Friday, November 30, 2007

Naval manoeuvres

I was out for dinner last night locally, where a certain famous Island Scot was regalling us with tales of yesteryear.
Whilst in the Navy in the 50s for his National Service, he had served on a ship as an officer which was stationed in Malta. With leave owing he decided to take a trip to Rome, and was making plans when the ship's Catholic priest stopped him and asked if he would make up the numbers for a visit to the Pope ( then Pius XII). Apparently this particular priest had a slot booked every year but needed to produce a certain number to maintain it, and he was short a few bodies that particular year.
Despite being firmly Calvinist, the Islander agreed, as it would mean a free trip and visit to St. Peter's.
He duly attended, kissed the ring and received a medallion, which he has used ever after to gain advantage when the chance arose. He mentioned particularly the Maltese jollyboat sailors, who would wait for him ignoring Admirals and the like.
However, when he got back to his ship, he was promptly arrested and hauled before a Board of Enquiry full of gentlemen sporting acres of scrambled egg.
An officious little tit ( the Islander's words) had reported him for meeting a Head of State in incorrect dress. At the time ( and to this day for all I know) Naval Officers, when meeting Heads of State MUST wear their full dress uniforms. The Islander, of course, was wearing his kilt, as you do. It's truly amazing the offers you get and the general bonhommie this engenders - you only need to ask the Tartan Army.
The Admiral in charge asked the Islander how he wanted to plead. " Guilty with extentuating circumstances". The Admiral eyed him speculatively. " I don't know that I want to hear this... but (sigh) I suppose I must."
"Well, Sir, as I am not a Catholic I decided the Pope would look more favourably on me in a kilt. And, Sir, it was a very hot day, so I wanted to let my tadger..." " ENOUGH," said the Admiral." Case dismissed"
One of his shipmates was a mere AB, but from a very very grand Scottish family. The AB was offered a commission, but much preferred to have no responsibility. Unfortunately, his father died during this posting, and the AB was obliged to make arrangements to return his father's Order of the Thistle to the Queen.
He made an appointment with the Captain.
" Yes AB, what do you want"
" Please Sir, permission to visit the Queen." The Captain opined he had thirty seconds to explain himself and it better be good.
The AB explained as rapidly as possible.
" Hm" said the Captain." So what do I have to call you now?"
" Your Grace, Sir"