Everett says he never played soldiers as a child, not even with his brother, and that “all the VCs and the uniforms” never appealed to him because he was always dressing up as Julie Andrews instead. But what about as an adult? Does he not agree with Dr Johnson that every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier? He shakes his head and mouths the word “No”.
So he was never curious about testing his courage on the battlefield? “You can do that on stage.” Without bullets? “Oh, but there are! Critics can kill.” Hardly the same. “It is the same! Exactly the same!”
OK, take another example. Say an al-Qa’eda bomb goes off in this street and another one is expected to go off, would he not be curious to know how he would react? Find out if he is brave or cowardly, selfish or altruistic? “Oh, but I do know. I’d be running for the exit and leaving you to pay the bill.”
Really? With all those VCs in the genes? What if he surprised himself and became a hero? “OK, you don’t know how you’re going to behave, but no one in the Army these days knows how they’re going to behave either.
“In Burton’s day they were itching to get into the fray. Now it is the opposite. They are always whining about the dangers of being killed. Oh my God, they are such wimps now!
“The whole point of being in the Army is wanting to get killed, wanting to test yourself to the limits. Now you have to fly 15,000ft above the war zone to avoid getting hit. I don’t think there is any point in having wars if that’s how you’re going to behave. It’s pathetic. All this whining!”
You can’t say that, Rupert! “You can. The whole point of being in the Army is going to war and getting yourself blown up. That and p—ing on prisoners. Yet we all get shocked by Abu Ghraib. Oooh!” He puts his hand to his mouth as if scandalised.
“But that’s war. If you don’t like that side of it, don’t do it. Of course soldiers are going to p— on the first prisoners they take. It goes with the territory.”
That’s not why they do it, though, I say. If you are a British soldier risking your life in Iraq and Afghanistan, you are motivated by a sense of duty and principle.
“No, you do it because you are a nasty, jammy —t and you want to p— on everyone. That’s what drew you to the Army and that’s what they pay you for. They pay you to tie up prisoners and attach electrodes to their nipples and testicles and p— on them. Don’t let’s complain that only the Americans do that. That is a horrible double standard.”