Outside the main gate of RAF Wittering, on the A1 in Cambridgeshire, just past the funny old sign that says ‘Beware: Camp Entrances’, is a shiny new sign saying: ‘Now Recruiting’. It’s there outside RAF Scampton, on the A15 in Lincolnshire, too. And then in a lay-by on the A165 in East Yorkshire there’s a big camouflage-green truck with a sign suggesting that if you’d like to drive it, you should think about joining the army.
Back in London, on every other phone box (which are surely just glorified advertising billboards these days) I see there’s an army recruitment ad, reminding people that doctors and engineers are needed too; it’s not all about killing and being killed. (Though there is plenty of that, as this in-no-way-glorifying video makes clear.)
It’s a threefold solution to a few of the government’s ills: more cannon fodder for the war they’re losing in Afghanistan; taking up the advertising slack as the private sector tightens its belt to keep a bit of cash circulating through the calcifying economy; and finding something to do with at least some of the growing numbers of the unemployed. Even the BBC is in on the act: the Easter special of Doctor Who ended with the Doctor effectively press-ganging a pair of young men into joining up.