soldierI was at a dinner table recently when two Belgians began to reminisce about their time in the Army, doing their military service. They each recounted anecdotes about their sergeants which may well be apocryphal but are well worth repeating here. The first was teaching his charges French (this is Belgium, remember). ‘All plurals in the French language,’ declared the sergeant, end with the letter s.’ One of his pupils put up his hand. ‘Are you sure, sir?’ he asked. ‘What about chou/choux?’ The sergeant thought for a few seconds. ‘You are right,’ he said. ‘All plurals in the French language end with the letter s – with the exception of vegetables.’ The second was teaching his charges science. ‘Water,’ the sergeant declared, ‘boils at 90°.’ One of his pupils put up his hand. ‘Are you sure, sir? I thought it was 100°.’ The sergeant shook his head sorrowfully. ‘Now, now. Just because you’ve been to university. But, all right, I’ll check over the lunch break.’ After the lunch break the class reassembled. ‘You were right,’ admitted the sergeant; ‘water boils at 100°. I was getting confused; it’s a right angle that’s at 90°.’