First Boiler Clean & Kissing

At intervals the Hunt destroyer had to go into dock to have the boiler tubes cleaned as they became choked with salts from the water used to make steam. Part of the crew not on watch was allowed on leave for the four days it took. I decided to go to London to see my Mother and friends. My family, like many at that time, while not unique were still living as if Victoria was still on the throne. We didn’t show emotion, and sentiment was laid on like gold leaf. Kissing was certainly a rarity.

On board the night train from Edinburgh to Euston, I was to learn the rules of the game of Brag, a version taught by stokers, Those night trains were an experience. Almost totally blacked out, masks had been placed over the corridor and carriage lights, illuminating a narrow strip of light in stops and starts along the gangway and across the knees of the seated passengers in the carriages, so they could read. People were just vague figures with illuminated laps in the case of women, generally in rough khaki or navy-blue serge, with brown or black lisle stockings emerging from a short skirt. I found a seat in a compartment where a naval great-coat covered the knees and Brag was being played. . From the start it was totally loaded against me because by the time I had learned what few rules there were and mastered the rudiments I had lost every penny I had on boarding the train, which amounted to about two months pay. Having borrowed the tram fare, I left Euston, deflated and depressed. As I got closer to home my spirits rose, after all I was a sailor home from the sea, and proud of it. I envisaged big hugs of joy because I was still in one piece. I had forgotten Queen Vicky! As I walked down the hall I saw my mother working in the kitchen, ‘Hello!’ she said, turning her head. ‘Put the kettle on I’ll be with you in a minute’, and that was that, it was as if I had only come home from the office. I should have remembered.

So it is not surprising that I find the current practice of hugging and kissing on meeting, even between casual acquaintanceships, bizarre to say the least and embarrassing in my own case. For me kissing is a significant expression of love and reserved for my special few. Some years ago I used doggerel to vent my views. I am incapable of posting doggerel on the Blog as it is normally writ- read it at your peril!


They’re kissing air, kissing past my face, never hitting base. Kissing everywhere, Kissing into space. Am I unclean, just a bit malodorous? Maybe not – perhaps just too presumptuous. Kissing me, would Beauty find preposterous? Maybe else, cosmetically disastrous. I find it strange, this current craze, of course I know, it’s just a phase, started by the Arty, worried what they’d catch at a party. When I was young you kissed your Mum, and Aunts with plenty of lolly. When I was older and bolder, it was all just fun and folly. Then came the bit where kissing meant something more, a sentiment, not taken in jest, not lightly, the meaning clear and unlikely to be confused, misunderstood. From then there was no likelihood that kissing was a social grace, an empty gesture with no place for subtle nuances of love, paternal, filial, and above else sexual connotation, not for general misquotation. So please forgive me if you find, I’m not a kisser, the kind so prevalent today I find, I’m really not at all inclined

Categorized as Frivolity

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