Ian Whybrow

…coming soon…

March 20th Fannying About

March 20, 2013 - Filed under: Blog - Leave a comment

My dad was a Navy man. At the age of 8 he became a Boreman Boy, wore a sailor’s uniform and attended school at what is now the Royal Maritime Museum at Greenwich. At 13 he had a choice about whether to join the Merchant Navy or the Royal Navy; he chose the latter and stuck to it for thirty years.

I thought about him today at breakfast as I enjoyed another rummy spoonful of the delicious Fortnum and Mason Pusser’s Marmalade, my present from the generous James Peak at Mindshapes when we met at F and M for tea the other day. Not that Dad was a drinker. As a matter of fact, he would swap his tot for fags, a habit that eventually clogged his poor old pipes and did him in.

It was the Pusser or Purser who doled out the daily rum ration to the ship’s company. According to Dad, the vessel from which the rum was measured was called a fanny. So it was that if I was enthusiastically grateful for a threepenny bit or an extra helping of pud, (or “Going round the buoy”) Dad used to say, “Yeah, leave your thanks in the fanny.”  Navy slang tripped off his tongue all the time. Going to the snob meant taking your shoes to the mender; “Up ladder, Jack!” was always the rebuke for selfishness and “Give her a wide berth” was his general advice about dodgy drivers. I’ve heard other people use all sorts of salty bits of lower-deck talk, but I’ve never heard anyone use the word “fanny” in quite the way Dad did. It was different from Sweet Fanny Adams. The poor thing was murdered, cooked and eaten in a pie, so at first her name acquired a grim synonymity with rubbishy food and then with anything worthless. But Sweet FA was not what Dad was on about and   I can’t find any reference to “fanny” as rum-vessel. Now I’m wondering if he made it up. Da-a-ad!

Delighted by the enthusiastic response from Oxhey Wood Primary to test my reading experiment. Let’s hope it will make a difference.

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