Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by rickshaw, Mar 1, 2006.

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  1. Spare a couple of minutes, if you will, to read the poem below. The first verse has nothing to do with the current test match with India. The second is all too firmly linked to events in Iraq. A queston for you: common perception is that the society and values that produced poetry such as this is long gone. Is the Army of today still being driven by values that society has discarded and now decrys?

    Vitai Lampada
    ("They Pass On The Torch of Life")
    There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
    Ten to make and the match to win --
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play and the last man in.
    And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
    But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
    'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

    The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
    Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
    The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
    And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
    The river of death has brimmed his banks,
    And England's far, and Honour a name,
    But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
    'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

    This is the word that year by year,
    While in her place the School is set,
    Every one of her sons must hear,
    And none that hears it dare forget.
    This they all with a joyful mind
    Bear through life like a torch in flame,
    And falling fling to the host behind --
    'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

    Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)
  2. I think the army still attracts idealists Rick, although it is en vogue in the metropolitan set to suggest that the army is a microcosm of society and therefore must reflect current political thinking irrespective of the consequences.
    I sometimes feel we are the last bastion of ideals such as duty and comradeship and the very idea of personal sacrifice in the service of others seems to be in complete contradiction to civilian values.
    Whatever the armys faults (And it has many) at least there is a sense of belonging strangely absent from our civvie counterparts and the strange satisfaction gained from doing an impossible job impossibly well for an ungrateful nation. I have sometimes been humbled by some of the people it has been my privelige to work with.
    So the answer to your question is yes, we are driven by values that are alien to outsiders. For want of a better expression, there is more nobility of spirit about your average Tom, than in the entire Palace of Westminister.
  3. Absolutely - and I strongly disagree that the army should reflect all apects of society. It should reflect the ideals mentioned in your verse, not the latest trends. (Not disagreeing with you warrior - just this fashionable concept)
  4. Part of the problem with this man's army is that it is subject to fundamental moral confusion. One the one hand there is a significant proportion who serve who would dearly love to espouse these long gone values - playing fields of Eton and all that - but who are frustrated at almost every turn by the idealists and apologists who seem to have the loudest voice in today's society. On the other hand there is a new generation who see the Armed Services as no more than another job opportunity and who will use every resource at their disposal to protect themsleves from 'harm'. Some may argue that this is a good thing. But I would contend that soldiering is sometimes a brutal and unforgiving profession which is inherently not like any other calling there is out there. Unfortunately the middle ground is very hard to define, so there is an element of running to catch up in almost everything we do.
  5. The army will currently reflect our society as it seems to be the norm for things of worth to be dragged down to the level of the snivelling masses. There are so many weak people who don't like to be shown on a day to day basis how far they have fallen in politeness, decency, integrity and basic commonsense. It is easier to tear down something to be respected than to work hard and build it up.

    In that way we get the army we deserve, until the insincere hand wringing and mealy mouthed apologies of politicians over some mother's dead son provokes us to demand that those who hold public office are truly accountable to the same level as the men whose lives they risk.

    (harumphs and sits in corner with telegraph)
  6. Yuk,

    So Things aren't what they were in the good old days... I'll bet policemen were older, a pound was a pound, pop music had realtunes and policemen they're so young nowadays.

    Vitai Lampada represents the finest tradition of imperial BS. This poem struck a chord with a gerneration of Brits steeped in muscular christianity. It was mush to fill the minds of impressionable teenage public school boys who were going to spend their lives bearing the whiteman's burden. It is part of the British Empire mystic But its BS

    The battle of Waterloo wasn't won on the playing fields of Eton. We didn't win an empire by playing cricket. The people who did the fighting were as disconnected from cricket on the close as modern youth. Moralising about our own virtuosity was symptomatic of our decline not growth. The aggressive jingoism of Newboult's age brought imperial decline and two world wars. Britian's forces are expected to be well disciplined because its good counter insurgency practice and projects the image of British power that we collectively expect. Its not a "Game".

    Anyway, was Newboult's idealilism any more true that Kipling's poem about reality -and has this ethos changed much either??

    Iwent into a public- 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
    The publican 'e up an sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
    The girls behind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
    O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy go away";
    But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play-
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it's "Thank you Mr Atkins," when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian roo, but 'adn't none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
    But when it comes to fighting', Lord! They'll shove me in the stalls!
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy wait outside";
    But it's "Special train for Atkins," when the trooper's on the tide-
    The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
    O it's "Special train for Atkins," when the trooper's on the tide.

    Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
    An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
    Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy 'ow's yer soul?"
    But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll-
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes," when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
    Why single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
    While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy fall be'ind,"
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind-
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

    You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
    We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck 'im out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    n' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!
  7. There is no moral confusion in Honesty and Integrity and treating people fairly, the confusion arises when people take advantage of the inherent loyalty of soldiers for their own personal advancement and advantage. Just because we are in a brutal and unforgiven profession shouldn't be seen as an excuse for poor leadership and poor man management.
    Treat your troops with respect, cut them a bit of slack and they will repay you ten fold when it comes to getting them to do the business. Loyalty is a two way street.
  8. Interesting few responses to my original post. I think that if you had quoted this particular piece to soldiers at the time, there would have been a certain amount of nodding heads - as they were products of the system in which all knew their place. There would also have been a certain amount of eyeball rolling and muttered comments along the lines of "bollox". In the assembly halls of public schools, on the political stump, in overly patriotic households there might well have been swelling chests and th odd tear wiped away but in the field soldiers would have done as they had always done: fight for themselves, their sectiomn, platoon and so on up to the regiment. Beyond that, and I would suggest that the fighting man's motivation becomes a little more abstract.
    Today, though, we still need some of the sentiments and qualities that the poem espouses: the guts and determination to fight on when all about you seems a proverbial crock. But we're calling for these qualities from a society that does not especially regard them. How do we incalcate them in the individual and, equally, how do we convince the society on whose behalf we fight that these are qualitires that we need them to understand, endorse and encourage?
  9. Rick wrote:

    How do we incalcate them in the individual and, equally, how do we convince the society on whose behalf we fight that these are qualities that we need them to understand, endorse and encourage?

    Simple, we have a coup d' tat!
  10. Rickshaw - I agree with your sentiment - I just wish I knew what "incalcate" means.
  11. Ah, but the very values we espouse would prohibit us from staging a coup d'etat!
  12. Well, stuffin' a chicken (cue the Avian 'Flu comments) gives you a general idea.....
    Gawd, I am pompous..... "incalcate"............bloomin' 'eck, it'll be synergystic, overarching and holistic before you can point a chrome-plated, expanding pointer in my direction!
  13. Shall I promulgate this information ??
  14. Arghh! Please don't kick off on the military/management bulls*it bingo matrix compilation thing. Have some mercy - on other posters as well as me!
  15. Call me a gruff ol' pedant if you want - but surely the word you're after is inculcate?