Officers and Gentlemen Do Not Eat Sandwiches With Their Hands
British general denounces ‘barbaric’ eating habits
Maj. Gen. James Cowan, commander of the British Army’s 3rd Division, has a cunning plan to improve the fighting efficiency of his troops.
He has forbidden officers to eat sandwiches with their hands.
“Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands,” Moran said in a three-page order to his division, according to Daily Telegraph.
“The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches in the mess is to stop,” he ordered. “A gentleman or lady uses a knife and fork.”
Denouncing what he called “barbaric” habits by officers and soldiers, Cowan also offered sage advice on military etiquette, such as counseling male officers not to sit with their wives at military dinners.
His order, which was issued only to a few 3rd Division officers, went viral in the British military.
Perhaps it’s because it had at least a passing resemblance to the words of fictional Maj. Gen. Stanley from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance—an 1880 satirical opera of a stuffier, more imperialistic British military.
The Ministry of Defense claims that Cowan was just trying to be funny. But that explanation didn’t stop a razor-sharp response by the anonymous blogger “Earl of Sandwich” on the popular Army Rumor Service Website.
Because we should respect Miss Manners, and because our mothers always told us to mind our manners, War is Boring offers Cowan’s comments as printed in The Telegraph and the replies from ARSSE.
Cowan: Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands.
ARSSE: Sandwiches take half the time to order and eat in the mess, so we have more time at our desks in your headquarters, in order to read more of your emails about eating sandwiches.
Cowan: The secret of a successful marriage is never to sit next to your spouse at dinner, except when dining alone at home. It displays a marked degree of insecurity.
ARSSE: Clearly this is a sensitive topic, but you see, sir, we actually quite like our wives. That is rather why we married them … Many of them see it as a bit of an imposition to agree to go to a work function of ours so they can be plied with copious amounts of drink while being banned from visiting the ladies’ room, encouraged to watch paunchy middle-aged men get smashed and make inappropriate comments before staggering off to piss in a sink, and then be made to write to thank you for the pleasure. …
Given that between Herrick [Afghanistan] rotations, weekend duties and exercises and spending up to 2000 hours [8:00 PM] on a weekday in your headquarters reading emails about sandwiches, we don’t get to see each other that much, so they quite like sitting with us.
Cowan: Ten years ago, officers would stand up when the commanding officer walked into the room. This doesn’t happen any more.
ARSSE: Please excuse Capt. George RLC and Capt. MacDonald RE, however. The prostheses make it a bit problematic. While on the subject, please be assured that Capt. Fraser RLC is not, in fact, “giving you the finger” when saluting—it's just that he only has the one remaining.