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[Groop] McAuslan vs. Groo: A comparison

  I thought the Groo lovers out there who are World-War-Two buffs (like
me), read war stories or just enjoy -really- well-thought-out (and 
funny) descriptive fiction, might like to hear about the McAuslan series
of short stories written by George MacDonald Fraser.  They are out of
print in the US, but you should be able to find them in your local
library.  A quick rundown of the premise:

Lt. MacNeill, D. of the 2nd Battalion, Gordon Highlanders is a
Scottish platoon commander in Libya and Scotland in 1945-47, just
postwar.  His greatest burden, and sometime blessing, is that he has the
bumbling and extremely dirty Private McAuslan in his unit.  Based loosely
on Fraser's own experiences as a junior officer, these are GREAT
stories.  Some are just hilarious farces, and some a bit more reflective,
but they all reproduce perfectly the atmosphere of peacetime
soldiering.  They also capture the flavor of the Highland Division,
complete with incomprehensible accents (don't worry, there's a glossary).

To get back to Private McAuslan and his many similarities to Groo:  First
off, he's a total military disaster.  His rifle is always rusty, he
marches with left foot and left arm in unison (just think about it for a
second), and he crouches at attention rather than stands.  Worse, he is
disgustingly dirty, having to be "locked in cupboards during 
inspections" and "washed forcibly by his mates."  As the Company Sergeant
Major points out, "He's wan o' nature's blunders.  He cannae help bein'
horrible; it's a gift."  Sound familiar? :)

	What's more, McAuslan LOOKS like Groo, only messier.  I can't find
any GOOD pictures of the covers on the net, but you can get vague glimpses
of two of them at:




Like Groo, McAuslan is dirty, stupid, has a sense of justice (albeit a
blindfolded one), and a distinct tendency to drink, get into brawls, and
find himself clapped into the cooler.
	Yet, also like Groo, McAuslan is very, very lucky.  He has, among
other things, saved the football (soccer) team's pay from a betting
parlor (by mistake), been instrumental as a caddy in winning a
regimental golf tournament (by mistake), singlehandedly won a company
excercise/wargame (by mistake), destroyed Lt. MacNeill's dress uniform (by
mistake) and gotten through a court-martial with an acquittal (not sure
whose mistake this was).  In a sense, he is similar to Gomer Pyle in that 
he's a clumsy man with a semi-gentle soul, but far more disgusting, and
MacNeill, the narrator, is similar to Sgt. Carter in that he can't stand
McAuslan yet is often found defending "the Highland Division's answer to
Peking Man."  
	Oh yes, this is all based on truth.  There really was a McAuslan
at Alamein.  Even the most unbelievable tales in the books have the ring
of truth to them.

MacNeill writes, "McAuslan was probably at Cannae and Pharsalia, and
hasn't washed since.  And he'll still be crouching at attention, with his
bayonet rusty and his buttons undone, when the ranks fall in for
Armageddon."  In other words, he's positively Groosome :).  MacNeill
looks forward to getting out of the service because McAuslan "could get
tight, go absent, lose his rifle, fall in the Clyde, assault the Lord
Provost, or lose the atomic bomb (he'd scored four out of six on those, so
far) [and I could say it was nothing to do with me.]."  

Some of the stories are humorous, some reflective and some poignant, but
they are all very well written and a fine tribute to combat veterans of
any stripe.  Like the Groo tales, they may be hilarious, but there's a
moral in there, somewhere. 

If this sounds like Groo to you, look up the books.  Just don't be daunted
by the Scottish lingo, and you won't be disappointed.  Written by George
MacDonald Fraser, they are:

The General Danced at Dawn
McAuslan in the Rough
The Sheikh and the Dustbin

Jen Burdoo
Groo lover (but too late; they need to get those compilations down the
pike faster so I can catch up)

Groop maillist  -  Groop@groo.com