Hanky-panky in the hammock? We can only wonder what Nelson would make of these manoeuvres


Alf is very old-fashioned, when it comes to allowing the recruitment of females to the armed forces and to the promotion of these females too far up the command chain.

He has always held strongly to the view that this can only lead to hanky-panky of a sort best avoided, especially if this hanky-panky were to so preoccupy a couple that the enemy could sneak up on them and catch them with their pants down. This inevitably would put your comrades’ lives in danger.

For the same reason Alf has been disinclined to support the modern-day notions of equality that allow known homosexuals to join the armed forces. It means we are putting the defence of the realm in the hands of blokes and sheilas who may be overcome by their rampant hormones at a tactically vital moment to put a bit of coupling ahead of their military priorities.

Sadly, our authorities have preferred not to listen to Alf on these matters.

The result can be seen in a report today from the United Kingdom. We learn that a certain female navy commander has been seized (allegedly, let us emphasise) by an urge to share a hammock with – ahem – someone of lower rank.

But not so low as to necessarily imply a taste for a bit of rough.

The first female commander of a Royal Navy warship has been sent home after allegedly having an affair with another officer.

Commander Sarah West, 42, took charge of the frigate HMS Portland in May 2012, but has been sent home from duty after claims she was having a relationship with a male officer on the same ship.

This would breach the Armed Forces’ Code of Social Conduct, which prohibits personnel from having relationships with subordinates if they compromise ‘operational effectiveness’.

Alf observes that Cdr West comes from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, which happens to have been the political stamping ground of Austin Mitchell – remember him? He was the MP for Grimsby for almost as long as Alf has been the member for Eketahuna North. The difference is that he is a Labour MP. , and this suggests Grimsby is a Labour-leaning town, which doubtless explains why it might have produced a wayward female sailor.

Mrs Grumble suggested the male officer involved in this tale of nautical naughtiness probably was the first mate. Alf has quietly pointed out that this might be so if we were talking about the merchant navy. In the Royal Navy, of course, he (or she) would be the first officer.

It remains for the Navy to come up with something that reduces the incidence of ship mates getting too close. Vitamin C in the diet did the trick for dealing with scurvy, a scourge in the sailing business once upon a time.

Now we have to come up with something to suppress a crew’s sexual drive or – how about this? – tamper with a woman sailor’s hormones so she grows a beard and goes bald on top. Mind you, Alf knows some blokes who would not be too greatly deterred by the idea of having it away with someone with a beard.

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