Squaddies On Parade

Makes you wonder about that James Blunt lad doesn't it? Nice young man, sings like a girl. You're beautiful, all that nonsense. Entirely objectionable, at least musically speaking.
Yep, you've got him by now.

Sings like a girl... Actually, this might make more sense than first appears: a 'beasting' maybe, a 'hazing'. Maybe you thought these were entirely the domain of American High School movies. Well maybe you thought wrong, my friend!
Widely reported today is a pretty amusing camera-phone video taken at Bickleigh Barracks, near Plymouth in Devon: see here. If you didn't see the full video, take a gander at the Guardian's fairly jovial description: "All are naked save for one man in a surgeon's scrubs and one wearing a schoolgirl uniform"; "Other rituals which have come to light include "babooning" in which the backsides of new soldiers are beaten until they are as red as baboons' bottoms".

Squaddies eh? As we've thought, this bunch of budding sensitive singer songwriters (to coin an alliterative phrase) are possibly not the sharpest tools in the kit: I'm all for antics, me, but wrapping sleeping mats around your arms while naked and walloping your mate then getting karate kicked out cold doesn't really sound my cup of tea. I come from a barracks town, and although it's not as chaotic as your average Northern night out (I have a deepseated fear of Hull, for example - completely unjustified, never been there), the town centre can occasionally become ugly, depending on the locales you wish to frequent.
I can't get my head around this sort of approach to life at all, but then again maybe I'm looming nearer to sensitive James Blunt territory than I thought (as I typed that, I got a shudder going top to bottom). I don't really know his story, I have no desire to research it, but maybe he ditched the army because he realised that he wasn't a enough of a knucklehead to succeed in a career where apparently you can advance by showing less initiative than other people, where you earn the respect of your peers by drinking more than them, or taking more beatings than them, or being less intelligent than them.

The BBC says the battalion is off to Pakistan soon, to show their caring, sharing side, which is interesting. The army, while condemning this sort of behaviour, also makes a point of saying that some sort of, lets say, self-imposed discipline is neccessary in order to train people for war situations. How this helps giving humanitarian aid in Pakistan, remains to be seen. So basically, the higher ranks are semi-condoning this sort of behaviour while the outside world looks on in disgust. Inevitably, those in the army will be looking at the coverage like we have no idea what army life is like, we've got no right judging them on our own set of principles. Haven't we? Really? Strikes me as a fairly straightforward case.

But what do I know eh? Anyway, top marks as usual to Fark.com for their take on it: "The first rule of Royal Marine naked fight club is you do NOT talk about Royal Marine naked fight club".

Be safe folks, and remember: stay out of Willesden!

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