The Listening Rank


I can hardly hear myself shout.
I must put my pipe down, pipe down,
and shine my tongue until you can
see my face in it. There. This is
a tight ship. If a jibís worth doing,
itís worth doing properly. Boom
boom. Show me your butt. Utterly
frightful. Your magazine is filled
with seditious articles. You will go
soft in the helmet. Put your ear to
this shell. Bang. Can you understand
to attention? I will put the roar
into recruit. Shoot. I am as deaf
as the last post, as a drum, as a dodo.
Gun. Standstill. I will give you a clip.

[February 2001]

From the book Make Mine a Double

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the Armed Forces Chief, told The Sunday Telegraph: "People are more fearful about shouting at people, telling them to do a job properly, clipping them round the ear from time to time."