I thought whether I wanted to post this, but what the hell: Many years ago, as a subaltern, I was unlucky enough to be picked to hold my then CO's bags as he prepared for a TEWT or some such in Durham... Off we went, clambering about the boggy countryside in our combats (I have a memory of No 2 dress, but cannot believe we were that pompous...) Anyway, we were both in uniform, and an anonymous civvie was brought out of his cottage in a coffin as the CO stood planning the exercise whilst I stood there like a spare part holding his bits and pieces. As he was lowered into the hearse, the CO stood to attention, ordered me to do the same, removed his headress, and we saluted as the hearse trundled sedately away. Afterwards, he quietly pointed out that we were representing the British Army to the family and observers, and that we were also aknowledging a fellow human being's end to struggle etc, and whoever or whatever they were, they deserved our courtesy on their final journey. Made a big impression, and was possibly the most useful lesson I learned that day. (He was the last true old-school soldier I worked with, and was a gentleman in every way). Today, as I passed the Defence Academy at about 1500, I saw a police car screaming toward me at about - oohh - I'd guess 50 mph on the other side of the A420. Blue lights on, and I had that moment of 'oh sheeeit, what have I done?' that this sight always generates (in me, anyway). Then, as my highly trained anti-surveillance drills kicked in (!), I noticed that it preceded assorted other police cars and 2 hearses. This is, of course, the route between Lynham, Brize and Oxford that the boys make their final journey on, if they make the ultimate sacrifice. After a moment's disbelief, I braked, clambered, fat, old and civvie to my feet, and saluted as 2 brave youngsters, covered in union jacks, screeched past me like something out of the Sweeney, with one stoney faced copper sticking his hand out of the window and making threatening gestures at a car about to emerge from a side road. Well done Thames Valley police for actually providing an escort - but for Christ's sake: this was about as dignified as the latest XBox game - 'Grand-theft coffin chase'... Would it hurt them to be a little more dignified about it? From what I saw today, I'd rather they got the feck out of the way, and just let the funeral company bring our boys home with at least the semblance of respect. As an aside, it also made me think that I'd like the Defence Academy to be ordered to parade there every time one of our men or women is brought past - that might concentrate the mind as they study their art of war for promotion and appointments... Sorry, long post, and I still wonder whether I'd want someone posting it if it were me or my loved one in that coffin - but as a one-time fellow soldier, this was an abortive example of the utter loss of respect in our society. It made me think what a shabby, cr@p country we live in.