Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Turn off the Tap!

I am fairly sure I have mentioned this before, possibly more than once, but I am an Army Brat. My father was in the British Army, as were my great uncle, my Old Contemptible great grandfather, my brother and assorted ancestors.

We lived in Germany as well as various parts of the UK. Wherever we were living though, there was always a regimental open day, when you could sit in the tanks, helicopters and get a close up long at other bits of kit. In the summer, my little brother and I would spend a lot of time going to work with Dad.  Every Remembrance Day we would remember those that died in various wars. When we lived in Arborfield we would go to the Aldershot Show. We would watch the Royal Tournament and Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the tele.

What has this all to do with beer? They say that an army marches on its stomach, and that stomach traditionally received a daily ration of ale, and they would buy beer from the local taverns wherever they were campaigning. It was during the War of the Austrian Succession that the British Army adopted the Dutch practice of "Doe den tap toe", which literally translates as "turn the tap to", or stop pouring the beer. Apparently the British Army made the tattoo, as it became known, into a signal played by the Pipes and Drums to the local publicans to get them to stop serving, and for the soldiers to get back to barracks at a decent hour.

The tattoo was, in effect, the call for last orders. Today though, a tattoo is a all about military bands and display teams, like the White Helmets, the King's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery and the Massed Bands, such as the Pipes and Drums in the video below.

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