Vinegar valentines: the sailor

Vinegar Valentine sailor


Published by A. PARK, 47 Leonard Street, London

Avast My lad – You’re taken all aback,
You swagger as if Groggy, Master Jack,
Like the colossus which at Rhodes is seen,
Your legs a ship of war, might sail between;
Steady old Tar – don’t book me in your log,
You sprice the Main Brace – twig your bowl of Grog,
Mind at the Navy, I am not a railer,
For dearly do I love a British Sailor;
But wed with one, I even will refuse,
Who his own Pigtail for Amusement Chews.

Don’t go chewing your pigtail boys, or the girls won’t have you!

I particularly like the detail of the drawing – note the sailing vessel picked out in a bare few lines but somehow very alive between the sailor’s knees, the starfish and the boat drawn up on the beach…

This comes from a fine set of Victorian-era ‘Vinegar Valentines’ complaining about the characteristics and shortcomings of various categories of (generally bibulous) men. See the rest about cobblers, carpenters tailors, snuff-taking women, two-faced individuals and a host of others at the wonderful Spitalfields Life website here and here.

My thanks to Malcolm Woods for spotting this one.

The Green Bed

A fabulous old song learned from the singing of Harry Cox in which a young sailor comes home from sea – and learns the hard way that he’s only wanted for his money.

It’s a bitter lesson, but a common one and very necessary for a young inexperienced man with gold in his pockets.

A Southwold memorial explained

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UK Home Built Boat Rally member John Lockwood has been in touch with a photo of the ship commanded by brave Captain David W Simpson MBE when he met his death.

Captain Simpson is today remembered by a memorial plaque outside Southwold’s Sailor’s Reading Room.

John writes:

‘I know you like following interesting threads. In connection with the memorial plaque included in yesterday’s post, I have attached a picture of the West Isleta, later the Empire Merlin, built in 1919 in Seattle, managed by Ropners Shipping, and torpedoed by U-boat U48 about 190 miles west of Cape Wrath.

‘The thought of a 70 year old captain working on that open bridge in the North Atlantic in winter makes me appreciate what a tough lot merchant navy sailors were in those days.  Incidentally Captain Simpson was previously Master of the SS Wandy, which attacked and sank a German U-boat in WWI.

‘Regards,  John’

I certainly do like a good story! Many thanks for the old photo and information John.