When I was posted at Duntroon
As C.S.M of ‘weeds and seeds’,
Its grounds I’d walk each afternoon,
Reflecting on my task, its needs.
Diverse, the soldiers working here;
Musicians, cooks, the stewards, and it’s queer
That from my office window to the square,
Listening to the distant band rehearse, I’m so aware
Of differences. My ‘Weeds and Seeds’ has lot’s of them:
The C.Q.M.S., has just one foot, the other taken by a mine.
The sergeant clerk one leg, one eye and D.C.M.
Drivers without licences; all these are mine.
As well – a different lot, there is Ground Maintenance. This, a platoon
Of Infantry sick and lame, and drivers banned from driving.
And these, the dispossessed, so take my time that soon
The day has insufficient hours and I’m obsessed, and striving
To resolve what seems to me to be a sorry mess
Left by my predecessor and his boss.
All this compounded by a soldier girl, a pretty stewardess,
And staff cadets like children round the candy floss.
Doing extra training in the Company Orderly room, that girl,
Stripping back the Lino covered floor and laying polish.
And like my Lino was her weekend stripped of any social whirl
By my reluctance to charge her or to admonish.
This extra training, it was how I thought to exercise my will
On soldiers, disparate, without cohesiveness from within;
Without a unit. And besides, whoever would I find to give close order drill
If all I did was march the guilty bastards in?
Thus it was this day, a balmy, sunny, Sunday afternoon;
The sort of day on which the very soul rejoices;
That after having supped my beer in Sergeants’ Mess, Duntroon,
And walking past my office going home, do I hear muffled, unexpected voices.
‘Hello, hello. What is all this? What is going on in there’?
Mumbling, giggling, that’s the sound I hear of busy industry?
Intrigued, I look to see my victim perched high on wooden chair
Up on a table, while on their knees her busy, working coterie,
Cadets, bums up, heads down, nosing round the Orderly Room,
Bucket, mop, and squeegee poised behind the flourished, sweeper’s broom.
‘Oh look at me’ I hear them cry – that universal lovers’ call.
But their target, when she smiles, she smiles at them one and all.
While to my floor they give their all, a super, waxen, polished gleam.
Because of promises implied and sweetness smiling, seated there.
Of leadership still they’ve much to learn, t’would seem.
And what better teacher than the pretty girl perched on that chair.
By Michael Shave