Friday, December 7, 2012

Ashley Sterne 1915 Punch Articles Part 3


Here is Ashley Sterne's final Punch article from 1915. 


Jones – Super-Patriot

By Ashley Sterne


Jones (I'm very sorry, but his name is really Jones) is a true patriot, every inch of him; but unfortunately he hasn't many inches. Nevertheless, the War wasn't a week old before Jones placed all sixty-one of them at the disposal of the nation. And they threw him out because sixty-one was not enough. Later, when the official altitude-scale was reduced, he offered them again; but on this occasion they threw him out because his teeth came from Weibeck Street. And when subsequently the War Office decided that false teeth were not necessarily a barrier to a military career; were, in fact, a valuable asset in connection with bully-beef, they threw him out because he saw nineteen spots on a card that only possessed seven. And then, when the authorities at last came to look upon pince-nez with a more benignant eye, they threw him out because, while they had been busy rejecting him for paucity of inches, falsity of teeth, and debility of eyes, Jones had passed the age limit; and when he wanted to argue the point with the Recruiting Officer they threw him out once more for luck.

Then he tried for the Special Constabulary, and the first night he was on duty he contracted pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza and laryngitis. And they threw him out of that because they wanted Special Constables and not collectors of germs. When he got better – and his convalescence was a long business notwithstanding that his sentences ran concurrently – he applied to join the A.A.C. and would have got in if the Medical Officer had not rung him up on the stethoscope in order to hear his wheels go round. As it was, the M.O. informed Jones that he couldn't pass him into the A.A.C; but if he was really anxious to "serve" he might try and get taken on at an A. B. C.; and it finally took a retired Rear-Admiral, a Chief Petty Officer, a Sergeant of Marines and an Elder Brother of Trinity House to throw him out on that occasion.

Disappointed but undaunted Jones next attempted to qualify as a stretcher bearer in the Home Service Branch of the Red Cross. There, at any rate, they didn't seem so particular whether his lungs squeaked or not. But even they threw him out when they found that Jones's end of the stretcher was always six inches nearer to the ground than the opposite end.

In desperation he tried to join his local Defence Corps, but they wouldn't have him there because, they said, he completely spoilt the look of their parade.  And when Jones expostulated, and urged that the question of appearance was a matter of individual taste, and that for his part he would be ashamed to be found dead wearing a face like that of the Commander of X Company, they fell upon him with eager hands and drill-toughened feet, and threw him out yet once again.

Then, having done his best, Jones went back to business.  A few years ago I met him and he related the foregoing experience to me.  "But I've found a way to help, he concluded, "and it's a help which they can't refuse however overaged, undersized, weak-eyed and false-toothed I may be."

"Taking a course of elementary surgery at one of the hospitals?" I asked.

"No."

"Making recruiting speeches?

"No."

"Putting in overtime and Sundays at the Arsenal?"

"No."

"What then?"

"Something I've never done before," said Jones, a little shamefacedly.  "I– I– I'm returning my Income Tax Form to the Assessors with the correct amount of my Income filled in."

Other patriots please copy.

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