Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ex Oriente Lux

The War Office has decided to boost the popularity of the Army with our pasty-chomping fellow-countrymen by having squaddies march around the streets in uniform, rather than in jeans, crew-cut and Lynx like the rest of us.

Smart move. It worked in Chile, after all.

The generals are worried that our burger-flecked youth does not respect the armed forces, based on the fact that no one turns up for coming-home parades in the web-footed Fens and what have you.

I wouldn't worry. Those people still think we're fighting Boney. Fact is, British youth respects no one unless they've been on Big Brother or some botox-sponsored talent show.

So unless they want to hear something along the lines of:

"Hi, we're the The Royal Dragoon Guards Battlegroup and this is 16 Flight Army Air Corps, but tonight, Matthew, we're going to be Steps!"

The brasshats ought to relax.

The real problem the Army has is that it used to be a handy way of travelling the world, scoring some primo weed in Belize, learning why we fought the Germans twice while trying to get served in a bar in Bielefeld, and picking up a trade, with the only downside being having to sit in a bath of penicillin for a week after a night out in Larnaca. Ulster had calmed down, everything was going nicely.

Then along came Tony Blair and his radical conscience, and ever since our soldiers have been stuck in pebbly countries with atonal folk music, poor bar facilities and a female population most often kitted out in hessian sacks, kalashnikovs and a brace of suspicious brothers. A hard gig to sell even in Newport.

If it's any consolation to the Chiefs of Staff, when in doubt I always turn for inspiration to Ukraine. The Ministry of Defence in Kiev has had to deal with similar problems, with the added disincentive of malnutrition, buggery and being blown up by drunks' using your armoury as a fumoir.

Their response was the following recruitment video:

The message here is simple:

"That fat kid from your village learned to read and got a job with computers and stuff in Cherkasy. Now he's got a car. Big deal! You just join the army, son, and the cast of the Fastiv Amateur Dramatics Society production of Flashdance will do the sort of things to your crank that Yanko's gran got up to with the Germans during the war. And you get to keep the tank every third weekend."

I don't know whether being molested by the female population of Wantage is as attractive a proposition, but it might be worth a try. Alternatively, our aspirant warriors could always join the Ukrainian Army. It beats working in Morrisons.


Gorilla Bananas said...

Don't they still have conscription in Ukraine? These slavic nations are getting very westernised in their thinking. What about having a Cossack regiment? You can't beat the Cossacks for horsemanship and swordsmanship. They could use it in a tourist campaign aimed at middle-aged German woman. Visit Ukraine and get ravished by a Cossack.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, this is glorious, I want to join :-) In fact, as Ukraine is (I think I’m right in saying) the most crapped-upon nation in Europe (yes, fellow Romanians, it IS a nation, it IS in Europe – and you think YOU got the worst of Messrs Hitler & Stalin?) we should ALL join. The girls are actually better-dressed than this video indicates, the ciggies are cheaper and, as GB says, if you join something with the word “Cossack” in it’s title, you may even get a chance at wearing strong aftershave and getting off with the tourists. "Hourra!!"

No Good Boyo said...

GB, the Ukrainians are trying to phase out conscription, a Soviet forced-labour cum youth-control mechanism that's long outlived its usefulness, without turning their army into two village idiots and a dog.

The video in my post is in fact an advertisement for contract service in the armed forces.

As a result, Ukraine has a two-tier army: a phalanx of well-armed nutters, as can be found arm-wrestling Irishmen on "peacekeeping" missions from Lebanon to West Africa; and a morass of spud-peeling yokels polishing colonels' doorsteps in provincial garrisons from Lviv to Kramatorsk.

The one thing it hasn't ocurred to them to ressurect is the Cossack regiments, perhaps because these have almost exclusively unsavoury associations in the all-important United States.

The Russians, who give not a shit about the Americans, have restored the Cossacks to their time-hallowed role of scaring ethnic minorities by using them for border patrols in the Asian part of President Putin's spastic empire.

Your Shag-a-Frau business plan is intriguing, GB, but falls down on three counts:

1. Ukraine is crammed to the borders with women of trouser-bursting scruntiness, so having a pot at a leathery old bat in Karstadt slacks holds little appeal.

2. The financial incentive is largely irrelevant, as Ukrainians always prefer indolence to making a fast hrvnya, unlike their Polish neighbours.

3. Cossacks may appeal to the pre-war imagination, but most Tuetonic divorcees get their kicks in the isles of Greece, the beaches of Gambia and the backstreets of Cairo these days. Closest they can get to an empire.

It might work with the Geordie hen-night crowd though, if sold as "Hoo Many Cossacks Can You Teck On, Hinny?".


I fully share your enthusiasm for all things Ukrainian, especially the women, cigs and eye-melting booze, but would maintain that the most crapped-upon nation must be Belarus.

Almost totally knacked by the Nazis, barely clinging on to their language, no scenery apaprt from totally Chernobylled swamps, and now with Lukashenko they even crap on themselves.

At least Ukraine has got rid of the Kuchma gangster regime. I pity the Minskies, I really do.

M C Ward said...

One of your best, NGB! In my experience, squaddies don't exactly ooze respect for us civvies, as the actions of the Private who put a baby's pushchair through my friend's glass front door testify. Being ex-Army myself, I'm appalled.

No Good Boyo said...

Thanks mc. My brother is an ex-squaddie, and gave me the impression that the MoD may agonise about what the public thinks of them but he and his colleagues did not.

The high point of my brother's military service was being on guard duty on the Berlin Anti-Fascist Defence Border the night it came down. When he saw the crowds of Ossies surging forwards he started to fix his bayonet, until an officer came along and told him it was a real Movement of the People.

He spent the night handing out coffee to polyester-clad people with bad haircuts, who hugged and gave him East German cigs. This was not what he'd trained for.

I like to think what might have happened if that officer had been a little late on his rounds:

Young Udo had dreamed of a life of freedom in West Berlin, and now he sauntered past the scowling Vopos - only to be bayoneted by a Welsh nutjob.

My brother helps the Berlin Wall claim its last victim.

Alistair Coleman said...

I've always said that we should have Soviet-style armed forces programmes on BBC1 of a Sunday morning, if only to remind the youth of the nation what might happen to them if they don't listen in school.

Hmmm... there's a blog post in this.