Commander Justin Richardson
The first fundamental of nautical skill
The thing that our sailors imbibe from their nannies
The cardinal basis is this: that they will
Tie decent respectable knots, never ‘grannies’
But even this standard has gone by the board
The Navy is suffering war-time dilution
And cases occur in which innocent cord
Is knitted in knots beyond human solution.

In H.M.S. Cockbill, a cruiser, there lurked
A threat to the nation named Algernon Skinner
And ropes upon which comrade Algie had worked
Made comrade Laocoon look a beginner
He tangled his scarf in a knot round his neck
Which skilled engineers were unable to sever
He lashed up his hammock - and slept on the deck
(When Algie lashed hammocks he lashed them for ever).

How did it happen (and well you may ask)
When Cockbill was visiting Rio con Fetti
That Algie, of all men, was given the task
Of tying the ship to the end of the jetty
Was it culpable negligence? Rule 18 B?
Was the captain allergic to farewell orations?
Was it pure xenophobia? Felo de se?
Amnesia? Treachery? Gout? Palpitations?

I don’t know the answer, I don’t even care
I stick to the facts of how Cockbill departed
The mayor and the whole population were there
Making speeches and singing and being big-hearted
The appropriate orders were given - and heard
A sense of expectancy, almost uncanny
Descended on everyone. Nobody stirred -
Including the ship, she was tied with a ‘granny’.

From the hooter and captain there issued a blast
Which paralysed even the stokers with terror
But Algie had done it. The Cockbill was fast
Then once again somebody fell into error
“Yes,” someone said, “Full speed astern, and we’re clear.”
And 5,000,000 h.p. surged into motion
The Cockbill departed. But so did the pier
Projecting the populace into the ocean.
Was Algernon smacked on his sensitive spots?
Was he pulped? Was he trodden as flat as a wafer?
He wasn’t. Since officers never tie knots
They made him an officer. Kinder (and safer).
The end