How to be a Successful Subaltern

by “Sustainer”

Introduction - Rule No. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

Rule Number 3:

Know your enemy and charm her.

The Commanding Officer will be married. His wife will be a lady old enough to be a cynic but young enough to deny it. She will compare all subalterns with her husband and his contemporaries at the same age and find the present generation wanting. This is known as the 'good old days syndrome' but I understand that it is quite normal in persons over thirty years of age. It is catching but takes some years to manifest itself; however don't be alarmed, it doesn't cause more than slight discomfort. The Commanding Officer's wife can be an implacable foe. She is therefore to be treated with he utmost circumspection and every effort has to be made to win her esteem and convert her to the cause.

There are two approaches, both of which require he exercise of sound judgement. A written appreciation of the situation is a must here, with particular attention being paid to the heading, 'Friendly Forces'. Course of action number one is to treat Mrs Colonel as if she were the embodiment of the Mona Lisa, Cleopatra and your mother. Enquire after her health, dance with her eldest spotty daughter, and after dinner at the house use expressions like, "Golly gosh, just like my mother's cooking!". Deprecate the philandering of your friends with a wistful little smile that speaks volumes for your self-control and your worldliness. Try to be nice to the spotty daughter - (she may just grow into a swan).

The second approach is radical, it can be tellingly effective but it can also be dangerous. In short, treat the Colonel's lady like the girl next door. Call her Charlotte (always a winner, particularly if her name happens to be Charlotte). Don't ask her what she would like to drink -thrust a half pint of bitter into her hand and defy her not to drink it. Seek her sisterly advice about Jane or Susan, ignore her incredibly spotty daughter, and dance with Mum whenever it seems appropriate. Note the word 'appropriate' dear reader, that means only in public. The whole object of the exercise is to win the esteem of your leader, not to antagonize him, if you know what I mean.

Mention was made earlier about 'Friendly Forces'. The Commanding Officer's wife will almost certainly preside over the 'wives' club'. Establish early on the identities of her ruling junta and, depending upon your personality, adopt either of the approaches already outlined in dealing with these ladies. Buy a notebook and keep a record of which style you are using on which lady. A change of methodology (excellent word much loved by the RAEC Centre) could give rise to any number of difficult situations.

Next - Rule No. 4

Introduction - Rule No. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6