This has nothing to do with Eldred Pottinger or Afghanistan but I’m taking the opportunity to offer up an idiot’s guide to commentating on the Lions tour if you work for Sky TV. All you need to do is repeat these meaningless and increasingly irritating phrases at irregular intervals throughout each game: 1. The get-go 2. Asking questions 3. Set down markers 4. Hard yards 5. Worth the admission fee alone (especially when the stadium is empty) 6. Hard-wired into the Springbok DNA 7. Nobody said it was going to be easy 8. Carry/carries 9. Moving through the gears 10. Grab the game by the scruff of the neck 11. Sensing the scent of blood 12. Half-time oranges 13. It’s not rocket science 14. Asking more questions 15. The next score is absolutely crucial 16. The game was always go to the wire (sic) 17. His go-to man 18. Arm-wrestle 19. Questions being asked (again) 20. Game of two halves
And here’s one comment almost worth the admission fee alone: ‘He’s absolutely hoofed that into the Sheriff of Carmarthen’s honker.’
Yet again British troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan and claiming they have not suffered defeat. It’s a bit like the knight in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ who wants to fight on even though he’s lost both arms and both legs.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, claimed attacks such as 9/11 had been prevented from ‘occurring from Afghanistan’ in the period since adding that ‘not a day goes by’ without him thinking of the 457 UK lives lost.
The fact is the British military has always met its match in Afghanistan. We are leaving without any sort of ‘victory’ exactly as we did in 1842.
On that occasion, an entire army had been wiped out. We sent in ‘an army of retribution’ which did its best to devastate and intimidate the population then got the Hell out of there before it, too, was trapped by General Winter.
The incompetence of our first foray into Afghanistan was astonishing – but almost 200 years on, has it really changed all that much? I certainly don’t buy the idea that this time we were ‘not defeated’.
We were worn down, worn out and slunk away – undefeated ‘on the battlefield’ maybe, but defeated all the same. Another pointless, meaningless Afghan tragedy.