Based on: It Ain't Half Hot Mum
Rating: about 12
Disclaimer: The characters were created by Jimmy Perry
and David Croft.
Copyright is almost certainly with them and the BBC.
Obviously I've used them without permission but it's
not like I'm making any money. The title is from the
song of the same name - sung by Lofty Sugden (Don Estelle) and
Sgt Major Williams (Windsor Davies). I'm afraid I don't know who wrote
the song - but I don't use any bits of it and it's probably way out of copyright


Whispering Grass

by Elvichar

Sgt Major Williams couldn't sleep. The mosquito netting wasn't keeping
anything out, and the heat wasn't helping either.

But he was proper army. He could cope with these hard conditions. And he
was not going to let a load of poofs spoil his war.

There were only two that were worth all the effort he was putting in -
Parkins and Sugden. Whether Parkins was his son or no he was everything
the Sgt Major would have wanted in his child. 

Lovely boy - a nice pair of shoulders 

And Gunner Sugden may not have been regular army - in pre-war times he
would never have been let in - but he was a good lad.  Voice of an angel and
the only one of that 'orrible lot who actually obeyed orders without question.

Why did none of them respect him? It was all for their own good - he was only
trying to make real men of them.  He'd heard them talking in the barracks about 
getting their own back. 

As for Gunner Beaumont and Bombadier Solomons - well
if they really thought he had no idea what they were getting up to
when they volunteered to go in to the jungle together they were stupider
than they looked.

Six times he'd applied for a transfer. Six times he'd been turned down.

So he was stuck here fighting a losing battle. A lesser man might take it all


"Solly I'm cold - I need something to warm me up."

Despite the stage whisper, Gunner Gloria' Beaumont's voice carried across
the barracks. Lofty Sugden wondered how on earth he could be cold. He
twigged when he saw Solly get out of his camp bed and into Gloria's very
camp one.

Back home he'd never suspected that sort of thing went on. Even so it was
nice that the two had found each other. Although it sometimes seemed that
the whole world, apart from him, was at it.

Atlas and Nobby had paired up almost the second they'd met and Solly and
Gloria were never apart. Of course Nosher had a girl back home and Parky
seemed almost completely innocent of such matters.  Although Gloria insisted
the Sgt Major had a thing for him - he was almost always singling him out for
special treatment.

Parkins insisted there was no way he could be his son. He'd tried working it
out once - the Sgt Major had last seen his mum at least eight months before
he was conceived. And really and truly the Sgt Major must have known that.
Still it seemed to make him happy. 

Lofty felt really sorry for him. He was doing his best under difficult
circumstances. He wished he could be a better soldier to please him. But he
was just too short and fat to have any sort of chance.

The only time the Sgt Major seemed to let go a bit was when he was being
sung to. For some reason he never insulted Lofty's voice the way he
constantly criticised Gunner Graham's piano playing.  Of course Gunner
Graham went to university and the Sgt Major didn't like anyone who should
have been an officer and wilfully refused to play along.

"Don't worry about it Lofty - he's got a chip on his shoulder, that's all. If it
stops him from putting us all on serious charges for some imagined slight
then I'm perfectly willing to take all the abuse," Graham insisted.

But still. It wasn't right. 

Captain Ashwood and Colonel Reynolds should have
stepped in to take charge - but they were far too busy taking tiffin and playing
bridge all the time to be any help.


"Right - I've had a long hard think about what can be
done to help you lot.  Since you don't take too kindly to orders I thought a
little spell roughing it in the jungle might be good for you. You're on your own.
See how you do without orders."   The Sgt Major walked up and down the line of men.  
His men. That was a laugh - if he'd taken charge of a load of schoolgirls he
would have got a better fighting force. Well if they wanted to do it their way
they could do it their way. See where it got them. 

Yes they were a concert party. They were unlikely to see combat. But if the
enemy were to attack how effective would a load of namby-pamby men in
frocks be against a battalion of trained Japanese killers?

His upper lip twitched as he rocked back on his heels, hands behind his back.
He waited for a response. For a few second none of them answered, but he
knew who'd be the first to speak.

"'Ere Sarge - does that mean we can do what we want?"
Gunner Beaumont, as expected.

"Yes lovely boys you are on your own. I will not interfere if a great big tiger
wants to eat you, I will do nothing if a crocodile tries to nick your rations, I
will in short let you get on with it."

Gloria grinned and looked at Solly, who smirked.

"So Sarge, what you're saying is we are allowed to do anything?" Solly asked.
Best to make absolutely sure.

The Sgt Major nodded. "That is what I said."

"What if we just want to stay here?" Lofty said quietly.

"That is not an option. You must venture forth into the wilderness."

"How very poetic," Gunner Graham said.

"Oh how very poetic' is it? Well Mr La-di-da Gunner Graham, we'll see how
poetic it gets when you starve to death and your rotting corpse is found in
fifty years time clutching a note begging for my help," the Sgt Major yelled.

"I hardly think that's likely," Graham replied.

The Sgt Major bit his tongue. They wanted him to get angry. He knew their
tricks - well he was not going to rise to it anymore.  Enough was enough. He
paced in front of them then went round to inspect the

"Stand up straight. Shoulders back - come on lovely boys you can do better
than that."

"Do you think it's strictly necessary to make us parade quite so often?"
Gunner Graham again. 

"You will do it until you get it right!"

"Does that mean the jungle thing is off?" Gunner Beaumont said forlornly.

"No it is not. But if you are going to survive you need to know the meaning of

For some reason this made Gunner Beaumont snigger.

"What is so funny? Have I said something amusing?"

"No Sarge nothing. Nothing at all. I was just clearing my throat, honest." the
Gunner gave the Sgt Major his cow-eyed innocent look. 

"Oh, well that's all right then."

The Sgt Major arrived behind Gunner Parkins. His moustache bristled.

"You have to stay here. Important business to attend to. I need a proper man
to stay behind and look after things."

"Oh aye?" Gunner Atlas' Macintosh said, prompting more sniggering all

"And what is that supposed to mean?" The Sgt Major was really getting
angry now. He was going to start hitting things soon.  But Gunner Macintosh
was a big man - and he wasn't afraid of getting put on a charge.

"I was merely saying that you must have some very hard times ahead

"Yeah - it's always hard for the Sarge," Solomons said.

"I'm quite looking forward to the hard time we're going to be having in the
jungle," Beaumont added.

"Good lad. That's the spirit," The Sgt Major replied.

The Sgt Major realised he was rapidly losing control of the situation. But he
was not going to let on he had any idea what they were talking about. Far
better to let them think he was oblivious to all their banter and where it was

He dismissed them before anything more could be said.


"But Sarge - why can't I go?" Gunner Parkin was far too enthusiastic for his
own good.

"You are needed here," The Sgt Major insisted.


"No buts boy."

Parky had occasionally wondered if Gloria was right about the Sarge's
interest in him. Usually he dismissed the thought entirely, but he was
beginning to wonder. Not that anything was ever going to happen - not with
someone as army as Sgt Major Williams. He was probably
terrified of a court martial. 

The thing was, he was caught too much in the middle - the officers were at it 
(it was almost compulsory) and it was more or less overlooked in the ranks
(especially concert party members). But he was an NCO - If he were caught
he'd get a dishonourable discharge. If he was lucky.

So it was best to keep schtoom about it. Stay in his good books and not let
on that anything was up.

It was lucky they were stationed so close to a nature reserve. there were
plenty of nice beauty spots for picnicking or whatever.

There was never any danger of any danger. The Sarge had probably arranged
this just so they were all out of his way for a while.

"Do you think anything is likely to happen between them?" Gloria squawked.
He was very difficult to listen to for any prolonged length of time - which was
one of the reasons Solly took so many opportunities to make sure his mouth
was full.

"It's unlikely isn't it. Anyway I think Parky can take care of himself... do you
want the leg or the breast," Solly said, gesturing to the wicker basket full of
food that Ranji had thoughtfully provided for them.


After making sure that Parkin was safely checking a pile of non-essential
documents, the Sgt Major decided it was only prudent to go and check on how
the men were faring without him. If they really did get gored by wild
elephants the Colonel would have his guts for garters.

He'd only got about two yards into the jungle when he stumbled across
Gunner Sugden.

"What is you doing moping about here boy? You should be taking charge of
your own destiny, deep in the heart of the forest."

"I know Sarge but I didn't want to get lost. And anyway..." he was about to
say he wanted to give the others some privacy, but he wasn't sure that
would go down too well.

There was something about the little man to which the Sgt Major couldn't
help responding. He was like a small boy but without the malice - and how
could you get angry at someone so incapable of deliberately causing harm. He
was really the only one who had never set out to insult. 

"Well see that it does not happen again," the Sgt Major said stiffly.

"Yes Sarge, I'll try. Maybe if you came with me I would do better."

"Came with you lovely boy? But I specifically said you were all on your own
with this one?"

"Yes but I would be better on my own if there was someone with me."

The Sgt Major sighed. "All right. But I might not be here the next time."

Gunner Sugden smiled, "No Sarge."
The food had been eaten. Gloria was still talking.

"Do you think I'll ever be a star Solly. I'm sure if the war hadn't got in the
way everyone would have known me by now."

"I don't doubt that for a minute," Solly smiled.

It was so strange the way that so many men fell in love with Gloria every
time they did a show. For goodness sake he didn't even
look particularly feminine - yet they were always claiming they thought
he was a girl.

"Solly - do you think we should do a new number next time? I could be Betty
Grable and you could be a sailor swooning over my picture. Of course it
wouldn't really be a picture it would be me standing behind a big frame."

"Yeah that sounds good. we should practice."

"What here in the middle of the jungle?"

"Good a time as any - and we can make sure it's exactly right before we
perform it in front of people."

"Ooh I can think of a few things we don't want to do with an audience!"

Solly nodded. "We should get down to it right now."

Gloria giggled as Solly started to improvise.


"See the jungle is a tough place - you don't want to go in unprepared," The
Sgt Major waded through the undergrowth, pushing it as flat as he could with
his baton.

"No Sarge - I'll bear that in mind the next time."

"You see the thing is..." he paused. What was that noise? It sounded a bit like
a hyena having a fight with a bear. A hyena? In India?

"Stay very still," the Sgt Major warned.

"What is it?" Sugden whispered.

The Sgt Major inched forward slowly until he got a good glimpse through the

"Oh heavens," he said and gulped.

Lofty was too short to see whatever it was, "Do you see it - is it big?"

The Sgt Major coughed, "Well, you could definitely say that lad." He was
finding it difficult to tear himself away. 

"Let me see!"

"No!" The Sgt Major said panicked. There were some things it was best not to
see. But it was too late, Sugden had manoeuvred himself into a position
where he could see exactly what was going on.

"Oh, my." He said, blinking.

"We should leave them to it I think - best not disturb that kind of rehearsal
eh." The Sgt Major was sweating a bit now.

"What you mean you're not going to put them on a

"I.." He didn't know what to say. He took out a large handkerchief and wiped
the sweat from his face.

"Does that mean you're all right about that sort of thing then Sarge?"

"What?" The Sgt Major was a little shocked by the question.

"Only if you want, I'd be willing to do a little rehearsing myself."

The Sgt Major couldn't believe he was hearing this. Gunner Sugden was the
last one he would have suspected of such proclivities.  He must have got the
wrong end of the stick.

"You do know what they're doing don't you lad?"

"Oh yes. It's not like it's something I haven't seen before - but if you're all
right about it..." He left the sentence unfinished. If the Sgt Major was going
to put him on a charge - now was the time.

"Are you serious lad?" 

"Oh yes. But I'll understand if you don't want to - I know I'm not the most
handsome man in the world."

"Well if it comes to that nor am I." The Sgt Major admitted.

Gunner Sugden's face lit up as he smiled. "Does that mean you're up for it?
No one else needs to know."

"Just us and the long grass eh lad?" The Sgt Major grinned. He knew he was
letting himself in for an awful lot of trouble here, but it suddenly seemed
irrelevant. It wasn't as if anyone cared about that sort of thing around here. 

"And I'm just about the right height for some things," a great beamy smile
spread across the gunners face as the Sarge raised his eyebrows.

"I knew there was a reason I've always liked you lad."  He smiled.


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