Although I was a British Army soldier in my youth – a ‘Pongo’ to those Ratings of the so-called Senior Service, I was, non-the-less initiated into the delights of the daily rum ration. It happened in the Persian Gulf back in the 1960s as a guest aboard the ‘Ton’ Class minesweeper HMS Kemerton for a week or ten days. Kemerton was hardly part of the ‘Wooden Walls of England’ but she was knocked up out of marine ply and had all the speed and manoeuvrability of a back yard hot-tub!
‘Ton’ Class minesweeper
That said, the crew were a cheery lot and keen to initiate us into the pleasures of the daily ‘Pusser’s‘ rum ration, the issue of which was preceded by the jolly call of the bosun’s pipe and the bellowing of ‘Up Spirits!’ We Pongos learned about the value of favours done and the currency of rum. A little favour would earn you ‘sippers‘ and progressed through ‘gulpers‘ to ‘three fingers‘ to a full ‘tot‘ for those favours best not discussed here! That operating expensive machinery, as opposed to pulling on bits of rope, and dishing out 1/8th of a pint (admittedly watered down 2:1) of 109 degree proof spirit per man per day were not conducive to steering a straight course was not lost on their Lordships and the ration was discontinued in 1970.
We also got swung about in a bosun’s chair and learned that any old Arab dhow can out-run (and probably out-gun) the Royal Navy any old time.
So, why is someone of my gineration rambling on about this stuff? Don’t know really except there is a rather loose connection between oil, spirits and the biggest of favours!
All these years later my joints are showing signs of wear and tear and despite some expensive treatments they persist in being a pain in the arse. Recently I was introduced to Juniper oil and have been mixing it 4:1 with Calendula oil and rubbing it into my joints. It works! Psychosomatic or real, I don’t care, it works!
Are you spotting the connections here? Ships run on oil – knees run on oil! Rum gets mixed with water – Juniper with Calendula! The final connection – spirits! For generations rum solved every problem ‘Jack Tar’ ever encountered, made every job easier. For my gineration it is Mulberry Gin – Cheers!
Just remember, you drink the gin and rub the oil! And before you raise your eyes to the heavens at getting to this point and realising it was all a waste of time you need to know that up here in the mountains it is nearly June, it is piddling down and we are still lighting a fire to keep warm. What else am I supposed to do?
Alan Fenn. ‘. . talkin’ ’bout my gineration’
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