The colonel sat at his desk facing the door. A fire crackled in the grate and pictures of his loved ones adorned the mantelpiece. He was writing a report to be sent to head office but was thinking about a reprimand he had to give to one of the men under his command.
There came a knock at the door and he replied to it, “Enter!”
As the door opened his colour sergeant shouted, “Left, right, left, right!”
The boots of the private rang out in unison to the sergeant’s staccato of commands.
Marching in then stopping on command the soldier saluted his officer.
“Private Plattington reporting for reprimand Sir,” explained the NCO from beyond the doorway.
“Thank you Sergeant,” replied the colonel.
The door was then closed to give the colonel and private privacy.
Colonel Pendragon carried looking at his report, leaving Plattington to stand there still at attention. “Is that enough attention Plattington?”
“Maybe if you had paid greater attention to me before you would not be standing to attention in front of me now.” he pushed the report away from himself and looked with a withering gaze at the private.
The private looked to the ground in shame.
“I wanted to give you your first stripe.”
“The whip Sir?”
“No man, your corporal’s stripe. You could have led your own platoon. It could have been called ‘Plattington’s Platoon’, which would have been quite funny.” He thought quite quietly to himself, “If we had a platypus mascot then we could house it with him and it would be called Plattington’s Platoon Platypus.”
“It’s no good saying sorry now, you’ve done the deed.” Colonel Pendragon mused for a little while, “What was it again that I’m supposed to be punishing you for?” He leant over the desk to look at his notes.
“Annoying chatter Sir,” replied Plattington.
“Annoying chatter? I get that all the time off the colour sergeant.” Tapping his billy stick on the table he tried to remember, “Who made that stupid rule up?”
“You Sir, it’s not in the TEABAG manual.”
“Oh, well. It seems a bit silly now doesn’t it. I must have been particularly annoyed at somebody chattering.”
“It was Chatteris Sir, he chatters all the time.”
“So who reported you then?”
“Chatteris Sir, he said he couldn’t get a word in edgeways.”
“How ironic, Chatteris reporting you for chattering annoyingly.” As he walked to one side of the desk he made a decision, “It’s not a bad enough offence to lose a stripe over. I’m still going to promote you to bombardier, which is also what a corporal is called in the artillery. Er, and you have to look after the new regimental mascot, a platypus...” Pendragon threw a stripe across the table.
Plattington grabbed it, smiled and saluted.
“Dismissed,” also smiled the colonel as he tapped his forehead in acknowledgement. “Scubbins!” he then bellowed.
The colour sergeant entered and stood to attention, “Sir.”
“I’ve promoted Plattington and given him a platypus.”
“So that’ll be Peter Plattington’s Platoon platypus then?”
“He’s called Peter is he?”
“Yes Sir, it’s better than being called Pat. Pat Plattington’s...” he began.
“That’s all Colour Sergeant.”
Scubbins smiled, clicked his heels and turned to leave.