Journal of the australian naval


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By Geoff Cutts BA PGCE Grad Dip Lib

When I joined the Royal Navy, pari of my initial training included a stint in HMS Hermes as a Second Officer of the Watch. It was a magical experience for a 22 year old fresh from the hallowed climes of Leeds and London Universities, and one for which I will always be grateful. One of the lasting memories, among many, is of middle and morning watches under and SD TAS OOW — who used to while away the hours by reciting, with feeling, the poems of Rupert Brooke. Although I had majored in English Literature. I had no memory for quotations or lines of poetry, and I admired the ease and skill with which he entertained us all on the bridge:

And after, ere the night is bom. Do hares come out about the corn? Oh, is the water sweet and cool. Gentle and brown, above the pool? And laughs the immortal river still Under the mill, under the mill? Say, is there Beauty yet to find? And Certainty? and Quiet kind? Deep meadows yet, for to forget The lies, and truths, and pain? ...Oh! yet Stands the church clock still at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?'

In reminiscence, the church clock always stands at ten to three and there is always honey for tea; but in reality, people you met years ago. perhaps when you and they were single and possibly irresponsible, are no longer as you first met them and probably still remember them. Even roads that appeared to be steep and wide when you were a small child, turn out to be narrow and relatively flat when you subsequently return to your home town; the quarterdeck at the Naval College is not as vast and inspiring as it was when you first arrived; the buildings where you spent your formative years seem to lose some of their romantic memories when you revisit them. The juvenile image you used to have of ships' captains, or whatever your equivalent may be. is somewhat dented by the time you become one, as you appreciate the responsibilities that go with that image.

The moral of this is that we often have to echo

the sentiments of the Earl of Salisbury to Richard II:

One day too late. I fear, my noble lord,
Hath clouded all thy happy days on earth:
O! call back yesterday, bid time return.
And thou shalt have !

Too often do we regret the passing of time, and especially the passing of time which we could have used more constructively, to better purpose, than we did.

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