Sunday, 17 May 2015

Where Prince Harry can stick his National Service...

Bleary eyed, I read the morning headlines and saw that Prince Harry believes we should bring back National Service. Even half asleep, I could immediately spot the problem with this bleary brained nonsense.

His argument is based on the fact that he believes he would have 'gone off the rails' if it hadn't been for the army. Let's assume that it's true and that youthful Harry would have become even more synonymous with having a good time than he's already become. Yet isn't it a bit of an overreaction and just a mite selfish to force the entire nation into conscription just to keep him off the front pages of the tabloids?

And since when should the rest of us measure our worth on the slightly bent would-be ruler that is Prince Harry? I never went off the rails. I imagine quite a few of you who read this blog didn't go off the rails. In fact, I'd guess that most people didn't come even close to going off the rails in their youth. So why the hell should we be stuck doing laps on a parade ground simply to save the skin of some thick necked Palace dodo?

What worries me more is what National Service would have done to me. Oh, I like to think that I'd have taken to it like the proverbial water-bound duck. Inside a month I'd have been leaping from aircraft with a dagger between my teeth and a backpack full of fury. The reality, I think, is that it would have broken me. If I hadn't become 'Private Pyle' in Full Metal Jacket, complete with the 1000 yard stare, I'd have just gone off the rails, which is precisely what the experience of army life was supposed to save me from. I'd have rebelled and caused myself all kinds of grief. So, whilst Prince Harry would be enjoying rugby (a game I detest) with the lads, I'd have been trying to climb the electrified fence or caught trying to flee into Belgium or some much more enlightened country where I could just go sit in a corner with a coffee and a good book.

Not that there's any chance of National Service coming back but we do have a government led by a leader who has repeatedly proven that he's not immune to dumb ideas thrown casually into the public domain by celebrities. Given that the government have a problem with the size of the army and that they're never above forcing people into cheap labour, I'd be slightly worried if you are young and the thought of living in barracks appals you. Or perhaps they'll just make it a condition of entry into the UK. You can come in but you have to do three years in the military. Inside a couple of years, we'd have armed the entire youth of Eastern Europe who would turn on us and take the country by force...

These are crazy days filled with stupid ideas. National Service begins to look sensible compared to the breakup of the Union, petitions for the North of England to join with Scotland, and Britain leaving the EU.

There's just too much madness about today and I've not even finished having my breakfast.



  1. Be fair, a lad brought up on an estate and at taxpayers expense like Harry is just the kind of young man that could easily have gone off the rails.
    He isn't the first person to recommend bringing back national service but he's certainly the youngest person I've known to do so. I can't help suspect that his experience of military life wasn't one most enlistees would recognise either. I doubt he was ever in true danger, I could just be being cynical there however.

  2. That's a fair point. Just how authentic was the Harry experience in the army? I keep looking at him and thinking: is he really of that very small percentage of recruits who are chosen to fly in the Apache? I mean, isn't it like being a fighter pilot: the best of the best? Was he really that? He makes it sound like everybody who joins up will have his experience when the truth is probably going to involve peeling spuds and being canon fodder in one of the world's many shitholes. Or was he just stuck in the back seat of an Apache because it was about the safest place for him? Can't help but join you in your cynicism.