Diesel Weasel
Yorkie and Spud
3 O Boats
forward mess
Taff Hartvelt and me
derelict boats

A Trip to Blackpool

We did finally make it to Manchester for a jolly. A long and fairly tedious transit up the Manchester Ship Canal was rewarded by the architectural beauty that was Salford Docks. Four of us, Pony Moore, Spud Murphy, Taff Lloyd and myself, had decided to go to Blackpool for the day; a trip that lives in all our memories!

After pooling our subsistence money and donning our uniforms, we set off, via British Rail, for the northern Sin City that is Blackpool. Starting in Yate's Wine Lodge, we made our way towards the Pleasure Beach, stopping only for an improbable amount of liquid refreshment, some greasy fish and chips and, for the first time in my experience, half a dozen oysters. Thus we arrived at the Pleasure Beach funfair in a giddy state and promptly proceeded to shake up the dangerous contents of our stomachs on every roller-coaster, waltzer and wizzy-aroundy thing available. I'll confess that I'm not the world's greatest fan of roller-coasters or other engines designed to thrill. The Grand National was just about tolerable, a 1930s wooden roller-coaster where two cars race side by side. I best remember Pony blowing on a hooter he'd acquired somewhere, and Taff's hair standing up as we went over each bump. From there we moved on to a ride where you were required to sit on a model of a horse and then propelled, at (to me at least) high velocity around a course where bloody annhialation awaited some six feet below. If I thought that was bad, the Revolution took the biscuit. A (at that time) fairly recent ride, the Revolution actually described a 360 degree loop during its torturous course, I think that the others must have strong-armed me on to it. I was ready to get off after the first run, alas, the wretched thing repeats its journey, but in reverse. When we finally returned to the start I could feel the oysters swimming strongly againt the tide. The operator, clearly a throwback to the Spanish Inquisition, released our fellow travellers but kept the dozy matelots firmly locked in for a repeat performance. I insisted that we went on something calmer for the next ride, some Noddy cars which described a serene, mildly undulating, circuit fitted the bill. I used to have a marvellous photo of Spud sat in one of these cars. There he sat, the pride of the Brittanic Navy, arm, complete with its three gold badges, hanging outside the miniscule car and a totally bemused expression on his face. Sadly I lost the picture somewhere, but the image remains vivid in my memory.

We eventually left the Pleasure Beach and, after a visit to the Fun House(dozens of screeming kids and four inebriated submariners careening down slides), we made our way, via the watering holes, to a club at the top end of town. My oysters had completed their escape bid by this time so I was quite relieved when we left for the train station. The relief was short lived; the last train to Manchester had left some time earlier. Oh bugger! We were advised that if we could get to Balckburn we'd be able to get a train from there. A quick Jew's march-past of kitty and pockets mustered just enough for a taxi to Blackburn where, when we arrived at the station. we had a two hour wait for the train to Manchester. It was far from warm in the waiting room, but we got our heads down in time honoured fashion. Spud awoke us, teeth chattering, saying that the train was in, so off we toddled onto the gloriously warm carriage and back to sleep. Next thing the guard was shaking us awake "End of the line, lads". We were walking groggily down the platform when Pony pointed skywards and said "Isn't that Balckpool Tower?" doh!

When we finally made it back to Manchester we were due to go on a visit to the Exide factory, the manufacturers of submarine batteries. There was a rumour that they looked after the lads with copious amounts of beer, so we were up for it. Unfortunately as I emerged from the Accomodation Hatch the Jimmy, in a liversish mood, jumped on me insisting that I tidied myself up, put my cap on straight and turned down my cuffs. He was not in a good humour and glowered at me as I adjusted my wardrobe. At this point Pony Moore made his appearance on the casing. His cap was on the back of his head sans-cap tally, his cuffs were rolled back and, where his dolphins should have been, there was a large "I Rode the Revolution" badge. The Jimmy spat the dummy, veins on his head standing out in a dangerous fashion, he stopped both our leaves and ordered us back down the boat; he'd deal with us when he returned.

We'd got outside a crate of beer by the time he returned, "LMEM Moore, LMEM Sugden, report to the Sound Room." He was sat down when we arrived, he sprang to his feet and hit his head a resounding crack on the fan trunking. How we managed to stay straight faced I don't know, but he gave us a dressing down and blathered on about us being two of his best leaders blah, blah, blah, expected better blah, blah blah buck your ideas up etc etc. We, for our part, expressed our sorrow and shame at causing the near collapse of Naval discipline by rolling back uniform cuffs, and we all parted as friends, our liberty restored. Ironically we ended up in the same night club as the Jimmy that night. The party the Jimmy was sniffing after had a friend with whom I was chatting. "Hello Leader" the Jimmy chimed "Why aren't your cuffs turned back?"

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