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.