Sunday, September 25, 2011


I suspect that many of us have used the word 'toe-rag' as in .... "Mallard is a toe-rag politician'.

Last Thursday I spent some quality time at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth. I discovered that 'toe-rag' is wrong. The correct expression is 'tow-rag'. In times of yore, when the Royal Navy was indulging itself on rum, sodomy and the lash, providing toilet paper to sailors was way down there in the Admiralty's thinking (OK, it probably hadn't been invented).

So what they did was to provide a mop like thing on a long rope which was dangled in the ships wake and hauled up by the sailor to clean his bum and thrown back again to self clean. Completely reusable provided a shark didn't take a fancy to it. That gives the expression far greater impact than toe-rag and sums up Mr Mallard perfectly.

Just along from that fascinating piece of history was a brass plate reading 'flogging will continue until morale improves'.

Will blog later on my visit to HMS Warrior and Victory


PM of NZ said...

While you're there, have a closer look at some of the older brick walls with vertically laid glass shards embedded along the top. Apparently multipurpose - one to keep the unwashed hordes out of HM Dockyard, the other to retain those in receipt of the King's shilling in. You notice such things after you've worked there for a while.

The Veteran said...

Yes, saw that.

In the Pub just across the road from the Dockyard Gates my son just had to show his services ID card to receive a massive 40% discount on food and drinks ... standard price for 2 pints of Peroni = 7 pounds 25p reduced to 4 pounds 35p.

Civilian Dockyard works get a 20% discount.

The Pub 100m further on didn't offer the same deal (and served REALLY crappy meals). No guesses
as to which one was crowded and which was not