Favourite Poem – Tommy

One of the things that I have always believed is that you can judge a civilised society by the way they treat their ex – armed services people.

Sadly in the United Kingdom over the past 25 years which has been accelerated in the past 10 years the way in which our armed services have and continue to be treated is disappointing and no more so than those who have retired or have left as a result of combat injuries.

When I say disappointed of course what I mean is disgraceful, callous, disgusting and any other word or expression you wish to choose to use.

In fact there is no expression of disgust that I can use that will come anywhere near describing the appalling way our armed services are being treated.

When Rudyard Kipling wrote his poem Tommy it was in the knowledge based on his experience that soldiers were considered as not even second but third class citizens of these islands.

Here we are in 2018 and as our Prime Minister Theresa May is so keen to say “Nothing Has Changed”

Tommy 
Rudyard Kipling

I WENT into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer, 

The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.” 

The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die, 

I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I: 

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ; 

But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play

The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, 

O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play. 

I went into a theatre as sober as could be, 

They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me; 

They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls, 

But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls! 

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “;

But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide

The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide, 

O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide. 

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap. 

An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit

Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit. 

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? ”

But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll

The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll, 

O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too, 

But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; 

An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints, 

Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints; 

While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,” 

But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind

There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind, 

O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all: 

We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational. 

Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace. 

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! ”

But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot; 

An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please; 

An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!