(First published in the January 1998 (No 70) issue of Ton Talk, the magazine of the Ton Class Association)
People often have to go one better when you tell them a dit. Some brag about how long they've been in the Navy by dropping names ("Bloody good run ashore oppo, my mate Mountbatten.") or by mentioning events, customs or traditions long since disappeared. This is often done in a spirit of competition, rum maybe. For example, "Of course, you wouldn't have been around when they abolished the tot... saddest day of my life." Or, "Yes, I used to visit that pub back in the days of black hats. It's a theme restaurant now."
Add up your marks at the end of this quiz to see where you stand as a Ton Class Black Cat artist.
1. "Some people don't know when they're well off. I was in Tons when they had open bridges, not these new-fangled namby-pamby air-conditioned enclosed affairs!" Score 1 point for each open-bridged ship you served in.
2. "Yes, I've been immune to sunburn ever since I got my Gulf tan serving in the 9th Minesweeping Squadron. The temperature never dropped below a hundred except at night when it was brass monkeys." Score 2 points if you qualify.
3. "I don't know what all the fuss is about over fires at sea. In my day, we had a funnel fire at least once a watch (3 points), once a day (2 points), once a week (1 point)." P.S. Do your friends call you Jonah by chance?
4. "Of course, we had proper Mirrlees engines in my ship, not those dinky little Deltics." Score 1 point for each Mirrlees ship in which you served.
5. "Don't tell me about VERMEX. I was the one who drank Kilmorey out of Guinness in Vernon Creek." Score 1 point for every VERMEX in which you participated.
6. "You MSF/Hunt lot call that minesweeping? During VERMEX, we once had (score 1 point for every number above two) ships buttoned together... and we did standard lap turns right round the Isle of Wight."
7. "Talk about roughers. We were halfway across the Bay of Biscay and the on-watch POME and his stoker were stuck in the MCR without relief for three days because the upper scupper was out of bounds." Score 1 point. Add an extra bonus point if you were a POME yourself.
8. "Buy me another wet and I'll tell you about the night we were stuck in the Channel in a Force 10 with no main engines, Decca on the blink, a toppled gyro and a steering gear breakdown." Score 1 point with a bonus point for the correct use of hand movements to demonstrate steering from aft.
9. "Mind you, the Gut/Bugis Street/Union Street/Commercial Road/Princes Street (Score 1 point for each) were different then. You could have a run ashore, go to the flicks, drink ten pints, shake a wicked welly, pick up fish and chips, get a fast black back to the ship and still have change out of a fiver (1 point), a quid (2 points), ten bob (3 points), half a crown." (You must be joking or you've got the shortest arms and longest pockets in history!).
10. "Yes, I was first commission in Coniston when Pontius was a pilot. Did I tell you she was the first Ton?" Score 5 points for pure brass neck and put on your green coat.
0-5 points - You have only been in for a dogwatch or are too honest for your own good.
5-10 points - Better, but don't start playing poker yet!
11-20 points - Lamp Swinger First Class.
Over 20 points - Definite Black Cat artist but you must be pretty boring at parties.
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