So, is the mess relevant?

Bit contentious but having been in one for about 12 years now, I can't see the point of it....  OK, I'm not infantry so have no experience of that kind of mess but for me, the mess consists of a few self-satisfied control freaks clinging vainly and grumpily onto a very detailed set of archaic b******s, irrelevant rules designed to make sure they never need amendment! Discrimination against women is hidden under the guise of chivalry and etiquette, alcohol cannot be enjoyed unless the drinker has a collar attached to his shirt, the once-monthly arm raising session called a mess meeting where we dare not disagree and have to vote on weighty matters such as whether the minutes which we have just had droned at us are a complete and accurate record of the ones we experienced live first time around a. if we were there and b. if we can remember that far back.....  Oh, but its a democracy isn't it?  Is that why there is always a pre-mess meeting where the matters on which I and the rest of the uncaring will obviously agree by more arm raising are decided by the aforementioned control freaks?  More notable votes from recent mess meetings have included whether to raise the cost of tea and toast by 10p, and whether to buy brown wooden or dark brown wooden cases for the mess foyer to display stuff that has languished happily in the mess cellar for years because no-one wanted to look at it in the first place.....  And don't get me started on mess silver!  £10000 for the ugliest, most irrelevant trash ever to have been put in the centre of a table...why can't we have gold for a change?  And when is the only time we get to see our wonderful silver? At one of those stiff, dull affairs we call mess dinners.  Lots of people sitting in exact order of importance (not with their friends of course) forced into small-talk mode and slowly and very privately wetting themselves because they can't go to the b****y toilet!  Yes, we should have separate accommodation from the JRs, but do I have to be a member of this anachronistic 'club' by default just because I got promoted?  Regimental business may well get discussed in the mess (and stay in the mess as the unwritten rule states) but that is done by the career control freaks, the rest of us sort things out at work or on the phone or down the pub, if things are a little normal people  


Book Reviewer
There's quite a lot of truth in that. There is a fairly strong argument for retaining the ritual and the pomp which is associated with Mess life - on the other hand, throughout my service (and I spent 15 years in the Mess), the biggest divide, certainly in German Messes, was between the blockies and the pads - that got positively unpleasant at times.

I hear what you're saying about the cosy pre-meetings and it *was* bloody annoying when the WO1s and their retinues of devoted piss-boys came up with some Jolly Good Ideas and rammed them through - I have, however, seen an RSM and his coterie thoroughly defeated and routed when the dieas they had were clearly nonsensical.

As to Mess dinners - it's actually quite good crack getting dolled up every now and then, especially if the ladies are along as well - I do agree that the piss rule, in particular, is nonsense.

I suppose what I'm groping towards is that the Mess is like democracy in Churchill's quote - the worst thing of all except for all the others.
As a REME, you probably wouldn't understand! ::)

You mention about the monthly arm raising where no-one would dare disagree. Try it, it works, if you feel that strongly about it!

Mess Silver, as regards above statement. You, in some way voted it in! Fill in the book prior to a meeting and it will be brought up. You of all should know that.

Without the Mess's, we would be nothing more than a corporate organisation. Is it not still something for the JNCO's to look forward and up to?

I do agree with some of you sentiments though.

As the old saying goes 'It's your Mess, it's what YOU make it'

(I think you'll find we are in the same Mess too!)
As an addition to the above. I have in the recent past,  noticed that more and more functions (Summer, Christmas) tend to be 'non-formal' affairs.

Why? I spent over £600 for my drinking tracksuit and I want to wear the bloody thing! Plus the missus likes spending half that twice a year on a new frock to feel 'special'.

I know that sounds like a bit of a contradiction to what I previously said (voting in etc). One of the points I do agree with, Stained, is desicions are made without a democratic vote.
Thanks for your comments. The point about mess dress being seen less and less at functions is fair as I too paid out decent money for that thing :)  But if I can bring mess dress and the arm-raising thing together to illustrate a good reason for the futility of disagreeing.... We had a vote a while back about whether mess dress should be worn at the summer ball.  The RSM suggested suits but a brave soul disagreed and was asked to stand up and explain.  He also had paid decent money for his mess dress and was supported in his position by a low moan emanating from the throats of those who agreed with him.  The RSM glared and then pronounced that we should.... you guessed it... vote on it.  This we did.  To all of us it was fairly obvious that  the dissenters had defeated the RSM.  He however must have thought he was on Ready Steady Cook and pronounced the vote to be so close that he should have the casting arm raise.  He and the green peppers won of course and he has probably never forgotten the name of his adversary.....  
Lets face it, who actually reads the propositions book before entering the meeting?  Most of it is low-level admin stuff that I would be happy to have delegated to an action group headed up by the RSM (subject obviously to spending constraints).  Decisions made by the group could be posted in the foyer for seven days prior to a meeting and if anyone disagreed, they could do so on the day. This would give them a decent chance of coming up with a considered alternative rather than trying to do it off the cuff at the meeting.....  But as I said before, I could function just as effectively without ever visiting the mess and still contend that it is anachronistic... so there.... 8)

edited for spelling


I have to say, I can see both sides of the argument here.  I have been in a mess (literally) where the RSM told us at a meeting that he'd just spent £850 on a picture for the mess, he then asked us to vote on whether we wanted it or not - Bloody Cheek!  Unfortunately I wasn't brave enough to vote against him at the time! (A_Lert may remember that one)

I have also been in some cracking messes - Present one is OK, well chilled and friendly.  RSM is a good egg, not a control freak by any stretch - probably why he won't be commisioned. :-/

I personally love the dressing up bit - as long as it's Mess Dress, not a Regimental Dress thing - Don't do the Regimental Embellishment thing (unless they're issued) ;)
I think it really depends on who the RSM is in alot of cases and if there is a strong PMC. As a pair, they can make or break the moral of a Mess.
Not having attained the dizzy heights of being a "grown -up" yet, I visit the mess once once a month for a boring mess meeting during which i amuse myself by voting against things to wind the brown nosers up.  I have some savings plans which cost me the same as my mess bill every month and consider the mess to be a waste of money.  I end up paying £10-15 a month to have a cheap drink occasionally...


What happens in the Mess stays in the Mess.  What a load of pish, that was made up by some spineless tara (not you oh great tara of arrse fame) who was shiote scared to go to the CO and admit his children (mess members) had been naughty.  Recently in a mess well known to me in a far flung outpost, 6 "grown ups had a scrap resulting in a frail old man (Estate Manager) getting a fat lip off 4 assailants, but his excellency the GSM waived the right to compensation by declaring a done deed.  Punishment will be swift he cried, a lengthy ban will hurt them.  

Pish, no mess bills for 6 months, hurrah they cheered.

Pish, what about the victim, unfortunately Army Legal Aid claims for compensation have yet to accept awards by Mess Presidents in the criminal compensation awards sceme.

Pish, it's great to have some Warrant or Staffie cringing as some LCpl RMP knocks him off for assault, oh no my pension,  what shall I plead?
On balance the Mess has been a pleasant surprise for me. I was always a little apprehensive about the old duffers being on home turf and giving all the large ones to a Mess crowbag like me.

However, as with most things, you can soon shape idiots like that into your killing area and strike the lizards with extreme prejudice.

The Mess is cool. You can't touch it. Hussah.


i would have to say that as u all know some messes are good and some are a nightmare, but the old tradition of what happens in the mess stays in the mess in all bo**ocks these days !!   :-/


the northern AAC unit s mess is the most expensive familys club i mean mess ive ever had the missfortune too pay for and was recently told that the reason are mess builds subscriptions have doubled last year is because it is sodexho and not aramark unreal oh and extra messins doubled cos we have bottles of ketchup not satchets

.................its a joke ... i was better off as a full screw paywise
I think that there is a place for the Mess in a modern army, however, I do agree that there are few rules that are archaic within the mess system, however a big part of the problem with the Messes in general is that there are a lot of newer mess members who do not appreciate the ethos and tradition that the mess exemplifies. Unfortunately some mess members regard it as their right to be in the mess rather than a privilege. ::)


The WO's and Sgt's Mess is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago.   The mess is a place where SNCO's can meet on a formal or informal basis to discuss matters that should not be discussed in the presence of junior ranks.  I guess one could equate it to the workforce and middle/senior management.

If you dont like what you see in the mess then there is an avenue where something can get done............The mess meeting.  If you dont have the balls to stand up at mess meetings and discuss the problem then nothing will get done.  The issue of lack of service due to the new civilian contractors is not just restricted to the WO's and  Sgt's mess, its also a major problem in the Officers mess and in other services too...........The RAF also has a real problem with these people.

Basically, if you dont want to be part of the mess then talk to the RSM and I am sure that he/she will be happy to arrange for you to use the NAAFI bar.
I agree wholeheartedly with you KennyR, but also isn't it always those that whinge that the Mess is c**p that never bother to stay after Mess Meetings or use the place on a frequent basis or attend dinner nights or functions. 8)


Hey D, theres no need to apologise.  This is an open forum and if you are still serving you may one day soon be a member of this once exclusive club.  The incidents you speak of should NEVER have happened.  The main reason for opening mouth before engaging brain(guilty on a few occasions) is alcohol.  SNCO's should never drink to excess (and I sure was guilty of that when I was still serving) in anothers Mess because of the tendency to loosen up and say things we might later regret.

If you find that SNCO's are causing trouble or are shooting their mouths off, just call the Orderly Sergeant or Orderly Officer and they will deal with it.

On behalf of all decent SNCO's, world wide, I apologize on behalf of my colleagues.
Nice one Kenny, personally I think that the days of the WO & Sgts Mess are numbered, I feel that it will end up becoming a WO & Officers Mess, maybe it's a sign of the times, or that the line between JNCO and SNCO have become so fuzzy that it almost fades and blends into one. Certainly, in my short time in this mans army, I have seen the rank of Sgt reduced to nothing more than a gloryfied full screw at times. In principle there is nothing wrong the mess, but times have moved on, and like its been said before on this forum the " exclusive " club aint so ! A minor re-vamp is all that is needed - lets try to do it now before its dies .....  :'(
Sorry to say this, but you sound like a bloke who just doesnt fit in, why dont you revert and enjoy a pint in the NAAFI with your ripped up jeans.....or do you not fit in there either. Some of the best nights I have had have been spent in the Mess, maybe I am lucky enough to be in a decent Mess. To finish off, get your self a set of nads, stick your hand in the air with a reasoned argument.
Well, GP if I dont fit then I would say neither does the majority of this Army and I neither own nor wish to own a " pair of ripped jeans". I too have had cracking nights in my mess - I've had cracking nights in NAAFI too. As for a reasoned argument, well the Army is becoming far more technical with SME's often at Cpl/Sgt level, or are you of those SNCO's who will ignore an SME just because he is a JNCO ? Most Mess managers I've spoken to all say the same things the mess cant sustain the way it is being run - society has moved on. If you want an example of this look to pay 2000 - a Cpl with a family and mortage gets promoted he gets a "guarenteed 2% pay rise" add his mess bill, his  drinking suit, medals etc - he is out of pocket. The Army has encouraged its soliders to buy their own property
so, are you going to come into the mess for a drink either having to take a taxi, get the missus to drive or drink OJ all night, be subject to army rules when he can nip to his local, and be joe bloggs dressed how he wants to  ? Most soliders see the army as a job now and not a way of life - why do you think we have a retention problem ? All i'm saying is we can either carry on as dinosaurs - papering over the cracks or do something before it becomes exstint.  ???

Latest Threads