Barren Mess?

Caecilius

LE
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Book Reviewer
#61
I suspect there are several impact factors:

1. Mess modernisation - Is it modern? Is it old and tradition filled?

2. Unit - Combat arm / Administrative / Support?

3. Current mess attitude - Old and crusty ******* on PMC or young and vibrant?

4. Nature of mess - Enforced or free roaming?

If you looked at each mess and graded them against those four I'd suggest the winners were modern messes with a decent PMC and an amount of free roaming attendance and events.
That may depend on what you mean by successful. Without exception the messes I've encountered with the friendliest atmosphere, most popularity among their members and best attended events have been traditional, enforced, single unit, combat arms messes with a traditional attitude (combined with an expectation of fun, hard drinking, and mess games).

Proximity to London seems to make a huge difference as well.

Note that this is only for officers messes. I suspect the same formula doesn't apply to the Sgts mess.
 
#62
That may depend on what you mean by successful. Without exception the messes I've encountered with the friendliest atmosphere, most popularity among their members and best attended events have been traditional, enforced, single unit, combat arms messes with a traditional attitude (combined with an expectation of fun, hard drinking, and mess games).
You remind me of officers who say something is a "tremendous success" when everyone is forced to attend.
 
#64
No, only when people enjoy it.
In my experience few people enjoy enforced fun, if it was that great it wouldnt need to be enforced.
 
#66
That's a very British Army thing, carrying rank into the out-of-hours environment. I put it down to the fact that the Army is a lot more socially hierarchically conscious that the RN / RAF.

To cite an example, I've just come back from a tri-Service short course, principally populated by SO3s - SO1s and a number of superb WOs. The only people calling someone 'Colonel' in the village pub were the Army SO3s / SO2s, personally I found it more than a little obsequious.
So 'out of hours' you're just another civvie then? A great illustration of a job rather than a career, and indicative of why the military calling and service ethos are dying.
 
#68
A bollocking to the tune of £10,000 and a severe reprimand.

Officer guilty of barracks flare fire
Of course, but I was really thinking of them doing the Axminster shuffle the following morning in the CO's office.

What do you say (as CO) to a couple of pissed-up knobheads that negligently set fire to the mess?

Indeed as a pissed-up knobhead in front of the CO for burning the mess down, what do you say when he says "WTF were you thinking?".
 
#70
"I really can't find the appropriate words for you two, so I have delegated my authority to the RSM to deal with you".

"FCUKING GET IN MY OFFICE YOU PAIR OF CNUTS"
 
#71
The fun isn't enforced. The dinners are.
Much the same thing to those at the bottom, unless you believe they arent all career laughing.
 
#72
So 'out of hours' you're just another civvie then? A great illustration of a job rather than a career, and indicative of why the military calling and service ethos are dying.
Out of hours you fairly much are just a civvie, despite what the MOD may allude. Who the **** wants to hang around a boss who needs his rank to get through life?
 
#74
For many people it’s literally all they have
Yes but I meant people who arent sad cases and can cope with life outside of the military.
 
#75
I first became a mess member in 1992 and have served in a wide variety of messes since. I have had a fantastic time in every single one. A mess is a building that allows like minded friends to have fun. Whether that be 3, 13, 30 or 130, it matters not one jot to me.

Rules/traditons’ Are there to be challenged and changed by the current incumbents and in my experience they are constantly evolving, all be it in some messes not at the pace they should. But it takes effort from everyone sometimes.

An example being a certain senior member in a large HQ Mess refused to allow a TV in the main or scruffs bar (having a scruffs bar itself took some persuasion) so we convinced the need for a ‘briefing room’, ensured that the best place was the scruffs bar and got a projector wired in. A sky box was attached and suddenly a place to watch major sports existed. Lots of blind eyes turned.

If dinosaurs insist on certain rules, as above, you find ways to circumnavigate or more senior members earn their pay and challenge/persuad/cajole change. Or if they don’t care, don’t as is usually the case.

No one should be forced to be an active mess member, however, there should also be an understanding that it is currently part of the territory of being a SNCO/Offr, if they don’t want to pay Mess bills for the upkeep of the mess don’t take the f*cking Promotion.

I know my post is contradictory in places, however, I would rather have a function with 5 people who want to be there as opposed to 50 who don’t. And you can’t change anything sniping from the sidelines.

People might not see the utility of a place to get away and relax, because maybe they have never had the opportunity to see a mess as such a place and to those people it is a dated/archaic instution. Fair enough, however, people really need to be careful what they wish for, because once gone, they will never return.

Maybe life has moved on and all ranks eating/socialising together being all buddy buddy is the way ahead, but from my experience sometimes the troops want a break from their seniors just as much as the other way round. And sometimes it’s hard to give and accept orders from your so called mates.

Just a few of my thoughts on the matter :)
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#76
So 'out of hours' you're just another civvie then? A great illustration of a job rather than a career, and indicative of why the military calling and service ethos are dying.
When you're 'out of hours', to everyone that sees you, you are just another civvie (Unless obviously there's something going on that indicates otherwise) so why on earth would you want to drag work with you? It only makes you look like a ****, both to the civvies and to those serving colleagues more mature in their outlook. There is nothing more bell-ended than referring to someone by rank in a civilian pub. If the CO can't handle being called his name when he's out for a social drink, he shouldn't be out.

As I say time and again, beyond the gates, your standing in the military counts for pretty much hee-haw. Some people coming to the end of their time would benefit from grasping that fact. When someone says to a civilian "I'm a Staff Sergeant" or "I'm a Captain", they say it with the weight of all the work, sweat and tears they put into getting that rank; all the events that create the foundation for where they are now and how that one job title encompasses all the victories and maybe the losses. The civilian goes.. "Oh, cool." and thinks no more of it, because to them it means nothing.

As for a job rather than a career.... I served alongside plenty of good soldiers who were there for the job rather than a career. Did four or five years in a highly kinetic period and had their fill and left. I also probably met more officers who were there for the job rather than the career.. "I'll do four and then go to the city in banking." or the classic HCav of.. "I've got to do three to get the old man's money." :mrgreen:

I refer back to a post I made some time back about an ex-RSM who joined the Police shortly after me. Loved himself, 'Used to be RSM', and people were in awe for the first few weeks, before everyone rapidly identified him as a **** and the running joke was 'Here's the RSM', but not in a good or affectionate way. It was 'cos he never shut up.
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#78
That may depend on what you mean by successful. Without exception the messes I've encountered with the friendliest atmosphere, most popularity among their members and best attended events have been traditional, enforced, single unit, combat arms messes with a traditional attitude (combined with an expectation of fun, hard drinking, and mess games).
I can honestly hand on heart say that enforced anything, doesn't work. The only person who will truly think it works is the person who organised it, because of the attendance.

It might seem like everyone's having fun, but guaranteed there will be people asking themselves or each other, "When's the earliest I can **** off?". There will be people moaning about having to attend and there will be bitter feelings about the whole thing. I know that, because I've seen it. That's why certainly in ours on forced functions, there were often issues with drink and aggression - because people didn't want to be there and rather than drinking sensibly, they'd set out to get pished to make the most of a bad situation. Then before you know it, there are two fullscrews boxing in the toilets because they never liked each other, they had a falling out last week, and **** it, they're both stuck here and drunk and why not?

Summer Balls were always the one for me. Why the **** do I have to seek an excusal for the summer ball? Why are we so archaic that we can't just ask for registrations for attendance six months in advance?

I'll tell you why. Because they want to have a big fancy bash and want everyone to pay so it's big and fancy. That's why. They know that there will be people who won't turn up, but will have paid anyway - that slow death of £25 per month on the mess subs.

Our SCM went batshit one year when I think half the number never turned up on the night. His own words: "If you don't want to ******* go, then tell me and get an excusal" except at the exact same time, they'd made it very clear that the whole idea of getting an excusal was anathema to them. The hoops you had to jump through to get one was ridiculous.

Archaic nonsense. Yet because that was also the experience for the JNCO's, it put them off the whole Mess concept from the get-go. So our mess on a Friday night would be empty bar the usual alcoholic no-life SNCO's who were too afraid to make a go of something outside the gate and have a life.

It upset me. From starting off as a keen and thrusting Trooper, I always looked to the Mess as I place I wanted to be. Something I wanted to achieve access to. You'd see those of rank vanishing in there in the morning for tea and toast, or going in of an evening during a function in their mess dress.... It was one of the many things that made me work hard and promote.

In my minds eye, I saw me and my fellow JNCO's going in after work and having a few, a bit of shop talk, put the world to rights, etc.

The very first time I went into the Mess with my new shiny stripes on, I was in awe of the history and tradition.

Then I realised what went with all that. Tbe enforced 'fun', the crusty ******* who took umbrage at having their space invaded, the constant drip drip drip of wages from your pocket into the mess, and I never wanted to step foot in the place again.

Not once did us JNCO's that picked up at the same time go in there out of hours. Not once did we sit round the table, surrounded by pictures of our forebearers looking down on us as we relaxed with a pint and discussed any problems or issues we were experiencing with the troops. Not once did we go in there to socialise of our own volition.

I know this is officer thread, but I know from first hand account many of the younger 2LT's felt the same of their own. Christ, I knew a couple that used to slink into the main cookhouse after everyone else had been through because they couldn't bear the hoops they had to jump through in their mess.

Messes.... could be great, but many are just that. A mess.
 
#79
I had dealings once with an ex forces charity run by a retired Colonel. He insisted on being called Colonel. His assistant/2 IC insisted on being called Major.
I hope you called them both "mate".
 
#80
So 'out of hours' you're just another civvie then? A great illustration of a job rather than a career, and indicative of why the military calling and service ethos are dying.
A mate of mine is the CO of an SSBN, and routinely carts around the Atlantic Ocean with a warload of ordnance capable of starting Armageddon, and the authority to use it. Another currently commands an Air Wing engaged in strike, ISR and AAR ops. Both these blokes have a lot more responsibility than the CO or RSM of an Infantry battalion .

Out of hours, neither would even dream of wearing, flaunting or insinuating their rank. It's called being comfortable in your own skin.
 
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