Home Boys


Great Britain, the present day. These are possibly the most dangerous times to have existed in since the polyester and nylon wars of the 1970s. From everywhere comes the threat of invasion. Who now gathers in non-smoking pubs to plot against us? When next will we be hearing that the recommended hourly intake of alcohol has been reduced yet again? And what foul clothing will next be pumped from the boutiques of the Kings Road? Shirts made from lager? Walking canes made of Big Macs? Fob watches worn around the wrist? It is time, comrades, to defend our proud nation of tweed, of evensong, and of dapper hats against the benighted denizens of "the modern world". It is to you to answer the clarion call, join the Chap Home Guard, and help defend these islands against the enemy that is called progress.

Anyone who has ever watched more than fifteen minutes of either BBCs 1 or 2 in the last twenty years will have some idea of the Home Guard, from Dad's Army. All those who were fit enough to fight, but had not been called up (either because they were too young, too old, too louche, or their jobs were of national importance, such as cocktail waiters) were asked to become the first line of defence against an invasion. Likewise we chaps, many of whom are too pale and languid to enter battle.

The first priority for a fellow is to form a battalion. There are dangers in looking to the past for this though. For example, who would think of finding the leaders in a bank? If we are to identify an enemy, this is indeed where he might be found, with his insistence on pensions, savings, account reviews, charges for independent overdraft extendages, and cheap suits with polyester ties. Ask him whether he is prepared to join you to defend these islands against American coffee shops and sandwich chains and he will stare at you, and then start pressing a panic button which he thinks you cannot see. It is enough to drive a man to liberate the pens that are manacled to the walls of the institution (and any other gentleman you find taking part in this fine sport is a certain recruit). Likewise characters such as the butcher, undertaker and spiv have been removed from our streets and, rather than characters, have been replaced by faceless individuals in supermarkets.

In the days of the Second World War, the Home Guard had nothing modern with which to defend themselves: their weapons were either ancient fowling pieces, or fiendish contraptions that they themselves had invented, using anything they could get their hands on. Likewise the chap's arsenal. One could convert one's hipflask into a Molotov cocktail bomb by replacing the single malt with a petrol/alcopop mix and affixing a pipecleaner as a fuse. A walking cane can be hollowed out and turned into a pea-shooter of the highest magnitude. Similarly, one's buttonhole can be replaced with a squirty joke-shop variety that is filled with sulphuric acid. And of course a trilby can happily carry a grenade in its crown.

So, now we have gathered chumrades about us and the arsenal is fit to bursting with weaponry, we must find our enemy. Where does he or she lurk? What are we defending against? Like our forefathers in World War Two we stand for liberty. Each day, more and more of our lives becomes homogenised. Look back at photographs of city centres barely twenty years ago, and each has its own character; today it is impossible to tell apart Gloucester, York, Luton and Preston, as they all have the same "malls", the same branches of Greggs the Bakers, JJB sports and the Oxfam book shop. We must fight against this for the protection of the individual. So this weekend, make a stand! Shop only where there are no more than three branches of a shop and preferably one! Drink only in independent pubs! Buy drinks only for gentlemen who enter the pub wearing driving gloves.

And then retreat to the barricades, cock your weapons, gird your tweed-clad loins, and await the philistine hordes as they sweep down the high street armed with their mocha lattes, their quarter-pound Mc Squirrell burgers, and their rolled-up copies of Loaded.