by 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