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October 16 , 2010

The Sheik and the Dustbin


Private McAuslan, J., The Dirtiest Soldier in the World (alias the Tartan Caliban, or the Highland Division's answer to Pekin Man) first demonstrated his unfitness for the service in' The General Danced at Dawn'. He continued his disorderly advance, losing, soiling, or destroying his equipment, through the pages of' McAuslan in the Rough. The Sheikh and the Dustbin 'pursues the career of the great incompetent as he bauchles (see Glossary) across North Africa and Scotland, swinging his right arm in time with his right leg and tripping over his untied laces. His admirers already know him as court-martial defendant, ghost-catcher, star-crossed lover and golf caddie extraordinary; here he appears as the most unlikely of batmen to his long-suffering protector and persecutor, Lieutenant Dand MacNeill, as guardroom philosopher and adviser to the leader of the Riff Rebellion and even as Lance Corporal McAuslan, the Mad Tyrant of Three Section. Whether map-reading his erratic way through the Sahara by night or confronting Arab rioters, McAuslan's talent for catastrophe is as sure as ever.

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