John Gibson: Manners maketh the squaddie

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What faith can you have in soldiers, I ask you, if you’re going to send them to the front line, if you’ve got to teach them how to hold their cutlery correctly, never mind a rifle?

The bloody basics. The fork in the left hand, knife in the right. You do not hold them like a pen. Field Marshal Montgomery, mind you, when he arrived in the desert, his knees still ashen white, had to tell some of his Eighth army troop how to open a tin of bully beef.

Edinburgh’s Major General James Cowan has been talking to his troops – not just the poor bloody infantry, to his junior commanders. One hopes they got the cutlery message, these privately- educated chaps.

You’d imagine they don’t need to be told, to be taken by the hand. But yes they do. The army’s lack of elementary manners gets on Maj Gen Cowan’s wick. Not just table manners. Eating like yobs, ripping rolls apart with bare hands, even with ladies at table in the officers’ mess. Also, basic arithmetic and spelling.

Some army. We’re not talking about just squaddies. Let me wrap up this rant on an an educational note: Edinburgh City Council have closed their Kalashnikov evening classes for the winter.

What a Charlie!

Out of his skull. Charlie Saatchi, notorious for clutching Nigella Lawson’s neck in a restaurant, must have been doolally to ditch the woman, even if in a fit of temper he’ll regret for the rest of his life.

We’ve just seen pictures of her on the cover of next month’s British Vogue and she looks a million dollars – even allowing for a smidgeon of airbrushing.

Charlie, what a chump! How could you part with such a gorgeous specimen of 52-year-old womanhood? Guaranteed to make heads turn if she was seen at large in the street. I had to thumb back the page and look again.