For some people, merely ‘doing their bit’ is simply not enough. They simply cannot help but inflate their otherwise honourable service and thus wreck any credibility they have. It’s a sad state of affairs, and one strangely connected with slop jockeys.
Take Steve Houston for example. An ex-ranker who did nine years in the RAF in the 1980s. All very respectable… but somehow not enough. Steve (aptly aged 49), of South Kirkby near Wakefield, decided that mere SAC didn’t quite have the same ring to it as Air Commodore, so time for a spot of promotion - and just in time to take the salute at South Kirkby's 2006 remembrance parade. Nice one Steve, shit and doorsteps spring to mind!
So successful was the walting operation that Steve nipped up to Ayrshire, Scotland for a repeat performance in 2007. The following year saw Steve up to his old tricks again – this time in Wales, again taking the salute. He also read the service – as befitting a retired Air Commodore.
Slight snag: he’d been bubbled by that bastion of walt-outing the Sunday Mail the previous year and various people at the event smelled something farmyard-like. Ex-Royal Welsh Fusilier Ian Davis said: ‘He boasted about who he was, what he'd done and where he'd been. But there were quite a few ex-military there and we started asking questions he could not answer.’
Sean Griffiths, a former Regimental Sergeant Major, added: ‘I knew he wasn't RAF immediately - they are notoriously well groomed and this guy was like a tramp.' Devilish perception Holmes, however perfectly in-keeping with RAF slop jockeys!
Poor Steve didn’t help himself by failing to stick to the very basics of walting. For one he picked a UN beret as his headwear of choice. Now that’s going to make you stand out big time – and encourage all manner of potentially awkward questions from the bemused, intrigued and generally nosey.
Stan & The People's Princess
To make matters worse Steve dug himself even deeper in to the walt pit by wearing fake medals. He also handed out fake UN business cards and told people he had served in the Falklands, both Gulf Wars, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Like yer do! He also claimed to have accompanied Princess Diana's body back from Paris in 1997... like yer don’t!
The president of the South Kirkby Royal British Legion Eddie Robinson said he was shocked to discover the man who took the salute at a local remembrance parade was an imposter posing as a war hero. He added: ‘I didn't know he was an imposter until last week. It was quite a shock because he seemed very genuine. If he is posing as a RAF or UN officer then it should be down to the RAF and UN to investigate. He has been into the club since playing pool. He said he had been away on UN business.’
Not on the List
The RAF confirmed no-one by the name of Steve Houston had ever reached the rank of Air Commodore or any similar rank. Surprise surprise! Had the RBL bothered with a basic London Gazette search then they could have bubbled the clown virtually instantly. A different (and trusting) generation I suppose?
Even the United Nations had their say, a spokeswoman saying Houston had ‘No right to wear the uniform or beret’. She also said impersonating an officer was ‘a serious offence’. A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said: ‘He is an imposter and his sheer presence at remembrance services throughout the UK is an insult to all those who gave their lives for us who we remember.’