Sunday 19 July 2015

What Did I Just Say?

While the media is throwing a hissy fit over the Royal family, purely incidentally our Heads of State, there is the question of Prince Philip.

Quite why a 94 year old, not in good shape and prone to lapses of the mind into an earlier life like so many aged persons, is not allowed to live quietly and gently I do not understand.

He has done 63 years before the mast, using a seafaring analogy, with time before that on Royal duties and before that was a junior naval officer who saw active service against Hitler's forces.

I have already said that you might take the junior naval officer out of the Navy, but you cannot take the Navy out of the junior naval officer.

My personal experience of seeing him in action in a couple of major conferences is of a man who turned up in a hurry, read the script in a direct manner and then left in a hurry to his next diary entry.  It is not much go on.

But my feeling is that I would not have liked to work with or for him and he certainly would not have wanted me to after probably a very short period.  I would have asked too many questions, am prone to flippancy and he is not very good, I suspect, of meaningful in depth  analysis and discussion.

It is the age factor, however, we should remember.  When my father was going on and around 90, when taking him out we were always in holy terror of his making remarks which might have been amusing in the 1920's but which did not suit at all modern feelings.  His time on the docks and in prize fighting gave, let us say, an edge to his humour.

At least I was used to this.  My grandfather whose thinking derived from the 1890's also had ideas, views and a sense of humour that was distinctly different from that of the etiquette of the 1920's and later.

His was honed by four years in the trenches.  There were also family members from the decades before with ideas not of their time by the 1940's.

But now I am old and trying very hard to button my lips at the moments when my young or teenage self attempts to escape from the back of the brain.

If it is very busy around me, or there is some stress or if I have lost track of the moment or am just tired and fed up, the embarrassing mistake is very easy to make, the words just pop out.

It is much easier and better if the occasion is one where there is not much to be said and then as little as possible, preferably in a clearly structured form where you only have to stick to the script.  It may be the formality that is out of fashion these days but it is a lot safer.

Better still, is to stay away from any sort of modern media event or public situation where with today's kit any moment, trip or slip or error is out there for all the world to see and to complain about.

Above all, do not ask me to sing after a stiff jug or two, it will have not just the family but everyone running for the exits.


  1. My father could be embarrassing by the time he reached 90. In many respects his world was more robust and forthright in ways we can barely even describe today.

  2. My father died of stomach cancer at the age of thirty-nine.

    I have a photograph of him standing with an oppo in a desolated Japanese town. I'm not sure if it is Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

    They are smiling.

  3. Philip has done his duty in many, many ways and still does. He's a man of his time, so he voices things which are wonderfully out of step with today's League of the Perpetually Offended.