STEP INTO MY SHOES
Mark quizzes Laurie on a favorite topic of his. Today it is nautical terms from the Aubrey/Maturin series of books by Patrick O’Brian. Mark’s words are in bold and mine are in regular text. The dialogue goes something like this:
Can you name any nautical terms from the Aubrey/Maturin books?
(smiling) Anything else?
Okay… anything else?
(almost laughing now) Anything else?
What phrase did they use when they spotted an enemy ship?
I don’t know.
(he stares at me for a few seconds…) Aww, come on.
I don’t remember.
"Beat to quarters."
What is the name of the sails at the top of the ship?
No! They are called topgallants.
What did they call it when two ships were fighting and one of them had the wind behind them?
(laughing pretty hard) No! It’s called having the weather gauge.
What did they do to indicate that they were surrendering?
They said, “We give up.”
No! They struck the colors. (i.e. they took down their flags)
After this little exchange he proceeded to recount an example for me from Robert Louis Stevenson's essay, "The English Admirals," in his collection Virginibus Puerisque. Here is the exact quote, "In the same spirit, Nelson went into Aboukir with six colours flying; so that even if five were shot away, it should not be imagined he had struck." Next, he hurried over to the uppermost shelves of our living room bookcase and pointed out to me the titles of the Horatio Hornblower books (probably best known today for the A&E mini series), one of which was Beat to Quarters. (As I was writing this Mark said I should mention that that book is part of a three volume clothbound set that came in a very nice slipcase. He also said that I could be the Boswell to his Dr. Johnson and write down everything he says – hmm, not very likely considering the volume of words that would include.)
THE SAGA CONTINUES
He disappears into his office and emerges a few minutes later to tell me “check your e-mail.” Our little discussion has reminded him of American naval hero John Paul Jones’ famous line, “I have not yet begun to fight!” So he sent me an e-mail titled “Read it, learn it, love it!!!!”. Here is the link for you to follow too.
Postscript: In case you were wondering… yes, this is something that happens quite often in our household. I have my own personal live-in tutor, lecturer, history enthusiast, pop quiz-giving husband. And yes, I do enjoy it!
We're not done yet folks... he keeps calling me into his office so he can read outloud to me from the Stevenson essay. Oh what have we started!