Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Getting back in the saddle

I have got to get a post up. Lost my blogpal 2 weeks ago. Been spending a lot of time with what has unofficially become The Lexians who, I have to say, have rallied round and stuck together in an amazing way. What great people.

Neptunus Lex, Capt. Carroll LeFon USN Ret'd, was a great writer and prolific blogger. I am kicking my arse back into gear with a couple of bits, totally plagiarised but in the spirit of brother Lex who, like yours truly, loved the historical novelist Patrick O'Brian. So below is an extract from "The Fortune of War" and I chose it specifically as we await a funeral for our chum. Following that is a link to a BBC Radio 4 broadcast that although involves flying, is more in my old domain than Lex's, but I think he'd have loved it - a poet in a police helicopter. I can't get more Lex than that. It's all I've got at the moment.

    `You spoke of a funeral?`
   `We bury poor Lawrence of the Chesapeake`.
   `Should I come too? I can be ready in a moment. I should be very willing to show the respect I feel, if it is usual`.
   `No, the custom is only men of the same rank, apart from those detailed to attend and his own officers`.
All the post-captains in Halifax were gathering on the gunwharf; he knew most of them, but he only had time to greet one or two before the clock struck; exact to the minute the coffin came ashore with its escort of Marines, and the cortege formed behind it, the few American officers who could walk, the soldiers, the captains two by two, the generals and the Admiral.
   They marched to the sound of a muffled drum, and the cheerful streets fell silent as they came. Jack had taken part in many processions of this kind, some of them very poignant indeed - shipmates, close friends, a cousin, his own officers or midshipmen - but he never regretted an enemy commander as he regretted Lawrence, a man quite after his own heart, who had brought his ship into action and had fought her in the handsomest manner. The steady beat, the marching steps in time, caused the bitter disappointments of this morning to fade from his mind; and at the exactly-ordered ceremony, the chaplain's ritual words, and the rattle of earth on the coffin, made him very grave indeed. The firing party's volley, the last military honours, jerked him from his thoughts, but not from his gravity. Although death was so much a part of his calling, he could not get rid of the image of captain Lawrence standing there on his quarterdeck just before the first devastating broadsides; and he found the reviving cheerfulness among his companions particularly jarring.  It was not that their respect for the dead man was feigned, nor that their formal bearing until the time the gathering broke up was hypocritical, but their respect was for an unknown, though certainly brave and able commander - respect for the abstract enemy, for officerlike conduct.
   `You knew him, I believe?` said his neighbour, Hyde Parker of the Tenedos.
   `Yes, said Jack. He came to see me in Boston. He had captured one of my officers when he took the Peacock, and he was very kind to him. He commanded their Hornet, you know:a fine gallant fellow. As gallant as you could wish.`
   `Aye,` said Hyde Parker, `that's the devil of it. But you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, you know; you can't have a victory that counts without a butcher's bill`.

From the British/American War of 1812 to present day London. Hope my American friends can get it via the below link. Enjoy:



Old AF Sarge said...

HD - Nice to see a new post from you, and an excellent choice it is. Ever read any Alexander Kent? I have simply got to start reading O'Brian. (Don't know why I've waited so long...)
Old AF Sarge

Hogdayafternoon said...

Old AF Sarge:
Cheers. O' Brian has 21 books in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Have you seen the film Master and Comander? Kent is good. I've read the Douglas Reeman ww2 books, I think that's Kent too, under his nom de plume. Real blood and guts. Hope that BBC link works for you in the U.S. too.
So many good books out there! So little time.

Justthisguy said...

I remember reading that book, in which Cap'n Aubrey showed up in a very unlikely boat with those two obvious Aspies, Diana and the Doctor.

I remember how the officers put on a good shave and their best uniforms, out of respect for their enemy.

Justthisguy said...

Diana Villiers was the perfect ideal of an 18th-century nerd girl. The Doctor had an obsessive autistic perseveration about her; he chased her halfway around the planet and employed detectives to report on her, and then fought a duel over her which dang near killed him.

I think of The Doctor as a kindred soul, but then, I'm somewhat strange, m'self.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I agree, it's time we get our fuzzy little butts back online. I don't think Lex would want us to continue to be morose and sad. He loved life, ( just like Ebenezer Scrooge and the Chost of Christmas Yet to Come, in the musical SCROOGE ). Lex was our friend, and our love for him will never diminish, but we must honor his love of life by getting back to ours. But we shall always reread his stories, and celebrate life by continuing to meet and associate is sites like this, cause youse guys are Badger Approved!

Hogdayafternoon said...

JTG: What a piece of work she is.

The Badger: Try that link and let me know if you can get the programme. You, particularly, will really enjoy it - a night in a Met helo over London, accompanied by a poet. True Lexian ear candy.

Old AF Sarge said...

HD - Actually Douglas Reeman is the author's real name, Alexander Kent is his nom de plume. I have indeed seen the film Master and Commander, loved it. I have a real love for the age of "wooden ships and iron men". Early in my sojourn here in Rhode Island I was on the naval base and saw a three-masted ship sailing up Narragansett bay. As I watched, I realized it was a warship (a frigate actually). Later on that day, through the internet, I discovered that the ship was a full-scale reproduction of HMS Rose. I later saw her tied up at the pier in Bristol (R.I. that is) and had a closer look. Some time later I heard that the ship was leaving her home in Narragansett bay for parts unknown (to me at any rate). Seems that HMS Rose was re-configured and used in a movie. Lo' and behold, she became HMS Surprise in the movie Master and Commander!

And I absolutely concur with "So many good books out there! So little time." True, but I'm working on it! But now I must return to the activities which pay the bills. "Hands aloft, loose topsails!"
Old AF Sarge

Marcus Erroneous said...

HD - Welcome back! Good to see you out and about again. And this is an excellent selection to set things back into motion.

Haven't read this author, thank you for introducing me. Upon completion of my current labors I'll dive in. I'll also try the link for the helo.


aniemyer said...

Thanks for the wonderful moment with Jack Aubrey. It was a "New York Times Review of Books" piece on the "Wine Dark Sea" that got me started with "Master and Commander." They were a wonderful companion in the final years of my naval service, and I timed "Blue at the Mizzen" with my own retirement. What always struck me was the fact that O'Brien frequently wrote in the "voice" of the period; it was as if you were reading a book penned near contemporaneously with the period.

I believe it was reference on CDR Salamander's blog that has led me now to the late Alexander Fullerton's WWI and WWII Nick Everard series of books. I've never come across WWI naval literature until now, and they have led me down interesting paths to learn more. I've returned to Reeman, after devouring his books as a teen. I expect the intervening years will give me a much different perspective that before.

Hogdayafternoon said...

When you head out East, let me know and we'll go to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. There's a corner in there that the old timers on the staff call O'Brian's corner, where he poured over the archives. Accurate to a tee.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.. I read them all much too quickly - I do miss reading O'Brian also.