Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Dancing Guardsman

One of the most definitive sights that people associate with London, especially foreign tourists, is the Queen's Guard with their red tunics and huge bearskin hats. The Household Division of the army maintains a continuous ceremonial and security watch on several areas of the royal residences, most visibly in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. There are usually four men on duty at a time and they either stand at ease or attention, or march up and down. They're armed with a standard army assault rifle with a fixed bayonet and sometimes you'll see them shift their weapon from one hand to the other. All these manoeuvres are very tightly timed and directed. Every day at about 11 AM the Changing of the Guard takes place in which a fresh guard unit relieves the one on duty in a very ordered and ostentatious manner; when this happens the streets nearby are invariably packed with onlookers from all over the world. I always find these displays very unsettling; to me these men look inhuman, or not even alive. They're like robots. My own brief experience of military life revealed to me how the discipline of the armed forces is very intensely imposed, to the point where my individual thoughts were reduced to irrelevant trivia.

However, a few weeks ago the tourists at Buckingham Palace experienced a rare treat. One of the guardsmen deviated very significantly from the regulation drill. As he marched in the usual way, he also pirouetted like a dancer, stooped to pick something off the ground, froze in mid stride and then moved in slow motion. He then brushed his rifle and the wall of his guard box as if there were dust on it. A visitor to London called Andy Richards filmed the spectacle and uploaded it to YouTube where it has gone viral, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D9Z-zSFPQI. The unnamed soldier from the Grenadier Guards regiment, whom the media have nicknamed "Private Dancer", was immediately confined to quarters and the army authorities have launched an investigation. It has been reported that the soldier has been charged with “conduct prejudicial to good order and service discipline." The Grenadier Guards are considered the most senior regiment of the Foot Guards of the Household Division, and this aggravates the "offence" committed. He will face a military tribunal that could sentence him to a £1000 fine or three weeks in the military prison at Colchester, without pay of course. After his release he may face further reprimand in terms of punishment duties, loss of privileges and restricted liberty. No doubt he'll be made an example of in case any of his comrades get any similar notions of independency, see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/theroyalfamily/11096982/Buckingham-Palace-dancing-Guardsman-may-face-prison.html. That is totally unfair! Personally I think he deserves a medal! It makes me feel very hopeful when I see a human being choosing to act like human beings, instead of allowing himself to be mutated into a mindless biological automaton, like the "Epsilons" from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. We need more people to breach procedure, turn against conformism, think for themselves and act on their own thoughts and conscience; not fewer. This applies to everybody, not just soldiers. Despite the barrage of indoctrination a new recruit to the armed forces has to cope with there have been many occasions when military personnel have mutinied after they've been ordered to carry out some abominable war crime. There's no way to be certain, but I suspect that "Private Dancer" is one of those great men who would be the first to lay down his arms in such an horrific situation. Now that's what I call a real hero!

4 comments:

Neil Austin said...

I dunno about this one Ben. To me, none of his marching looks authentic and 'from the classic guard's mold'. My gut reaction is that this could be yet another deliberate diversion and public- softening, or at least water-testing, psy-op; TPTB (particularly this chap's CO's)would know that this type of behaviour would be totally unacceptable and openly disrespectful (by their standards)upon the establishment's premier stage - Buck House. That's irrespective of whether Madam Hairy Legs was home or not. I agree, on the face of it, his non-conformist behaviour seems admirable; but if this was for real, his feet would not touch the ground. It would never be allowed to 'go viral' on Youtube. I suspect he would just 'disappear'.

Xylomet said...

Whatever the 'impulsion' to carry out this 'act' it for me does not take away the fact that silly dance aside the fact that at this stage of humanity the most silly thing is that we continue to 1) have an unelected, archaic bloodline monarchy ruling over us permitted because of tourist magnetism and 2) that a silly dance can outweigh the fact that we still condone and decorate our skulls with a dead bear in representation of our servive to an omnipotent overlord be it psychologically or otherwise. The stage is (in its very nature) is not real and Neil makes an interesting point in this respect because it begs the questions who is controlling the actors on it and what is the message of the play?.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I hope not, Neil, but I suppose I have to consider that possibility.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Of course, X, I wouldn't want to reprioritize those other things just because of this incident. And I object to bears being killed as well!