Friday, 19 September 2014
Ah well, Scotland, you had the chance to set out on a great new adventure… and you chose to sit back on yer arse for more of the same. But every cloud, as they say and this whole Caledonian Carnival reminded me of a story, back in the day, of a new commanding officer being appointed to the Black Watch. Typical of our imperial past the officer, although Scots in name, was as English as could be; a graduate of Eton and Oxford and just the sort of toff the Scots would treat to their world-renowned dour disdain.
On his first day in Command, Lt Colonel Hamish McTavish-Smith, later to become Lt Col Sir Hamish McTavish-Smith, decided to get to know the regiment. He called in his senior non-commissioned officers for what he described as “a bit of a chin-wag, what?” and settled the three in his inner office. “Jolly good to meet you all, “ he began, “I thought we ought to get to know each other.” He beamed and said “I’ll go first,” and began a well-rehearsed account of his life and service to date. The NCOs glanced at each other with weary and wary eyes and awaited their turn.
“So, Company Sergeant Major, er..?”
“McCoy, Sirr!” He sat to attention
Startled by the vociferousness of the response, the Lt Col was panicked into an obvious question: “Been in the army long, McCoy?”
McCoy barked back, “Aye Sir. Twenty yearrrs. Although I wiz no a’ways in the mob y’ken.”
“No?” asked the Colonel, “what did you do before?”
“I was a cock sucker, Sirrr!” replied the CSM.
The Colonel bristled, “I BEG your pardon, Sergeant?”
“Aye Sir, I wiz an apprentice at the dockyard an’ I used to hae t’sock the caulk en-between the teak decking planks, wi’ a wee hammer.”
“Oh, I see” replied Smith and hastily turned to the second NCO. “And you would be..?”
“Colour Sergeant McCoy, Sirrrr!” said he, adding, before the Colonel could reply, “No relation!”
“Good oh” said the Colonel, “I expect there are a fair few McCoys in the ranks.”
“That there are, Sirr and tae answer yer question, I’ve been in the regiment for eighteen years… before which I was a cock sucker, Sirrr!”
“Ah,” said Smith, “dockyard apprentice, I take it?”
“No, Sirr, I was at the distillery and I haed tae give the corks a good ol’ suck before I poot them en the holes en the barrels. Tae get a good seal see, Sirr!”
Standard issue "Can't see me" Kilt
“I see.” The new CO felt he was starting to get the hang of it and he turned to greet the third “And you, Quartermaster Sergeant..?”
“McCoy, Sirr!” growled the QMS.
“Of course, what else did I imagine?” he said resignedly “Any relation?”
“No, Sirr. There’s a lot o’ McCoys aboot. Anyways, Sirr, twenty three years in the Black Watch and prood of it!” He nodded vigorously and added “…and cock sucker to boot!”
The Colonel studied him a moment and then asked, “Shipyard? Or Distillery”
“Neither, Sirr…" he replied, "I’m the REAL McCoy!”