Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just call me a limey

A Claim to Fame

In Iraq, some time around 1950, finding that most of my teeth had mysteriously become loose, I left my hydrographic survey vessel El Ghar tied up alongside the mooring barges in Fao and hied up the nearly hundred miles to Basra to see a local Iraqi dentist. He looked at my teeth and said everything looked all right. They were just very loose.

So I went off to see my friend Doctor RD Maclean, an ex-wartime Royal Navy seagoing sawbones, who was now the Port of Basra’s Chief Medical Officer. He examined me, puzzled around a bit with his books, then slapped his hands in glee. Delightedly he reckoned I had the beginnings of scurvy, something he had never seen before. He told me I obviously had been ignoring vegetables in my diet and what I needed was a large dose of vitamin C.

But, incredibly, there was none available right then.

So I went back across the desert, south to Fao, went aboard my survey vessel,

El Ghar, and sailed off into the blue and there met one of Her Majesty’s sloops, either the Wren or the Wild Goose, and they gave me a a couple of tins of lime or lemonade powder. After drinking that for a couple of days all my teeth sprang back rigidly to attention as if they were expecting to be inspected by Chief Petty Officer Wilmot, the fearsome senior disciplinarian during my initial days as a cadet at HMS St. Vincent, in 1943.

So ever after that when anyone called me a ‘Limey’ I could state that, yes, that’s what I was, and probably the only living, classically-true, English-Canadian limey they would ever meet.

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