The hair demanded one hour’s attention. The crown and back were smeared with wax and fastened back so tightly by a ribbon that individual hairs were liable to spring out again with an almost audible snap. Finally the head was liberally sprinkled with powder (at an allowance of about 2lb a month), and the locks at the side were curled up by one of the soldier’s comrades or by the company friseur at the captain’s quarters. The grenadiers had the special obligation of keeping their moustaches stiff and smooth with black wax, and in order to keep the points in pristine condition they used to tie them up with thread before they went to sleep.
– Prussian army, mid-18th century.
Essays were handed in at the end of a tea-addled writing marathon: a 4,000 word comparative book review, of which I remember not a single word, and a 4,000 word ramble on the recalcitrant indecisiveness of 18th century warfare, complete with unnecessarily florid language and opening quote from Edward Gibbon. My printer ran out of ink at the eleventh hour, but as for once they weren’t handed in in a complete panic, I had plenty of time to run down to Soraya’s and use hers. I actually think they were pretty good. I know I’m jinxing myself to say so, and I know I left some fairly important things out of ROMW, but yeah. Quietly confident.
Another term starts, and with it even less attention from the department. Crit analysis doesn’t exist any more, bringing our contact hours down to a numbing three per week, and has been replaced by dissertation prep, which I’ve heard nothing of yet. Group Research at least has some attendance these days, but we still don’t seem to be getting anywhere. ‘Nam is fun as ever; in the near future I’m doing a group presentation on Ap Tau O, in which Charlie ambushed an American armoured column and made armoured columns look a bit silly. I’ll get to a) talk about tanks and b) use the word “audacious” a lot, so it ought to be fun.
Rise of Modern War has become Introduction to Strategy/Operational Art, which is also cool (and has much more sophisticated weapons! Though Toby has a much too high opinion of the Dreyse needle gun…) but seems much more about theory than practice. We do presentations on various modern military thinkers, and I reckon I’ve drawn the shortest straw, focusing on two rather odd interwar British thinkers who had all their best work nicked by the Huns: Basil Liddell Hart (self-aggrandising wanker) and JFC Fuller (nutty fascist who thought he was a wizard). I do at least have Jon as my winghollyman, but why couldn’t I have drawn Mao and Che?
Ah well. We do what we can, with what we have.