Wednesday 6 October 2010

R.D.Blumenfeld on How to Spot a Guardsman

Monday, June 27, 1887

There was present at luncheon a tall, extremely well-dressed young man, with whom I returned to town in a hansom cab. I noticed that part of his forehead was very much sunburned, but one part, from the hair to the nose above the right eye, was of a different colour. This is "the swagger mark " indicating the soldier. It comes from the pill-box, which protects only a small portion of the head and forehead from the sun; a much-coveted distinction. On the way he told me that he is a private in the 2nd Life Guards, and that "the gentlemen of the Guards " are permitted to go out off duty in mufti if they so desire. A large number of these Guardsmen, however, prefer to go out in uniform, shell jacket, very tight overalls, and pill-box askew on head, ready to be hired for afternoon or evening by nursemaids to "walk out." There is a regular, fixed tariff. Household Cavalry for afternoon out in Park, half-a-crown and beer. Brigade of Foot Guards, eighteen-pence and beer. Royal Horse Artillery, two shillings. Other services, a shilling. The fact that there is a big demand is shown by the large number of females at barrack gates early in the afternoon and evening waiting to engage escorts.

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