The Punk History Files
Between 2018 and 2020 I wrote a series for Craig Douglas' website, 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the British Army'. Craig, an ex-Royal Artillery sergeant and author of the Afghanistan memoir 'Fire Mission', liked the humour on my Facebook page and proposed a series of irreverent articles based on our joint fascination with all things military.
The premise was I'd pretend to be a 'Punk Historian', a sort of anti-Max Hastings, interested only in ephemera, bluster and taking the piss. Which, for me, came completely naturally. I'd choose a military-themed subject, do some half-arsed research, rustle up some in-jokes then try and write something amusing. Sometimes I'd make salient points, at others conjure create surreal nonsense of the sort contact with the army seems to provoke (even for a scabby 1980s / 90s Reservist such as myself).
Craig was a supportive and enthusiastic partner in crime - behold, for example, his design genius when we created 'Army Top Trumps'. I ended up writing fifteen deeply silly articles covering everything from military discipline to the history of combat boots. By far the most popular with the military community was 'A Punk History Of Military Cool, or the pursuit of ally–ness', an exploration of soldierly fashion and vanity. It spiked on Twitter, with soldiers debating which items of uniform were cool or not.
For posterity, and for anyone interested, I've decided to link them on my website. Naturally, they are quite politically incorrect. The pieces we called 'Punk Histories' can be found here. The 'Punk Guides' are here.