Thursday 12 July 2012


A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility

 When someone recognizes a duty, that person theoretically commits themself to its fulfillment without considering their own self-interest.

Just before I, along with a bunch of other keen young men, was commissioned I attended a morning Church service in the Royal Memorial Chapel.  When I say I attended, what I mean is we were compelled to but it represented the end of a pretty arduous year of training and confirmation of our status in society as Gentlemen.  So unless one of us went mad and shagged the vicar on the altar, in less than 24 hours we would be Officers.  And on a cold December Morning, that was bloody cool.

On the wall of the chapel is an inscription.  Actually there are hundreds, all dedicated to ex Sandhurst cadets who fell in the line of duty, and unless they rebuild and vastly extend the chapel, there is no more space for such poignant reminders of the fragility of young officers faced with concentrated enemy machine gun fire while trying to lead understandably reluctant subordinates over the top.

The inscription we all giggled about, the one I am on about read, and please hopefully Peaceful Soul, forgive me for not remembering your name but I, as well as every other about to be commissioned officer in the British Army, can remember your memorial at least… ´In loving memory of Blah Blah Blah… accidentally shot by his gun bearer´, or something along those lines.  The killer (c´mon, we were all in hysterics by now) was the final line: ´Well done thou true and faithful servant´.

Someone paid to have this carved in stone as a memorial to their dearly departed.  If he had a gun bearer he obviously must have been a sport.  Let´s hope he was a good one.

What made that service so special though, was the fact that every cadet sitting in those pews would have laid his life down for his Country that very second if need be.  Everyone who knows me recognises that I am a cynical bastard, invariably only in it for the beer (and in this case a very smart fanny magnet uniform) but I felt exactly the same way.  Had Ivan and his massed hordes been pushing their tanks through the gates of the college they would have been annihilated.

Remembering how proud and honoured we all felt to be serving our country it is sad to see how many in public service are genuinely only in it for the beer.  Mr Blair inherited a rich country as a poor man and left a financially devastated country a rich man.  But he isn´t unique.  It appears de rigueur for politicians and increasingly, anyone senior in the civil service to surround themselves with PR teams, hamstringing themselves.  All initiative and strength of character diluted in an effort to stay on the gravy train that little bit longer and hang the electorate.  Members of the Lower House are more concerned with holding onto their seats than dealing decisively, perhaps unpopularly, with the serious issues facing the country.  As Chancellor of the Exchequer, we need Mr Micawber, not George Osborne or his ilk (Gordon Brown, accurately if unkindly described by Jeremy Clarkson as a ´one eyed Scottish git´, should burn in his Presbyterian hell).  We don´t vote these people in to play the markets or sell off the family silver, all we want them to do is balance the flaming books.

Recognising that all our politicians are essentially mercenaries to gluttony, we should not be unduly concerned, for we have an Upper House the members of which are little influenced by public opinion.  While not always successful, their neutrality having been heavily watered down by successive governments creating Life Peers and their powers being limited anyway, they still do a reasonable job of sense checking proposed legislation.

Mr Clegg sees the existence of an un-elected Upper House as an affront to democracy.  Really?  Perhaps he would prefer the American model?  One in which big corporate interests dictate both domestic and foreign policy? 

The man is mad and is missing the nub of the argument entirely (hardly surprising, I am reliably informed he can´t even find his own nub in the dark).  Why do we need two houses?  Everyone in every country in the world whines about bloated civil services.  Look at Europe.  If Mr Clegg argued for a reduction in bureaucracy and was going to start with the House of Lords, I may not agree with him but I would at least be able to see his point.  Any company, their shareholders at least, could argue convincingly for a leaner, meaner board of directors.  Yet while attacking an institution of his own country, one that has played its part in providing us unprecedented political stability and a buffer to venal interests, he is in favour of subordinating the democratic right of this country´s elected parliament to set its own laws for the people it represents to the greatest unelected bureaucracy the world has ever seen.  He can’t have it both ways.

Perhaps he would be decent enough to piss off back to Spain and help them pay their bills out of his own pocket rather than ours.

What the Country needs is strong and courageous leadership, with a bit of dignity, please.  And that´s what the Army tries to provide for its soldiers, the men and women officers are charged to lead and look after, requiring them to swear their loyalty to a monarch, not a dictator, and through a simple church service, reminds its new young leaders of their Duty.

I think it should be obligatory for incumbent Prime Ministers and other senior civil servants to attend the morning service of the day of the passing out parade at the Royal Memorial Chapel, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and lend their voices to those of the young men and women who really do know what it means to selflessly serve one´s country, and sing this without blushing:

Turn those speakers up and stand to attention!  Thumbs in line with the seams of your trousers!  Press down on the thumbs!  Lock those Elbows!  Stomach in!  Chest out!  Neck in the back of the collar!  LOOK UP!  For Christ´s sake, I never knew they could stack shit that high!  Call yourselves Fucking leaders of men Gentlemen?

The lyrics for those who can´t pass the ´Cricket Test´:

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

By higher (democratic) authority we are now discouraged from singing the second verse as it is considered politically incorrect,  potentially causing offence to previously disadvantaged minorities.  Remarkable then, that our leaders seem so keen on the sound of guns in distant lands and can shuffle shamelessly through the dying, the dead and the economic ruin of their own country.


  1. Tom Stephenson posted earlier this week about the House of Lords, and i was reminded how in the US, about 100 years ago now, we added Amendment XVII to the Bill of Rights, which gave the voters the right to elect Senators. Previously, the upper house had its members appointed by the lower house (House of Reprensentatives).

    The hymn's words are exceedingly powerful. I can't think of a single politician who could sing this wholeheartedly who didn't serve in the military.

    I was reminded of the US Founding Fathers' dedication recently when i reread how they pledged their lives, their wealth, and their sacred honour. It's amazing how far we've removed ourselves from that in such a short time.

  2. There is supposed to be a video of the Hymn but I really am becoming frustrated with blogger. It worked fine, now they have updated it, it is shit.

    You can legislate as much as you want. You cannot have democracy unless those tasked are honest. America is a recent example of a country that could start with a clean sheet. Look at it. Everyone looked to the East for a threat. Now if a bomb drops on you, it´ll be Made in the USA. Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan. Look also at all the African countries post independance.

    You do not need democracy, you need a benign dictatorship. I think that´s called a Monarchy but I´ll Google it and check.

  3. Let's be honest, it must be tempting when you hold political power to turn aside from the prospect of abusing it. Even old David Blunkett got sucked off, and remember what his haircut was like. I bet he never saw that coming!

  4. "I bet he never saw that coming!"

    Well of course he didn´t!

  5. 'Sucked into it'. You are such an evil bastard, IG!


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