State of the Nation

It’s 3PM and I’m standing in a neatly pressed, starched and pretty damned uncomfortable uniform trying not to move. The Sergeant Major is walking round checking the rank and file… One unlucky sod a couple up from me gets the blunt end of a pace stick rammed against his cap badge, reason unknown. He passes me without comment and I breathe a sigh of relief; too early as it turns out. As the burly Scotsman passes to my rear I feel a sharp pain across my palms;

Straighten your bloody fingers! You’re at ease, not easy!

It’s 1980 and I’m 10 years old.

I attended a military boarding school in Scotland and, from the age of 10, attended drill 3 times a week. We started cadets at about 13 and the drill continued throughout our time at school, increasing during the Summer each year prior to the Grand Day parade where the march past and salute was taken by various dignitaries who, during my time, included Princess Anne, Prince Phillip, the CGS and various others.

It’s 3AM and I’m sitting watching a movie; it’s the end of an era. Just as the end credits start rolling the door opens, a beam of light breaks the tension and Ben Phillip’s baritone cracks into room

I’ll see the gentlemen who ‘stole’ Mr William’s car in my office at 11AM or the police would be involved.

Eight hours later I’m standing outside said office awaiting my just deserts. 6 of the belt later and I’ve got blue bruises and red welts across both my palms and I can’t feel my fingers. Not a good position to be in with my place in the pipe band for the Grand Day parade, especially as we’re getting presented with new colours by the Duke of Edinburgh!

It’s 1987 and, officially, I’ve already finished school.

Between these two tales of ‘hardship’ the world outside has changed. Corporal punishment has been banned, first in England and then in Scotland, but we voted, along with our parents, to retain it as a means of short, sharp, shock or, perhaps worse, the mornings in the gym suffering stress positions, circuits to exhaustion or a simple good old beating (if you weren’t liked).. Better that than the pointless tedium of lines.

Two of my Aunt’s were in education, one a teacher and the other a head teacher, and they both quit once their ability to discipline their students was removed.

During those seven years I’d witnessed the Falkland’s War, the Miner’s Strike and various other forms of conflagration. In each case the ‘trouble’ was met with the force necessary to resolve the situation. In the case of the Malvinas it was the British military who (just) taught the Argentines not to mess with British Sovereign territory; in the case of the miners the police used intimidation and, at times, violence to break the spirits of individuals and pickets.

Over the quarter of a century since these events the strength of our Nation as a whole, and the power of those in positions of responsibility; teachers, police, the military, courts, councils and even the Government, have been continually eroded by those advocating liberal softness in the name of human rights; therefore removing our ability to discipline people or groups as needed.

Education standards have slipped. I have relatives and friends in teaching and I know I’ll rile them by saying this, but they have. Despite the ever increasing amount of A’s and A*’s attained the actual level of education has fallen. Basic knowledge of things like geography, history and RS/RE have fallen to appalling levels, and please don’t get me started on either spoken or written English!

Armed to the teeth. And toothless as ever.

The powers of the police have been eroded to the point where they are unwilling to intervene in situations for fear of recrimination.

The world wide frenzy for the improvement in health and safety and human rights mean that the courts are unable to treat those who break the law in the manner in which they deserve. It’s a sad state of affairs when the Government are forced into improving the lot of our soldiers serving in a conflict overseas because someone has pointed out in the national press that people serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure get more of a phone allowance than those fighting for the nation’s liberty.

ASBOs, curfews, community service, restraining orders. They are all toothless. And they are the reason the events of the last few days were destined to happen.

As long as the British government operates in fear of the European Court of Human Rights, the liberals in our own country and the opinion of the wider international community we will continue to see events as we have in Tottenham, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and other towns and cities in our country.

I’m watching these shameful events from afar in a country which, by rights, has far more reason to rise up and carry out the kind of violence that I am seeing on TV an in the newspapers in the place I call home. It’s abhorrent and someone needs to do something.

As Kenny Everett used to say:

Round ’em up, put ’em in a fields and bomb the bastards!


One thought on “State of the Nation

  1. Grae,

    I love the first paragraph and the memories that it brings flooding back of drill lessons in the sports pavilion with Sergeant Major Deeley. Uncomfortable corduroy uniform chaffing and the lack of any kind of heating in that building. I, too, remember the sting of the pace stick across cold hands.

    I completely agree with what you have written. My wife is a teacher over here in Canada and the Education system here is headed in the same direction but is about 5 – 10 years behind UK. My wife was told, this year, that none of the students would be failed as it sends them a negative message. So here the 12 -14 year olds that she teaches (Junior High School) now think they are entitled to everything without having to study or try to pass exams. I would love to be a fly on the wall when this group go for their first job interviews and find out just how un-entitled they are. Anyway I could rant on about this for hours but I won’t.

    I enjoy reading your blogs. Have fun out in Kenya and take care.


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