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Saturday, 08 March 2014


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G'day Duffers,

Good manners, including how to hold the correct knife and fork, are an adjunct to intelligence and therefore competence at officer level. And having one's wife next to you at a Mess Dinner is civilized and helps compensate, in a small way, with the inconvenience they put up with when HM demands you be elsewhere for whatever reason. Just ask a nice Jewish boy who made it to a Crown and two pips from the bottom.

Given how you write and your perspectives on issues you'd have had no trouble in getting HM's commission here in Oz where we are more interested in ability not the DNA of who was screwing who in which country Manor House.

In every well lead organisation I've ever worked for there were rarely many airs and graces in the management team. The worst lead ones have always been the most loaded with etiquette and protocol, trying, as I believe they do, to preserve their closed shop leadership regimes.

A young kitchen worker tried to curtsey to me once while carrying a tray of plates and dishes on her shoulder as I walked through a corridor in the Royal College of General Practitioners. Wearing a suit, she thought I was a doctor. What sort of people would demand their staff curtsey to them in the 21st century? The type that killed a good friend of mine and injured many others through their negligence while commanding salaries in excess of £100k, of course.

And what type of senior military officers would demand their juniors take and hold a knife and fork correctly? The type who themselves couldn't take a couple of mountains from the hairies, or hold a medium sized city in the middle east.

Yes, I think I see a pattern here.

So, thank God, do the junior officers.


I'd strike a bargain: no sitting next to wives in return for abandoning the tie. What's needed is a regimental cravat.

Oh, SoD, I beg to differ. Everyone at the table benefits from good table manners. Good manners never go out of style and if we don't instill basic table manners in our children, so goes your empire and my republic. Admittedly, there are extremes, but watching pajama-clad diners in American restaurants, not to mention children who resemble animals at the trough, perhaps we've taken casual dining to an extreme. It's not about stuffy elitism, but about rising above the swine, while keeping our pearls as an ageless sign of good taste and refinement. Dressing the part, while holding public office, shows due deference to the importance and respect that position should command, not to mention self-respect - you care enough to make the effort to present a professional image. Sloppy attire, leads to sloppy operational performance in the military - it's all part and parcel to maintaining good order and discipline.

... and if we don't instill basic table manners in our children, so goes your empire and my republic.

So that's why they went!

DAVID. Mess etiquette proper dress and drill is the backbone of our Great Little British Army.
I recall a senior officer asking a SNCO what made a good soldier. The reply was: Sir you get pissed and enjoy yourself then get up for muster and work hard.

Are not winning armies oftwn fond of strict discipline?
Not to confuse pretty uniforms and the like with dscipline.

SoD I don't know and won't comment on "airs and graces" in the UK however having good manners and showing respect to those who have earned it is not an obsequious demonstration of inferiority on the part of the person showing that respect. And it works both up and down the chain of command.

HM's Services in this part of the world work on position by merit and while, to many in your part of the world, our attitude to "discipline" may be somewhat strange a structured discipline still exists at all ranks.

Libertybelle has summarised it well and perhaps we in the outer Anglosphere have taken the concept of manners and unit and self discipline to a finer more socially significant level than where it originated.

Having said that the Brit Officers, NCO's and squaddies I have met all seemed down to earth and bloody good soldiers.

DM, I have had to put up with a lot of seditious commentary on this blog but you have gone to new extremes:

"abandoning the tie"!!!

I will have you know, Sir that I am the Founder, the President for Life and, so far, alas, the Sole Member of S.P.o.T. - the Society for the Preservation of Ties! It's true that I rarely wear one these days but that is solely on account of the deplorable fact that there are precious few occasions or establishments where a tie is not looked upon as an eccentricity.

As to the main point of this conversation, 'Liberty' is spot on - as always!

Perhaps some people commenting here think the armed forces are organised on democratic lines. As far as I know, they are not.

However, the Officer's Mess, Sgt's Mess and Corporal's Club are rather semi-autonomous. Where this general went wrong is by addressing his complaints to all and sundry. He should just have had a quiet word with the President of the Officer's Mess. He, or she, being a person of rank and seniority would take care of things.

"Perhaps some people commenting here think the armed forces are organised on democratic lines. As far as I know, they are not.

Alas, BOE, I fear you may be showing your age - 'fings ain't wot they used ter be'!

"Alas, BOE, I fear you may be showing your age - 'fings ain't wot they used ter be'!"

Well, it is 20 years since I retired. Still, are you saying that if an army officer ordered someone to do something, then they wouldn't do it? If this is the case, then I am indeed out of date.

It might depend on the order and the circs!

I can just imagine it.

Pvte Smith: Sorry Lt Bloggs, I was just discussing Cpl Duff's order to shoot the jihadist, when the bugger put a bullet thru' the Cpl.

Life in 3 Paras must have been exciting!

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