A life on the Ocean

The good ship HMS Ocean is in the Thames – after a near-miss with the Thames Barrier – to defend London in a vague and unspecified way during the Olympics, perhaps by pursuing waterborne terrorists at high speed.

Anyway, the tub was open to the public for one day only, so I went to Greenwich to join the enormous queue, which was being entertained by a couple of Royal Marines teaching us civilians how to avoid common pitfalls when flambéeing meatballs in rum (!), followed by a promotional video beginning, “Why do we need a Royal Navy?” Well, they may regret asking that question when the next round of defence cuts are announced.

Thank goodness we scrapped Army units to pay for this.

I eventually got to the front, was searched by a petty officer (a rank, not a description) and put on a small boat to carry  me to the, erm, bigger boat. Once aboard, I was let loose in the huge helicopter hangar in the bowels of HMS Ocean, where the Weapons Department exhibited an officer who’d been doing anti-piracy ops off Somalia, and the Logistics department showed off a bloke whose job it was to pay sailors’ salaries in the local currency. Bit of a let-down, that one, actually.

Once I’d seen everything, I hopped on a boat back to shore and the captain informed us passengers, “We hope you enjoyed your trip. Our next port of call is the Falklands because there’s a little spot of trouble down there.” How witty.

Sorry, this is actually a photo of my front door, don’t know how it ended up in the Royal Navy album…

My full conurbation of photos from the ship can be seen by clicking here.

This here’s my deputy, pardner!

Bitterly disappointed as I am that I’m not the Sheriff sort of ‘Deputy’, I am another sort, as a new member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish community’s House of Commons with elected Deputies from synagogues, charities and – in my case – the Union of Jewish Students.

I attended my first meeting on Sunday, in which the Treasurer presented the accounts and stated, “When I took up this job three years ago, I inherited a massive deficit.” Someone’s been watching too much Prime Minister’s Question Time…

As part of an initiative to lower the average age of 63 and get some young people onboard (haha), I also stood for sub-election to the International affairs committee, one of 31 candidates for the 12 places.

Rather to my surprise, I scraped together enough votes. All in all, young people won 20% of seats across the board (haha) so now we might actually be able to present a real, progressive challenge to the louder and older Deputies who make entertaining yet ludicrous remarks such as, “I’m very disturbed that the Board is cosying up to Oxfam,” and, “On the whole, the Jewish people don’t do much wrong, and the same goes for Israel and the Israeli government. But the Arab states do a hell of a lot wrong.”

Those Board of Deputies terms in full:

  • Full board – meeting of Deputies where everybody is provided dinner
  • Board game – making paper aeroplanes during a meeting
  • Starboard – Deputies on the far right
  • Boarding school – training workshop for new Deputies
  • Surfboard – to watch a meeting of Deputies via the Internet
  • Snowboard – a day without a meeting of Deputies
  • Boardwalk – wandering into a meeting late
  • Circuit board – moving in Jewish circles
  • Chopping board – removing a meeting of Deputies from your diary
  • Boredom – utter exhaustion with Jewish communal affairs

This was put through my letterbox on Wednesday:

And guess what was on the back of it… (click to enlarge – well worth it!)

Note that these so-called ‘Grosvenor Billinghurst’ people had the chutzpah to try and procure themselves free advertising: “Show your support for our Olympic Athletes by displaying this card in your window!” It’s so cringeworthy it kind of makes me warm to the Olympic thought police who are cracking down on this sort of thing…

Some company spirit

My parents always taught me that if you’re in a hole and massively shortstaffed, that might be a good point at which to stop digging. But apparently G4S doesn’t buy into this wisdom. It’s emerged that they have an official Company Song, G4S: Securing Your World, and as if that weren’t enough, it’s still available (as I write this on Tuesday evening) for download on Amazon – the best 85p I’ve spent in a long time! In particular, they are almost certainly going to regeret including the lyrics:

Our mission is to maintain the peace,
But make no mistake, we’ll face the beast.
We’ll back him down, make him run:
We’ll never leave our post ’til the job is done.

There could be certain problems with the Trade Descriptions Act there, especially with the last line!

Quis employs ipsos custodes?

G4S have made the question of ‘who guards the guards’ a bit redundant, but I anyway have it on good authority that asking the military to fulfil the role of security officers is not a good plan. And from what gooder authority could I take this advice than Sir George Campbell MP, strategist, liberal, innovator and all-round good modern fellow?

And finally…

And finally… (part 2)
In tonight’s episode, London’s canal network was kept safe from terrorists by the Royal Navy. Team GB was impersonated by Grosvenor Billinghurst Ltd. Sadly, G4S couldn’t be with us so the Army played their part as an understudy. Sir George Campbell was voiced by an actor. The Dependent is an entirely fictitious publication and any similarity to a real publication, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This was an Gabrielquotes production.

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