How to behave in Iraq

As the year turns and US troops look forward to extricating themselves finally from Iraq, a guide has appeared that sets out how to achieve victory in the battle for hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Surfacing now, six years after the invasion, it may come as a surpise — and certainly qualifies as tardy. However, it has lain buried even longer than that: This little tome predates Shock and Awe by all of sixty years.

An ambassador of goodwill

An ambassador of goodwill

Events in Iraq in 1941, described in Memories of Eden, resulted in a British invasion and a pogrom (the Farhud) which foretold the end of the oldest Jewish community in the Diaspora. Churchill had ordered regime change in Baghdad after a Nazi tyrant seized power, threatening Britain’s vital oil interests.

One year later, US forces were sent to Iraq to help protect the oil fields and deliver supplies to Russia under Roosevelt’s Land Lease programme. To make sure they fulfilled their roles as ‘ambassadors of goodwill’ they were presented with what constituted a crash course in local history, culture, customs and language. Originally published in 1943 by the War and Navy Departments in Washington DC, it has since lain on the shelves, forgotten, until now. With poignant timing, it has been reproduced in facsimile edition* and makes fascinating reading in the light of recent history.

usforces-coverTo quote the Preface of this 2008 edition: ‘For many Americans, Iraq conjured up romantic images of “the mysterious East” conveyed in early films, while for others it was completely unknown… The Guide inculcates a respect for the local civilization, its people, and its culture, attaching the utmost importance to a proper understanding of religious practice and the avoidance of unintended insult or injury based on ignorance of beliefs and customs.’

Read more, and some excerpts, in Features.

Happy New Year!

*Dark Horse Publications, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9556221-0-6. £4.99/$10.00.

Fox News

We sent a JPEG Christmas card to friends around the world over the weekend, prior to posting it here. We hope you like it – and would like to comment.  Scroll down after the image to see some of the reactions we’ve received so far! 


No way to prove it but my father did ride with the English on at least one hunt and the gentleman in the grey riding habit has the stature that resembles my father. – M.L, Montreal

 Iraq was not the only unlikely venue for foxhunting. There was one here: it went under the name of the Ramle Hunt and, as far as I remember, was active between the wars. There are foxes here, but, as in Iraq, jackals were the usual quarry. – R.A, Jerusalem

My father served in Mesopotamia between the wars and in those British Colonial days it was always referred to as Messpot.  – J.V, London

Priceless. You’d never believe it’s Iraq!­ – S.E, Brussels

I am enjoying reading your book. Many similar memories. Cheerio!! (as we used to toast in Northern Iraq!!, probably another British “alcoholic” influence). ­–Y.S, Los Angeles

This raises all sorts of questions, such as how did the indigenous population react to being treated like an extension of  British Indian rule? – G.K, London

What an amazing Christmas card – absolutely the best I’ve received. – N.D, London

Ek sao das means one hundred and ten.  Ek is one, sao is hundred, das is ten.  I still remember some of the Hindustani I used while living in Calcutta.

The British seem to have mesmerized the people in their colonies and in mandated Iraq to emulate their “pukka Sahib” ways. – D.M, Toronto

Sorry, I wrote “ex sao das” and stand corrected. By ‘ek! – Tony

About Tally Ho!

Pam in Montreal has just written to say: “I think (until someone tells me better) that Tally Ho is straight from the Arabic (come this way, follow me), something Crusaders could have picked up?”

Nice one, Pam!  The mem-Sahib here has been trying that out with her Arabic (it sounds plausible:  ta’allee hon! ) but I can’t find anything to back it up on the net.  There’s a likelier possibility that it came from old French:

Two hundred years ago, according to a magazine of that date, the English fox-hunter’s cry was

” Tallio, Hoix, Hark, Forward,” which is a corruption of the French hunter’s call. Four hundred years ago the French hunter encouraged his dogs with the musical cry of “Thia-hilaud a qui forheur!” sometimes printed “Tya-hillaut a qui forheur!” (These huntsmen’s shouts are given in a quaint and rare old French book illustrated with the strange pictures of the day and entitled “La Venerie de Jacques du Fouilloux, a Paris 1573.”) From this the English manufactured “Tallio, hoix, hark, forward.” Later it has been abbreviated to simply “Tally-ho.”

I picked that up from

Wikipedia seems to agree.

Anyone any ideas?

Happy Christmas/Hannukah

We’re almost there, and wherever you are we wish you all the Compliments of the Season.

It’s been a busy time in the Roccary: MR is cooking up wondrous meals while planning an Iraqi feast for New Year’s Eve (t’beet, or not t’beet?), and TR has been cooking his head with WordPress. The results are on show now. The major changes are in Features and Press Reviews (in the menu bar at top). The geek department apologizes for an inability to come to terms with ‘jump  to’ links. Maybe there’s someone out there who can help (or understand what he’s saying)?

We’re sending our greetings electronically this year, using the lovely Jacquie Lawson website which is not only highly original and clever, but light years from Hallmark.

Merry whatever to all our readers!

hollyTony & Mira