Monday, December 13, 2010

"What, what, Arnott, what's that you're saying?"

Many people have interests that are wholly unrelated to their occupations, and sea captains are no exception. Commodore Sir C. Ivan Thompson, for example, was particularly fanatical (or devoted - it depends on how you view it) fan of the Liverpool Football Club. Bob Arnott, who later captained the Queen Elizabeth 2, joined the Queen Mary in 1952 as Third Officer. Of Commodore Thompson's obsession, he wrote:

Six days a week, Captain Thompson appeared an easy-going sort of fellow who loved a pint and a joke as much as any of his crew, but Saturdays it was different. Then, the Captain's mood depended
essentially on the success or failure of the Liverpool football club. He must have been one of their longest-standing members, and was certainly one of their most avid supporters. Towards tea-time on a Saturday, when the famous Merseyside club had no doubt just walked off the field after the final whistle, Captain Thompson invariably ordered: 'Go and find out how they've gone on.' Off I would troop to the radio room and wait until the British football results came over the air; the Master, meanwhile, paced the bridge in dire suspense. If the radio message was that Liverpool had won, I would hurry back at once to tell him the good news; if they had lost, I couldn't help but dawdle back to the bridge, for I knew that the normally genial face would turn a rich shade of purple at the sad tidings. 'What, what, Arnott, what's that you're saying?' was his immediate irascible reaction. And if the radio reported that the Captain's club had been really well beaten, it was a wise and immediate strategy to keep out of his way for a few hours, for by the next day, the thrill of anticipation over Liverpool's next game would have taken over, and our much-respected Commodore would again become an approachable human being.

It should be mentioned that Commodore Thompson was a Liverpudlian, which may help explain his devotion to that particular football club.

References: Captain Robert Harry Arnott, Captain of the Queen: The autobiography of the most famous sea captain of them all. (London: Quadrant Books, 1982), 95-96.

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