up right, left and centre, the young officer bellowed at me from behind and finally I turned round to ask him what his problem was , the gun splattering shots in all directions around his feet. The fact that I had no control of the machine proved the lieutenant right in his abuse and saved me a court martial.

Incidentally, the last time I was on parade was in Egypt circa 1947. I was put in charge of the marching men and, at the appropriate time, screeched "Eyes right". Snag was the VIP general (or whatever) had taken up position on a platform to the left. I was smuggled out of Egypt quickly after that and finished up in Austria.

As I approached the town hall, I half expected a tap on the shoulder from a member of HM Constabulary querying if I was an imposter posing as a fully paid-up member of the winning side against the Germans. To counteract having to explain how I, as an 18-year-old squaddie, transferred from suburbia to become one of the last members of the British Raj Up the Khyber I wore my Army Benevolent Fund tie with my blazer.

For 35 years or so from the Seventies I was chairman of the Barnet appeal of the ABF and helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds. With Inglis Barracks at Mill Hill the social centre for the borough, our Barnet appeal were the top fund raisers for the military in Britain.

Memories of those halcyon days when 14894617 became an honorary member of the Officers' Mess came back last week with the death in Malvern of Brigadier Rolph James, commandant of the barracks for three years in the Eighties. In his time at Mill Hill we had a visit from the Queen and a grateful Barnet Coucil awarded the Royal Engineers the Freedom of the Borough, Sunday's ceremony at the town hall was impressive and excellently organised. "It will be better next year", the Deputy Lieutenant told me. I said I'd try and get there. The kids have stopped buying me five year diaries though!

As I sipped an orange juice a councillor of my acquaintance said:"How did we win the war with you on our side?" I responded by saying that Hitler conceded defeat just a few months after my joining up.

He had a point though.