Tradition and a Sickly Season

freedom of the city parade 1983

1983 – that’s me 3rd from the right, the two “hooks” indicate I was a Leading Seaman at the time.

In the Royal Navy and it’s descendants (RCN, RAN, RNZN), officers have a “toast” for each day of the week which they give at the evening meal – the practice continues even now for ceremonial dinners, if not the regular end of the work day dinners. As a signalman, and therefore keeper of all things ceremonial on board ship, I was required to know these off by heart.  So, from the locker in the dark recesses of my memory, where I keep useful stuff like morse code and the difference between KHz and MHz, I am able to dredge up the following:

Thursday’s toast is to “A bloody war and a sickly season”.  The inference of course is that the enemy should be the bloody and sickly ones, not “us”.

Sadly, not so around here.  It seems everyone around us had either colds or flu run through their family over the Christmas break, which we didn’t know because we kept pretty much to ourselves for the two weeks.  Once back at school and work however,  we soon found out  – and eventually succumbed, to a good old fashioned head cold.  We went at it in order of seniority, youngest first.  As the third to go down, I am just about over mine, which included losing my voice, much to the pleasure of the kids, and now hubby rolled out of bed very late and very slowly this morning, stuffy and watery eyes….I guess in keeping with tradition, the Captain should go last.  Hot lemon with honey for three of us was a crutch that got us through the sore throat phase, but the Captain says hot whiskey is what’s going to cure him…

Good thing we make a lot of chicken stock around here – I made a big batch of chicken soup each of the last two weeks, and I think it will do more good than the whiskey toddy.  We all know who really runs this ship anyway 🙂

Wanna know the rest of the toasts?  They start on Sunday, which used to be (and still is for some) the first day of the week:

  • Sunday:  to absent friends (there is usually a silent pause to consider those friends before raising the glass).  Absent can be taken to mean either friends that are elsewhere, or who have died.
  • Monday: Our ships
  • Tuesday: Our men (remember this is from the days of Lord Nelson and his ilk – no female sailors)
  • Wednesday:  Ourselves (and the response from those assembled is “as no one else is likely to care”)
  • Thursday:  A bloody war and a sickly season (this is to reduce the ranks of the enemy)
  • Friday:  A willing foe and sea room (because the feeling is one has a good chance of winning after the enemy ranks have been reduced by the effects of Thursday’s toast!)
  • Saturday:  Wives and sweethearts (and the response from those assembled is always:  “may they never meet”).

13 thoughts on “Tradition and a Sickly Season

  1. BammBamm says:

    I actually managed to sneak in the Saturday toast at my own wedding. A friend of mine, who was a former Lt(N) gave the appropriate response right on cue.

  2. Mark E says:

    I thought Thursday’s toast “a bloody war or a sickly season” referred to the desire and likelihood of being promoted when many people die: during war or sickness.

  3. Annie says:

    We had the “ick” over Christmas as well. Those toasts are very cool! I didn’t know that something like that existed.

  4. Warm brandy with honey would be my choice. Although chicken soup is a given for the yuckies. And keep dredging from that locker. Interesting stuff!

  5. Julie puts a drop of oregano in a teaspoon of honey. Hot, hot, hot! but it works great. Also, strange as it sounds, oregano oil on the feet stops a cough.

  6. df says:

    I enjoyed this post so much! We like to add a bit of fresh ginger to our honey and lemon for the ‘boost’ it gives. Hoping your captain is back on his feet soon, though I know who’s really running the ship!

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