all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

07 March, 2011

Revised Scenes from History, Nº 1

Were People in the Great War As Enlightened As Modern Folk

[An officer, in a clean, well-tailored uniform, saunters into a filthy trench, somewhere near Passchendaele, in 1917, shortly before a scheduled attack.]
Sergeant:  Officer present! Attention! Sah!
Occupational Health & Safety Officer:  At ease, men; standing to attention is bad for the back. Ah, good, those ladders seem well placed and properly supported.  Now are your weapons nice and safe?  Ammunition safely put away?
Sergeant:  Sah, yes, sah!
Occupational Health & Safety Officer:  You, Private—
Sergeant:  Hatkins, sah!
Occupational Health & Safety OfficerAh, Atkins, is your bayonet clean? We don’t want an enemy to catch a nasty infection.
Pvt. Hatkins:  Clean, sir, and sharp, sir!
Occupational Health & Safety Officer:  Sharp?  Sharp!
Sergeant:  Well-honed, sah, razor-edged, ὀξύς, acutus
Occupational Health & Safety Officer:  Yes, yes, I know.  Are any other bayonets similarly sharpened, Sergeant?
Sergeant:  Why, all of them are, of course, sah.  We must all be keen, and I always keep a sharp look-out, sah!
Occupational Health & Safety OfficerBut we can’t have that—someone may get hurt!   Dull these bayonets immediately!
[After a few seconds of stunned immobility, a few of the soldiers begin to strike their bayonets against rocks.]
Occupational Health & Safety OfficerHey, what are you doing? Stop!  That’s dangerous!  Someone could put out an eye!
Pvt. Hatkins:  We have no proper tools with us here, sir.
Occupational Health & Safety OfficerSergeant, I leave it to you to ensure that these men dull their bayonets, and safely; but I don’t want to hear that you’ve been shouting at them.  It could harm their hearing, and it lowers their self-esteem.  I, meanwhile, have an appointment to meet Field-Marshall Haig; I must talk to him about this foolhardy practice of firing artillery shells.  Farewell, men.
[The officer departsThe men murmur and mutter.]
Sergeant:  All right, shaarp, you lot; you heard the officer, we need to devise a tool to blunt the bayonets.
Pvt. Hatkins:  How, Sarge?
Sergeant:  Men, form a file.

1 comment:

nige said...

Health and safety is not a laughing matter in the British Army. A cousin in the tank regiment took a pocket geiger counter with him to the Iraq war. Not to be safe from Saddam's mythical WMD, mind you, just to avoid too much irradiation from the depleted uranium munitions stocked in his tank. They don't make soldiers like they used to.