Whilst cooking the supper tonight ( pasta with a strange array of left-overs) I happened to watch various bits of "Carry on up the Khyber".
I know it's sexist, homophobe, non-pc in every way, but it does tell a deeper truth.
In case you don't know, the story revolves around the 1st Foot and Mouth, known as the Devils in Skirts. Their fighting prowess is predicated on the fact they wear no undergarments, and the Burpas ( clearly Afghan warriors) are cowed by this until a photograph emerges showing the troops wearing woollen knickers. The attack on the Residency of Sir Ruff Diamond ( Sid James) is only halted when the troops are lined up, made to show that they do NOT wear such things, and the tinted people run away ( Quote from Kenneth Williams " Stop! Stop! There's nothing to be afraid of ! ( pause) .. OOh I dunno though")
But what is the deeper truth?
Captain Keen ( Roy Castle) plays a deadpan straight as a die upstanding stiff upper lip officer, calm under every onslaught. His sergeant (Terry Scott) is the archetypal bullying tough but fair martinet. His best line is " You've only got one thing to be afraid of, and that's ME! And I'm right behind ya!"
Peter Butterworth's final line " They're all barking mad you know" sums it up perfectly.
Although the film even at the time was poking fun at what was perceived as our out of touch Services, in fact it actually showed how good we used to be.
I have no intention of embarking on hand-wringing about the recent pathetic episode in the Gulf.
I do know there are millions who regard our present impotence with disdain and disgust. That's what you get when there is no political will, and no strategy laid down.
I would take you back to when the Embassy in Djakarta was stormed by rioters in the '60s. They were met not by a hail of bullets.
There were met by a lone piper - the Ambassador, Gilchrist by name, who dared them to capture or shoot him - or anyone else for that matter..
He played until every one of the invaders left.Then he packed up his pipes and attended an official dinner.