“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968


Saturday, 21 July 2012

A right royal urban myth.

The proposed new Royal Yacht, or UK flagship as we call such vessels these days, is reckoned to give the economy a boost by in some way  promoting the inventiveness of British industry, honesty of British banking and so on. That such a hugely extravagant PR exercise could in any way benefit the ordinary walking round the streets members of the population is such nonsense, and such believable nonsense,  that it should be categorised as "urban myth". Most urban myths are harmless. Vanishing hitchhikers, insects that take up residence in a beehive hairdo and bore into your skull and similar Fortean occurrences. Some however are far from harmless and a  particularly nasty one was going the rounds when West Indians first started to make a home in London. The story was that these simple folk from the Caribbean lived on  KitiKat, a brand of cat food popular at the time. It was arrant racist claptrap but you heard it repeated over and over and there was always someone who knew someone who had proof positive that it was all true. But as I say, most urban myths are harmless and some are downright rib splitters. Which brings me back to the Royal Yacht and an urban myth that if not actually true certainly should be. 
The story concerns the Royal Yacht Britannia and a young Queen Elizabeth. A plot was hatched on the lower deck to procure a royal souvenir that would remain a talking point for generations of old salts. I should point out that the tale dates back before ships had holding tanks for sewage and when the contents of  "the heads" just went straight out of a hole in the ships side. Anyway, negotiations were entered into and with the aid of a double tot of rum here and a favour returned there the plotters were able to get the information that they needed. When it had been established at what point in time Her Majesty was likely to be performing a Number Two and, most importantly, out of which shipside orifice the contents of the royal bowels would be ejected, the plot entered it's final phase . From then on it was simply a matter of by means of a series of whistles and hand signals to get a bucket attached to a line lowered over the side and strategically placed at the right time. Piece of piss as you might say. The royal turd was recovered, and if you believe the tale, given several coats of varnish before being mounted on a wooden plaque and displayed in the stokers mess. From such legends national identities are forged.

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