Edumicate me. All these Mess Topics.

Discussion in 'Officers' started by California_Tanker, Sep 9, 2005.

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  1. OK. Evidently the Mess is a center of existance for officer types in the British Army. Whilst this (And the various idiosynchrasies therein) would ordinarily only be a matter of some academic amusement to my humble self, the fact that I'll be wandering over in the Bovington direction next week on an exchange would indicate that perhaps I had better arm myself with information. I've been that way before, but only in a civilian capacity to check out the museum.

    So, if one were to give me a crash-course in UK military etiquette that I might need to survive for two or three weeks, apparently to include some form of officer's regimental dinner thingy (Anything like a US Dining In?) what would be the first paragraph of "Everything you needed to know about the British Army but were Afraid to Ask?"? I'd hate to heinously offend my hosts in some obscure manner which would result in forfeiture of my left testicle or something.

  2. A US "Dining IN" is the Disney version of a Regimental Dinner Night.Be polite,as you no doubt would be anyway and don't attempt to have sex with the Regimental goat and you should be perfectly OK.
  3. The Mess at Bovington, commonly referred to as the Bovy Hilton is not the most inspiring of British Messes. Because it is a training establishment there are none of more idiosyncratic traditions that other messes have. That said you will need to have smart clothes, a suit, a tie and your Mess Kit for the dinner night.

    At the Dinner Night you should arrive downstairs before the official guests, unless of course you are one, there will be drinks and mingling but be warned do not drink too much at this stage and make sure you go to the loo before you go into dinner. There will be a seating plan, there may be a Grace and you will dine. Nobody leaves the table before the Senior Member (unless they announce a "comfort break"), there will probably be at least one toast "The Queen" even as a colonial it would be polite to stand and toast HM (for the British Officers it is a reaffirmation of their loyalty). At the end of dinner there will be coffee and port (make sure you pass it the correct way!) and if allowed diners may smoke. Afterwards if you are really lucky there may be a game of mess rugby!
  4. If they have a band playing you may well find that they play a tune just for you. Given your presumably North American origins I expect this will be either the Battle hymn of the Republic, the Star Spangled Banner or more likely the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies. It's good form to stand up / on your chair when they play your tune and demonstrate great gusto and form by clapping along or singing if appropriate.

    I suggest a good 'ol foot stomping thigh slapping

    "Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
    A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
    Then one day he was shootin at some food,
    And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.
    Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

    Well the first thing you know ol Jed's a millionaire,
    Kinfolk said "Jed move away from there"
    Said "Californy is the place you ought to be"
    So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.
    Hills, that is. Swimmin pools, movie stars.

    Well now its time to say good by to Jed and all his kin.
    And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in.
    You're all invited back a gain to this locality
    To have a heapin helpin of their hospitality
    Hillybilly that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.
    Y'all come back now, y'hear?. "

    Will go down an absolute storm, and you know - it really would.
  5. [quote="Paymaster"..............drinks and mingling but be warned do not drink too much at this stage and make sure you go to the loo before you go into dinner. [/quote]

    Agreed, we had US Naval officers attend functions on a couple of occassions and they needed to be packed away right after the dinner.

    You will enjoy the experiecne more the longer you can stay.
  6. Don't get your hopes up too high though. 'Duelling Banjos' can be a little tricky for a brass band.
  7. make a change from the shagging post horn thing, oh look they're blowing it right in my ear - again
  8. C_T, on arrival in your (no doubt) pokey little room, there will be a copy of Mess Rules on your bedside table (also check the little drawer, your luck might be in), read them and you will be 90% of the way there.

    My (limited) experience of Cavalry Messes is very positive, in general as a guest of the Mess you can do no wrong and they should go out of their way to make you as comfortable and welcome as possible. If they don't it's their failing, not yours. Just don't get too drunk and try to shag anybody on the veranda. Enjoy your stay and keep us updated.
  9. Hmmm. Some sound advice there (wind up merchants!). What to wear for a Dinner Night? Black tie 'tuxedo' (no frilly shirts though). If you have a mess kit (posh drinking clothes) then wear it. If you dont have that then wear your ceremonial uniform (leave the sword in your room though). So long as you look smart everyone will be happy (so no combat fatigues). If there are ladies present then definately wear your ceremonial 'blues' or 'whites' with all your medals and badges. Brit officers will take the piss, but medals and badges open ladies legs. They will think you are a war hero.

    As for toasts, stand and toast 'The Queen'. If the PMC has any manners (you might want to ask someone to remind him), there should then be a toast to 'The President of the United States of America'. If they are having a band there then the band should play the first verse of 'God Save The Queen' and should also play the first verse of your anthem. If however there are lots of Johnny Foreigner in the Mess, then they may chose to simply toast 'The Heads of State of those here represented', otherwise everyone will be bat-faced on port :).

    Port is passed from your right to your left (there is always some port left). Some messes hold that the bottle must never leave the table except when pouring (you slide the bottle), others have rule it must not touch the table except when at rest. Simply watch what others do. If there is a lady to your left, then offer to pour her port first, then yours, before sending it past her. NEVER allow two decanters of port to be standing at your place (it is considered greedy). By all means keep one so you can continually refuel your glass, but as another decanter approaches pass your bottle down.

    I reinforce the advice about drinking before the meal and going to the toilet before you enter the dining room. Even if you dont need to, go to the bog before you go in. It is spectacularly bad form to get up from the table while dinner is in progress; it can be expensive as well, both in money (being made to buy champagne or port) and dignity (people may steal your chair etc). Most Regiments are modern enough to declare a comfort break. Again though, you do not smoke until invited to.

    As you are a septic you should be able to get away with blue murder. Just play the "I'm a Yank" card and you should be ok. Once the toasts are out the way, feel free to get horribly cnuted (i.e. rather tipsy) and make an arrse of yourself. Everyone else will be doing the same :). True bullshitting_ should be left until after the toasts. Before that it should be reasonably polite conversation.

    Cutlery: make sure no cnut has tampered with it (fishing line or thread everywhere) and no flour hidden in your napkin (when you open it, do so holding it out to one side away from you). Start at the outside and work your way in with the knives and forks. Hold the knife like a knife and not like a pen (same goes for the fork). As you are a septic, do NOT ask for the ketchup. You will not get any! During normal meals you may ask for 'red sauce'. People will snigger, but then you are a colonial after all. Don't worry about what glasses to use: the wine waiters will use the correct ones. If in doubt have a look at the people around you.

    You should be have a great time. Just relax and get on with being yourself.

    As you might have guessed from the length of this reply, I am not very busy at work today (waiting for a flight home) :)
  10. If someone has tampered with your cutlery it will be extremely rude, you are a guest afterall. Any 'jolly japes' should be targeted at the 2Lts anyway.

    Don't cut up all of your food and then eat it with a fork as so many Americans appear to do.

    If anybody does snigger, remind them that you come from a well resourced, respected and very professional Army. You can then proceed to take the piss out of our lack of resources, training opportunities, Government, kanckered equipment, antiquated Mess rules etc etc.

    I presume you have a great deal of recent comabt experience. If so, form a small circle around you, and regail the fresh faced youngsters with tales of how you put a DU round through an Insurgent's left ear at 2000M etc.
  11. Just don't get too drunk and try to shag anybody on the veranda.

    Crap Spy,

    Do these rules apply to "small" persons and supervising adults attending the officers mess for a more informal event? 8O
  12. No, this rule only applies if C_T goes to the Mess function dressed as a woman.
  13. From experience of having American officers in the Mess:

    Ready-tied bow ties are not worn - get a proper one and learn to tie it.

    Use knife and fork at the same time - cutting up food into bite sized pieces and then using fork in the right hand is not the way.

    Admire, but never touch the Mess silver on the table.

    Check the seating plan in the Ante-Room. It is polite to locate the lady sitting to your left and offer to escort her into the dining room.

    You will probably have a little name card at your place. Once you have sat down, put it in your pocket. It will be a nice souvenir and will prevent it being sent to the PMC with a loving message on it.

    Don't stand too close to the candles; polyester uniforms melt.
  14. Thats good, I would hate to try and explain it all to the small S_M's before they attend small C_S's soiree. :wink:
  15. As I recall the only good thing about Bovington is a rather nice pool. In the small hours when the discussion turns to having a dip - find the orderly officers bunk - break in and use the window to climb onto the roof. The flat roof allows a tremendous run up and hey presto! Amuse your hosts with a spectacular bomb into the water.

    Just make sure the pool cover is off first.