' A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat, except a man.'
Edward E. Cummings 1894 - 1962

3 battalion The Royal Australian Regiment had been placed in reserve, andto a man were anticipating a pleasant interlude of wassail and frivolity,to celebrate Christmas. Our joy was somewhat diminished when we werewarned of an impending visit by the Minister of the Army, the HonourableJosiah Francis. MP.

And so on Christmas Day the battalion was paraded as ceremonially as couldbe managed on a padi-field parade ground. Our first sighting of Mr.Francis revealed that the chilly Korean weather had caused him to modifyhis customary sartorial elegance: he was dressed in an odd mixture of army- issue winter wear and civilian clothing.

The Minister was a rather rotund man, about five feet eight or nine inchesin height, substantially girthed and probably weighing in at around twohundred pounds plus. His borrowed army parka was probably pre-owned andcertainly hadn't been selected with care, for it would have fitted a muchtaller and leaner person. But at least ,the incongruous mix with hissnow-white shirt, tie and black Homberg hat insured that he would never bemistaken for a common soldier.

By some oversight the back-flap of the Minister's parka hadn't been passedbetween his legs to be secured to the press studs on the front of thegarment. The sight of this 'tail' swinging to and fro as he arrived at theReviewing Stand was entertaining , but this was quickly surpassed by Mr.Francis' drill movements when responding to the parades' 'General Salute'.The classical symmetry of the sweeping arc described by his Homberg hat inits travel from the Ministerial head to his left breast, was appreciatedby those who felt that pantomine should play its part in the celebrations.

The pessimists among us had feared we would be fed the usual platitudes,and this certainly proved to be so.Mr. Francis was extremely impressed byhis own boldness in venturing so far from the Australian CapitolTerritory; and obviously thought that we should be informed of everyfascinating detail of his travels.

In a long rambling speech he made mention of the personal discomfort hehad willingly accepted "To be with you lads at the Front". He repeatedlysolicited our appreciation of his fortitude by stressing the rigours ofhis arduous pilgrimage.

"I have come a long way to see you .." he announced. And "I left Australia quite some time ago to be here with you today.." andmany more of the same, ad nauseum. At long last he became aware that theparade had become very restive; and so in the best parlimentary traditionhe sought to close his address by vowing that our well being was ofparamount importance to him personally .."and to our nation which Irepresent here today."

He further enthused that the prime purpose of his visit was to redress anygrievances and to right all wrongs from which we may have been suffering.He then invited questions and/or suggestions from his captive audience.

Immediately a voice from the middle of Don company indicated lack of faithin matters political by shouting: "Sir! Before we left Australia youpromised that we would lack for nothing... well, that's we bloody wellgot: Nothing."

After a moment of shocked silence, the Minister managed a short flusteredreply. We became aware that 'Question time' had lapsed when the paradeCommander immediatly commenced the succession of commands neccessary toallow our Guest of Honour to be led away.

The Minister and minders made their exit: the battalion stood fast.

Whilst Mr. Francis was taking the opportunity to reflect on the wisdom ofcasting pearls before swine, a rigorous search for the culprit wascommenced, but a widespread lack of co-operation caused it to falter andfinally to be abandoned. Despite all efforts to flush the offender fromcover, a Mafia-like silence ensured that his identity was known only to aselect few of those who were close to him on the parade ground.


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