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He is ruled by QR’s( Queens Regulations) and AFO’s ( Admiralty Fleet Orders)
A sailor can be any colour or creed, and yet he observes the same attitude of being in turn, a profound lawyer, a cynical pessimist, a buzz spreading optimist and a victim of countless green rubs.
He can be found in, out of, around, beneath, on top, and swarming on ships of every shape and size, above and below the sea, yet his appearance never changes, nor his face portray any appreciation of his worthy profession.
He has money invested in shares with handles on, has amazing passion for consuming liquids and a cast iron digestion that consumes things such as “Oggies” to a pussers “Bangers”.
A sailor will drip every minute of the day and twice as badly after “tot time”. Talk of some strange “Dozen” that is the bain of his life, meanwhile venting his wrath on the “buffer” messdeck PO or Killicks …depending on who happens to be furthest away at the time.
Ashore, a sailor is a paragon of good manners and virtue. He is sociable and genial. He will sing dubious songs and ditties at the top of his voice, reeling like a storm tossed tug, yet the appearance of a white belted naval patrol seems to have the magical effect of subduing his voice and steadying his step.
He makes mental notes of pints consumed, old ladies who drink “scrumpy” and his best darts score, to relate during breakfast hour next day, much to the awe of his listeners.
A sailor dislikes pussers boots, hats and landyards, dhobeying overalls and blankets, efficiency tests, pay books, station cards, inspections, pulheems, mess bills, wakey-wakey, kit musters, crushers and returning from leave.
He likes very much, the rum call, Uckers, quarterly settlements, lurid books, reserve fleet drafts, long leave, mail, hammock/bunk, make and mends, tickler, and the girlfriend he dreams of up the line.
G.I’s find him maddening, his interpretation of rig of the day can resemble last week in a table cloth, while his apparently accidental footprints across the whiteness of the quarterdeck, can bring gray hairs to a raving buffer.
A Sailor is civility with a shabby cap tally, industry in the bilges, studiousness with a deck cloth, truth with fourteen days stoppage, initiative with a chipping hammer, and humour with a N.A.A.F.I pie.
There is none so true and loyal as he to the girl or wife, for whom he will save and behave, but should this better influence desert him, he becomes a man of little faith in human nature, a hard hearted being whose activities are confined to catching the first liberty boat to meet another of those unfaithful females.
He is an accomplished mender, sewer, dish washer, cook and server. He is a connoisseur of all wines, beers and spirits, from Scapa Flow to Capetown and Granada to Hong Kong. He knows the name of every barmaid and every pub at every port he has been, while his recollection of the exact location of those houses is truly bewildering.
His locker consists of beer labels, pussers yarn, marlin spikes, photographs (some even properly attired), bars of soap, tickler tins, and old letters. Like a Midshipmans sea chest, everything on top and nothing handy.
He relies on “Ops” sense of comradeship in borrowing collars, silks and shoes, to get ashore, nevertheless, he never seems to remember from whom they were borrowed.
He is a subtle combination of applied indifferences and patriotic concern.
The next time you see a sailor ashore, think of him as a human, then he will respect it that you know.
Buy him a pint and tell him a joke and remember, mine is a “brown and Mild”.