With all the grim predictability that the White Star Line employees must have had regarding the jewel in their nautical crown about one hundred years ago, as that ever-so-tedious iceberg hoved into view, and that the fact that the ship didn’t quite have the turning circle of a polo pony, it is my duty to report that the situation has got worse. Having callously crowed that the amount of violence reducing and that a true enemy of soldiers deployed on operations was boredom, it was perhaps inevitable that the last couple of weeks have been anything but.

We just had our busiest stretch of the tour and this is only going to increase as the orchestra in Kandahar plays out. The fact that we have been so utilised is good. It helps the time go more quickly, and I think there is not a young man (or woman) deployed here who does not keenly desire to be involved and ‘doing their bit’.

The sad fact is that the last few days have been brutal in the province. ISAF have suffered a large number of losses, both killed and seriously injured. There has been another spate of members of the Afghan National Police being executed off duty, and the amount of Improvised Explosive Device incidents has risen steeply this week. I am not entirely sure what the catalyst for this is, although one credible school of thought is that with the elections just a fortnight away this may be a desperate attempt to de-stabilise the region, and the country in order to drive a wedge between the population and the agencies of governance. I hope the population are not negatively swayed.

One of the most unpleasant actions of last weekend was a multiple murder. A female politician, who is running for re-election, suffered a large number of her small office and support staff being clinically murdered by insurgents. She is still running for office, and I for one cannot help but admire her. That there are those that can be so catastrophically cruel and myopic, based on gender discrimination is choking. This comes after another female politician was murdered in April in Baghlan. It serves as another stark reminder of the chasmic differences between our two countries and the difficulties some people are having to endure in order to make a difference.

Genuine surprises are few and far between. The Policeman with a speed camera hiding on the Woodstock Road last year and the time I was told I was cast as Titania (Queen of the fairies) in the school production of ‘A midsummer Night’s Dream’ when I was 14 (my voice hadn’t broken, so I started on the Marlboro Reds immediately and was soon reading the much more macho role of Bottom), being two examples. I was taken aback last week when it was brought to my attention that this bilge that I pass-off as a column and blog, due to the InterWeb, has been read by many thousands, and the responses were touching. A big thank you to all of you who sent me birthday wishes and kind thoughts, to those that made suggestions for the SOUPs (Single Officer Unnecessary Purchases) and anyone who has taken the time to comment. At the risk of gushing like an under-water BP oil well, it means a great deal that people in the UK take such a positive interest in their soldier’s welfare. Thank you again.

If there is an occurrence that has had me in a constant wide-eyed state of awe, marvel and fear during the five years since I was commissioned, it is a soldier's capacity for propelling pint upon gallon of nitrous flavoured air between buttocks and then further-a-field. If the IPCC is so worried about ‘anthropogenic climate change’ it could do worse than start with a thorough examination of the diet of some of my men. Anyway, as several weeks in extremely close proximity beckon, I would like to take this opportunity to remind Cpl Stead that whilst the frequent fearsome ferocity of his flatulence is in many respects big and clever, I am just about to start writing your annual report.

As the temperature slowly starts to drop as we approach the season ‘o’ mists and mellow fruitfulness’ the wildlife concern turns in the direction of the mosquito. Whilst these airborne disease-bearers of the insect world must exist for some higher purpose, I am entirely ignorant of what that may be. The worry is that if they are going to appear on the same size scale as the local ant community, it will be akin to being bitten by an albatross with teeth. I fell that a phalanx of windmills may be a more appropriate defence than netting. I shall be incommunicado for a couple of weeks now (groans of ecstasy), so all that remains is to wish Dandino the best and to make all in the St. Ledger next on Saturday.