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"Thank you for calling the British Army, I'm sorry, but all of our units are out at the moment, or are otherwise engaged. Please leave a message with your country, name of organisation, the region, the specific crisis and a number at which we can call you.




As soon as we have sorted out the Balkans, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, marching up and down bits of tarmac in London and compulsory Equal Opportunities training, we will return your call.




Please speak after the tone, or if you require more options, please listen to the following numbers:




If your crisis is small and close to the sea, press 1 for the Royal Marines.




If your concern is distant, with tropical climate and good hotels and can be solved by one or two low risk bombing runs, please press '#' for the Royal Air Force. Please note that this service is not available after 1530 hours or at weekends.




If your enquiry concerns a situation which can be resolved by a grey funnel, some bunting, flags, a damn good cocktail party and a first class marching band, please write, well in advance, to The First Sea Lord, The Ministry of Defence, Whitehall, London SW1.




If your enquiry is not urgent, please press 2 for the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.




If you are in real, hot trouble please press 3 and your call will be routed to Sandline International.




If you are interested in joining the Army and wish to be shouted at, paid little, have premature arthritis in both knees, put your wife and family in a condemned hut miles from civilisation and are prepared to work your b* * * * * * * off daily, risking life and limb in all weathers and terrain, both day and night, whilst watching the treasury erode your original terms and conditions of service, then please stay on the line. Your call will shortly be connected to a bitter passed-over Recruiting Sergeant in a grotty shop behind the railway station.




Have a pleasant day and thank you again for trying to contact the British Army."


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