This is our truth, tell us yours
“On Monday I touched her on the ankle,
Tuesday I touched her on her knee,
On Wednesday I confess, I lifted up her dress,
On Thursday I saw it, gor blimey,
On Friday I put me ‘and upon it,
On Saturday I took her out to tea,
On Sunday after supper, I whopped me f**r up her,
An’ now I’m payin’ forty bob a week!”
In case you’re wondering, that’s the second verse of a marching song of the British Army, noted by Orwell in a footnote to his the first part of his superb essay ‘The Lion and The Unicorn; Socialism and the English Genius.’
According to Fallon, he fell far below the standards demanded of the armed forces. Here’s what Orwell had to say;
The mass of the people are without military knowledge or tradition, and their attitude towards war is invariably defensive. No politician could rise to power by promising them conquests or military ‘glory’, no Hymn of Hate has ever made any appeal to them. In the last war the songs which the soldiers made up and sang of their own accord were not vengeful but humorous and mock-defeatist. The only enemy they ever named was the sergeant-major.
In England all the boasting and flag-wagging, the ‘Rule Britannia’ stuff, is done by small minorities. The patriotism of the common people is not vocal or even conscious. They do not retain among their historical memories the name of a single military victory. English literature, like other literatures, is full of battle-poems, but it is worth noticing that the ones that have won for themselves a kind of popularity are always a tale of disasters and retreats. There is no popular poem about Trafalgar or Waterloo, for instance. Sir John Moore’s army at Corunna, fighting a desperate rearguard action before escaping overseas (just like Dunkirk!) has more appeal than a brilliant victory. The most stirring battle-poem in English is about a brigade of cavalry which charged in the wrong direction. And of the last war, the four names which have really engraved themselves on the popular memory are Mons, Ypres, Gallipoli and Passchendaele, every time a disaster.
Fallon’s fall is complete because, besides being a sexual predator with no respect for boundaries, he was a fraud, a civilian who liked to pretend to understand and be at one with the military. Like all such frauds, he may discover that the afterlife of his political career is a lonely place.