As if my week hasn't been bad enough, my friend JAGSC has just invited my attention to the end of ship building for Her Majesty's Royal Navy in Portsmouth. A very long era ends, from Henry VIII's fighting carrack Mary Rose to the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, due for sea trials year after next.
That's a lot of imperial scurvy and lime juice punctuated by routine entertainment with the cat-o-nine-tails and the occasional stiff-upper-lip extravaganza known as flogging around the fleet. Too, it is said that Portsmouth developed the first practical yard arm which could bear the weight of an insolent Jack Tar and half a stone of stout hempen line.
I mourn the end of most traditions, but as the direct descendant of an Irish-American who shot at Redcoats 1776-1783, I suppose I should feel smug about this one. Final victory of a sort and all that. Maybe.
The Royal Navy isn't what it used to be, but up through the middle decades of the 20th Century it helped serve a personal purpose for the likes of me.
The socialist goodthinks who, post-Churchill, captured British politics retained an urge to sail around and wag their (now empty) cannons at commies and wogs. That gave Yanks like me an excuse to put on bell bottoms and dixie cups and go to the Oriental seas, loaded to pull Albion's nuts out of the fires again.
It wasn't a terribly bad way to come of age. As Mr. Kipling explained, "...the things that you learn from the yellow and brown ...".
I'm humming some Oscar Brand here, but already having offended about everyone I can think of, I won't compound my sins by typing out his lyrics.
JAGSC remarks that Lord Nelson may somewhere be mounting a "spirited" protest. :)