Sunday, 9 November 2014



The nation's go-to sombre hypocrite and life-member of the PBC.

 Good evening, viewers, and this is me, Huw Welshman, in mellifluous but respectful tones, always respectful, look you, isn't it, bringing you all the hits from this year's bash, where celebrities like Her Majesty and myself almost rub shoulders with you, the very ordinary people who serve us so well, indeed, were it not for the license fee we'd be fucked, only not as fucked as those relying on charity for their plastic  legs, arms and wotsanames, not as fucked as they are, celebrating their amputations, in their wheelchairs, pretending that they're mates with wotsisname,  the pisshead, Harry, is it?


But never mind all that. We gotta  great show lined-up for you, to-night, folks. There'll  be lots of marching, up and down and round and round.  Lots, too, of shimmering electronic effects, 

better, I daresay, than anything they saw on the Somme;  there'll be loads, simply loads of army widows and mothers fighting back the tears.  There'll be bands.  Good Queen Brenda is here, 

with her old man and her heirs and successors and their successors too. 

The nation's premier crime family assembles to honour the proles. 

No, no, we won't run out of them, which, if I may say so, is a very good thing.

There'll  be lots of fine uniforms, 

flags  and more than a sprinkling of gibbering homicidal Ruperts, yes, Rear Admirals and that sort of chap, all reading prayers for us; yes, I know, beyond satire, but that's showbusiness. But just you watch, it'll all be so good that by the end of it we'll all be thinking, Wow, let's have another war, eh, this is great stuff. Steady, the Buffs;  Ready, Steady, Wootton Bassett, that sort of thing.

It's a long way to the eleck-shun,
it's a long way to-o-o go.

I do believe that the unelected prime minister is here, too, yes, with his good lady wife, Samantha, isn't it,  proper Tory Totty, look you, and he's taken time off from cooking the Eurobooks  and shitting himself over the Poundlanders in order to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in this  whatever it is, is this the Olympics, no? Right, got it, it's a hundred years of the PBC.  No? Right, of course. Just a little autocue problem, there.  Yes, yes, of course I care about what I'm reading-out-loud every day. Yes, it's our solemn showbiz recruitment drive, we do it every year, glorifying  war.  Now, some viewers may take exception to that, thinking that what we are about, look you, is seeing that none of this dying and amputations shit happens again but of course it's nothing like that. And I would go so far to say that war is probably the very best branch of showbusiness to report on.  Not to be in, of course, but even if you are lucky enough pay the ultimate sacrifice....wossat???....yes, I know, it's make the ultimate sacrifice or pay the ultimate price, of course I know that, but nobody watching knows the fucking difference, do they, not now, everybody's fucking stupid, why else do you think they're watching this cynical tripe, believing that anybody, anywhere, gives a fuck about some Geordie leaving his arms on some corner of a foreign field.  Fuck him, he can manage without 'em, as His Royal Harriness has shown. But as I was saying, if you are lucky enough to make the ultimate price, at least you know that every November some prat, just like me'll be here, pretending to remember you. And who knows, soldiers and soldieresses, with  a fair wind to Syria or Iraq in the near future maybe next year it'll be your Mum or your Mrs  or girlfriend or partner or ex-Mrs bravely fighting back the tears, another star in bereavement's Happy Showbiz Heaven;  might even be your Mrs being clapped-down the stairs, as have been so many lucky contestants tonight.

Anyway, it's simply flown past, this show, and it only remains for us to join in that one final hymn.


Whilst seeking any opportunity to improve his miserable national stature, the leader of the former Labour party pretends to remember those whose lives his party squandered for the greater glory of its then leader. 

Tony'n'Imelda Blair, a pair of GlobaDeath's major shareholders, do the Remembrance Shuffle.



I came across a book of literary treasure, The Rambling Soldier, edited by Roy Palmer, Life in the lower ranks 1750-1900, through soldiers' songs and writings.   

It is just what it says, rerflections on the lives  of the common sapper or gunner or rifleman, no Hornblower heroics, no Sharpe-led rebellions, just,  between tales of Duties & Amusements, the Barracks, the Drums, the March,  just harsh drill,
sudden death  and short rations,  all told in a surprisingly engaging  style by common men we had long assumed barely literate miscreants, drunks and felons. 

I would love to here reprint it all, so touching are its anecdotes and remembrances, so real, so sensible. I shouldn't be  so surprised, for I have in my possession many brief but eloquent  hand-writings by men gassed at Ypres or wounded by shrapnel at Gallipoli, bayonetted at Verdun, all survivors, obviously, at least for a while but I had underestimated the  education of the servicemen of the seventeen and eighteen-hundreds.

Here is one to be going on with, a personal account of the Charge of the Light Brigade by  JW Wightman, who rode with the 17th Lancers, introducing which Palmer contrasts Wightman's dry account with that of the nincompoop scribbler Tennyson 

and his talk of  cannons to right of them, cannons to left of them, volleying  and thundering  and of other contemporary professional writers wittering about  four hundred soldiers bequeathing their lives away in a fatal valley enriched with English blood. You can just hear Huw Welshman, made-up, coiffed, scripted  and poppied-up spewing out this rubbish.
Wightman's sentiments, says Palmer, were much less grandiose. 
And he was there.  

We had not broke into the charging pace when poor old John Lee, my right-hand man on the flank of the regiment, was all but smashed by a shell; he gave my arm a twitch, as with a strange smile on his old face he quietly said, "Domino, chum," and fell out of the saddle. His old grey mare kept alongside of me for some distance, treading on and tearing out her entrails as she galloped until at length she dropped with a strange shriek. I have mentioned that my comrade, Peter Marsh, was my left-hand man; next beyond him was Private Dudley.  The explosion of a shell had swept down four or five men on Dudley's left and I heard him ask Marsh if he had noticed "what a hole that b----- shell had made on his left front."
 " Hold your foul-mouthed tongue," answered Peter, " swearing like a blackguard, when you may be knocked into eternity next minute!"

Just then I got a musket bullet through my right knee and another  in my shin and my horse had three bullet wounds in the neck.  Man and horse were bleeding so fast that Marsh begged me to fall out;  but I would not, pointing out that in a few minutes we must be into them and so I sent my spurs well in and faced it out with my comrades. It was about this time that Sergeant Talbot had his head clean carried off by a roundshot, yet for about thirty yards further this headless body kept the saddle with the lance still at the charge, still firmly gripped under the right arm. My narrative may seem barren of incidents but amid the crash of shells and the whistle of bullets, the cheers and the dying cries of comrades, the sense of personal danger, the pain of wounds and the consuming passion to reach an enemy, he must be an exceptional man who is cool enough and curious enough to be looking serenely abouit him for what painters call 'local colour.'
I had a good deal of 'local colour' myself, but it was running down the leg of my overalls from my wounded knee.

Wightman survived Balaclava, being captured and treated by the Russians. 

 Unlike the Charge of the Light Brigade, Iraq and Afghanistan are yet to be properly located on the national BlunderScale, are yet, despite all the evidence to the contrary, deemed heroic military achievements and not the ghastly, costly, pointless bloody fuck-ups we all know them to be and it is in this wicked, martial  obfuscation that Huw Welshman and his masters so enthusiastically engage, assisted, sad to say, by those who, better than any, should know the truth.

This is the PBC, acting not, for a change,  as Nonce Protector General but as Recruiting Sergeant for GlobaCorp's Armies4Hire, shame on them, the PBC, could they but feel shame. BAFTAs all around. Or prosthetic limbs.

In Palmer's collection, the recurring bete noire is the Recruiting Sergeant.  Not as crass and savage as the Navy's Press Gangs which stalked coastal - and some inland - towns, stealing  away hapless  men to rum, sodomy and the lash, the Recruiting Sergeant deployed guile and false sympathy to ensnare perfectly  worthy young men who had become estranged from family or were temporarily not at trade or on the farm,  deluding and dragging them into years of ill-paid and dangerous service, often death. Fuck 'em all, recruiting sergeants.

 Fuck all sergeants, actually. I have seen a few of those Army training series recently, where insane, fucked-up, vicious, queer NCOs toy with young recruits, 

making them into proper men,  speaking that bollockstalk of the seasoned squaddie, no training period complete unless Tommy has, like his NCOs,
 covered his musculature with homo-erotic tattoos. Arseholes, all of them, I watched one nutter recruit trying, time and again,  to run on a broken leg, in order to prove himself, to live up to the macho-fuckwittery of his NCOs.
Not in my name, sonny; spare yourself the delusions, you do this shit for people you never even heard of, people living in California and Switzerland;  never in my lifetime has Tommy protected me from anything. And if Ahmed comes I'll kill him myself, with my bare hands.

These eejits would do well to read and sense the temper of their predecessors at arms, instead,  they walk about like Zombie extras in a  Clint Eastwood movie, calling each other Ladies.

It works, though, doesn't it, all the regurgitated bullshit, enough young men and now young women enlist; some shrewd enough to wangle the trade training without the overseas posting and learning some very valuable civvy street skills plus earning a good pension, many, though, are as distraught and eternally bewildered by the loss of a limb as was the lancer at Balaclava. The rest of us have fumed impotently at the doings of Blair and Brown and Ainsworth and Reid and Straw and Howard as they have traded boys in bodybags for their own perqs and pensions.
They also serve who only stand and steal, eh?

Although not in Palmer's book, Arthur MacBride and the Recruiting Sergeant is a military song of some vintage, relating a happier than usual outcome,  when Paddy meets HM Company Sergeant.

Maestro Paul Brady's reputation as one of our army of dazzling guitar finger-stylists rests partly on this song and although it is probably better enjoyed and understood without this added videotrack, the images are a happy antidote to last night's gruesome revery. 
And perhaps not quite as false. 

Arthur McBride lyrics and chords print version

Oh me [G]and my cousin one [Em]Arthur McBride
As we [C]went a-wal[G]king down [Am]by the sea[C]side,
Now [G]mark what [C]followed and [G]what did [Em]betide
For it [G]being on Christmas morn[D]ing.
And [G]for recreation we [Em]went on a tramp
And we met [C]Sergeant Nap[G]per and [Am]Corporal [C]Cramp.
And the li[G]ttle wee [C]drummer in[G]tending to [Em]camp
For the [G]day being pleasant and cha[D]rming[G].
“Good morning, good morning” the Sergeant did cry.”
“And the same to you gentlemen,” we did reply
Intending no harm as we meant to pass by
For it being on Christmas morning.

But says he “My fine fellows if you will enlist
It’s ten guineas in gold I will slip in your fists
And a crown in the bargain for to kick up the dust
And drink the King’s health in the morning.
For a soldier he leads a very fine life
And he always is blessed with a charming young wife,
And he pays all his debts without sorrow and strife
And always lives pleasant and charming.
And a soldier he always is decent and clean
In the finest of clothing he’s constantly seen
While other poor fellows look dirty and mean
And sup on thin gruel in the morning.”

Says Arthur, “I wouldn’t be proud of your clothes
For you’ve only the lend of them, as I suppose,
And you dare not change them one night for you know
If you do you’ll be flogged in the morning.
And although that we are single and free,
We take great delight in our own company
And we have no desire strange faces to see
Although that your offers are charming.
And we have no desire to take your advance,
All hazards and dangers we barter on chance.
For you would have no scruples for to send us to France
Where we would get shot without warning.”

“Oh no,” says the Sergeant, “I’ll have no such chat
And I neither will take it from spalpeen or brat
For if you insult me with one other word
I’ll cut off your heads in the morning.”
And then Arthur and I we soon drew our odds
And we scarce gave them time for to draw their own blades
When a trusty shillelagh came over their heads
And bade them take that as fair warning.
And their old rusty rapiers that hung by their sides
We flung them as far as we could in the tide
“Now take them out, devils,” cried Arthur McBride,
“And temper their edge in the morning.”

And the little wee drummer we flattened his pouch
And we made a football of his rowdy dow dow
Threw it in the tide for to rock and to roll
And bade it a tedious returning.
And we having no money, paid them off in cracks
And we paid no respect to their two bloody backs,
But we lathered them there like a pair of wet sacks
And left them for dead in the morning.

And so to conclude and to finish disputes
We obligingly asked if they wanted recruits,
For we were the lads who would give them hard clouts
And bid them look sharp in the morning.
Oh me and my cousin one Arthur McBride
As we went a-walking down by the seaside,
Now mark what followed and what did betide
For it being on Christmas morning.


Bungalow Bill said...

Oh if only. That, though, is all that's needed: the wit and courage which are always there within the cannon fodder, and the knowledge that they can have their freedom whenever they choose with a well-aimed kick. All that's needed but the centuries pass and still we wait. Makes an old Marxist quite wistful.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ishmael,
I don't know where my previous comment went about being TOTALLY in tune with your opening salvo but this was where it should be.
I have now read your article and agree with the sentiment.
I also note you seem to like a bit of individual "retribution".
Why Blair hasn't been "suicided" yet is a great mystery to me.


Alphons said...

They all want stringing up.
It is the ultimate outcome of a system that does not "section" any one who seeks power.
(though up to a point it makes one worry about "the meek inheriting the earth")

Doug Shoulders said...

Anyone would think the royals need blood sacrifice to perpetuate their reign. And we’re taught that the grass skirt wearers in bongo bongo land are barbaric.
I notice every PBC employee in front of the camera is wearing a poppy. Remembrance day right?
Maybe they remember what the last tommy said… about not wanting to kill other blokes fighting for a criminal state ..same as me.

jgm2 said...

Growing up in the 1970s and 19080s I don't recall this huge public display of remembrance at all. There's be the pictures from the cenotaph of the old boys from WWI filing past in their tens of thousands. Then, as now for the WWI veterans, it suddenly tailed off in a rush as they hit their 80s and 90s.

Ironic that we're 'celebrating' the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of WWI that we still have pricks like Gove telling us that the men who died in WWI did so for 'our freedom'. When any fule kno they died because Queen Victoria's grand-kids couldn't think of anything else to do except have a huge fucking war to try and expand their individual colonial empires and impoverish the whole of fucking Europe.

There is a poem 'In Flander's Fields' but it is also the title of a book (by Leon Wolff published in 1959 - I had to look it up) which I think I lent to a friend and haven't seen since. The author describes how he tried desperately to find any rationale at all for the war. Talking to many survivors who were, at the time, still alive. And he could find nobody who had the slightest fucking idea what they were doing, what the goals were, what 'victory' would look like. He details the yanks (before they joined in) tearing their hair out trying to get the various protagonists to state their terms so a peace could be brokered.

It was just fucking madness.

The greatest failure of diplomacy in history.

And for pricks like Gove to present it as anything else - can only because he realises that the true lesson of WWI is that the British government and military hierarchy are totally incompetent c*unts. Happy to send Johnny Conscript marching into the machine guns for no fucking reason at all other than 'looking busy'.

Doug Shoulders said...

Interesting that they couldn't wait four years to celebrate the end of WW1. But instead have to commemorate commencement of the festivities.
What undoubtedly will not be brought to the public consciousness are the statistics of the first proper mechanical extermination. The thousands expanded in a single day on a single piece of land. Etc.
S'why if you want to remain a meat eater; never look into the mechanism of the slaughterhouse industry. And they never show you it.
Holy shit...if you'd seen it you'd never eat a burger again.

Alphons said...

"Doug Shoulders said...

Interesting that they couldn't wait four years to celebrate the end of WW1. But instead have to commemorate commencement of the festivities." over look the fact that another festival of "grief" can be held in four years time...and take another collection.

call me ishmael said...

I stopped the burger-eating and, funniest thing, I didn't feel quite so bad thinking about Teacher Mcguire's seven knife wounds. I had imagined myself into her position and how impossibly dreadful it must have all felt, such shocking, violating pain, such swiftly dawning, fatal sorrow and I thought, well, at least there'll be no other creatuers stabbed and bled and gutted just so's I can eat them.

There's an opening line in one of those Flanders poems, isn't there, what passing bells for those who die as cattle?

call me ishmael said...

It was, indeed, mr jgm2, whatever legions of whore-pundits say, a case of Kaiser Willy playing boats in his bath, only for real, against his cousin, George. He was a dangerous, inbred nutter, like Brian and his tribe of gormless wankers, Wills and Harry and now another fucking George.

I only ever knew one of the old boys and fifty years after the war had ended his life was still ruined.

Be it For Queen and Country or No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish, it is the same vile, monarchical nationalism, the same dear old battlefield, on which we slay each other, rather than our tormentors.

call me ishmael said...

Something about Brady's folk music, mr bungfalow bill, which is always uplifting, while remaining locked into the Great Struggle. Maybe he's one of your wounded souls. There is a great version, on here, somewhere, a few years back, of his Lakes of Pontchartrain, an American Civil War song of hospitality and of resignation to an unrequited love. When you have ten minutes.

call me ishmael said...

It caught me, too, that notion that there wouild be just one year of this war showbiz.

I have a collection of WW1 stuff, writings, books, prints, 'photos, books and so on, some of it written in the trenches and I was thinking of putting it in auction, this would be a good time but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, don't know why, maybe it was noble, maybe it was just lazy, anyway, I said to mrs ishmael, well, we've missed that opportunity, now. ah, but, she said, there'll be another one along in three years, and there will. Just as you say, mr alphons.

jgm2 said...

The same book, Mr I, details how, for every boat taking men and supplies of ammunition and food for the men, there would be another boat taking horses and bales of hay for the horses. They read out the dead at the kid's remembrance service yesterday. Amongst them were two from the local village - 'Shoeing smith xxxx', 'Shoeing smith yyyy'.

Fifty years previously, during the American civil war, they had machine guns and cannon and industrialised slaughter yet in 1914 the British generals were still working with Napoleonic tactics. A highland charge (well, not a charge - undisciplined conscripts, you see, not professionals - got to keep the men together - just have them walk) through the enemy ranks, break the line and then let the cavalry burst through and win the battle.

The tank, in preliminary proofs of concept only deployed in swampy conditions so that it bogged down. And failed. Proof that it wouldn't work and so vindicate sticking to the tried and tested tactics of Wellington.

Politicians deliberately holding up reinforcements purely as a means of stopping Haig from simply sending them over the top to be machine-gunned too.

I think one lesson belatedly learned was that perhaps, rather than allowing officers to buy their commission, they might want to see if there were some natural leaders and tacticians buried in the other 99% or so of the population.

One lesson not learned is that politicians don't give a fuck how many of their own voters get killed and on what pointless pretext as long as they're the ones pulling the strings.

A lesson not lost on that c*unt Blair.

call me ishmael said...

In its way, the machine gun was every bit as shocking as the atomic bomb, in numerical terms, much worse. And yet the Ruperts of the day, mr doug shoulders, threw hundreds of thousands at her muzzles.

I briefly knew someone who'd commanded a machine gun posisition in the Korean fighting and he cracked-up, telling of how the North Korean/Chink conscripts, who had one rifle between ten of them, just kept on coming, kept charging his machine gun, weaponless, and he just kept on shooting them, throwing barrels in the snow, to cool them down.

I wasn't sure if I was more sorry for him or his targets, I'm still not.

call me ishmael said...

I am always surprised, given their historical lack of distinction and their uselessness, by how many Rupert's we still manage to employ, by how we listen to their empty, gibbering pratings. I can think of Clive, Wellington and Montgomery who can at least claim some greatness, there are other names I know of, Marlborough, Alanbrooke, Slim but I know only their names and not their deeds; though well-known, Haig is infamous. There are some who attribute organisational and strategic greatness to WW1 Ruperts but the truly great thing would have been to mutiny, against the British government and monarchy but instead they saw their men slaughtered to no distinguishable purpose, save the planting of seeds for a Second Great War.

Some of the 1939 German Blitzkrieg, mr jgm2, was conducted by troops on horseback, most of the Polish Army was on horsewback, on all sides, the generals, it seems, were fighting Peninsular wars, as though Gettysburg and Shiloh and Atlanta had never happened. In Helmand, they have treated the battleground as though it were Belfast or Londonderry, as though Ahmed was rather like Paddy, but with a teatowel around his head.

The Ruperts I see on the box, I wouldn't trust them to walk Harris and bring him back safely, never mind fight a war.

No need, by the way, to asteriskise that cunt, Blair, not here, anyway; you must have been frequenting the more prissy end of CyberStreet.

d said...

Not from me Mr Alphons. I don't watch and I don't contribute. Nor to the children n' need crapola that approaches.
I am a pariah of the environs when these things take place.

It is a dear place to some, those fields, mr Ish, where the common muckers of Europes' blood was spilled. I have never visited and wouldn't.
A tramp around Culloden moor is enough to discourage... it’s no walk in the park. That place is eerie enough and over 270 years away. But as has been mentioned the “tactics” were the same

Doug Shoulders said...

Site is working well mr Ish. Cept when I make a fuck-up of the simple action of placing a comment.

call me ishmael said...

i was there, just last week, Culloden; never sure what to think mr d, was it us and them or us and us; the latter, I guess, the Kings, Dukes and Princes the only victors.

call me ishmael said...

Nothing easy about CyberStreet, mr doug shoulders. If one writes in Word and then pastes at least when the comment crashes and burns it can be re-posted but that simple as it sounds, is a pain, too.

Anonymous said...

The "poppies in the moat" each represent a dead man. Why not replace them by 900,000 skulls? See how caring and reflective the politicians and royals would look, "paying their respects" to the sea of skulls they made and add to year by year.
It's an easier scam to run when there are paper flowers on the ground; bloodstained skulls to the horizon might stop people fighting in battles and we can't have that.

Doug Shoulders said...

And Bessie wading through them all..Mine all Mine... next sacrifice to Moloch will be of virgin blood.
I'd laugh if it wasn't so dreary

ThomasBHall said...

I have the same book. Excellent stuff, and yes, those recruiting sargeants were (are) bastards.
I was in the Army cadets when I was younger (went on to the OTC, and the TA as it happens), and I always remember the boys who expressed interest in a career (ha!) in the regular army had special attention from the adult "officers", encouraging them to follow through with their ideas to go off and shoot johnny foreigner. I remember at the time finding it a bit cheap, but I enjoyed playing at soldiers (and I guess somewhere still do) so put up with it.
I rememebr another time in the cadets I met Harry Patch (some RBL event opening or something), and knowing what I do now about what he felt about the war, I can't really see why he let himself be pushed around as some sort of trophy to inspire the future "defenders" of our land. This was probably 12 years ago now.
This is the first year I am deliberately not wearing a poppy; seeing those awful excuses for humans wearing them has put me off.

Doug Shoulders said...

"I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.

War is organized murder, and nothing else."
-Harry Patch

It's a pity this man was not heard by more people.