11 January 2009

Let the Sweat Run


On this day, a Sunday in 1943, enduring Africa-hot temperatures as the Queen Mary races toward the Equator, avoiding German u-boats and surface raiders, RAF Sergeant Hansonrecords in his clandestine journal:

Very little sleep between Midt & 3.30am when I get up again for duty, its far too hot. It seems to me that to endure the heat of the tropics one must be able to relax completely & I'm beginning to acquire the art, you just let the sweat run & on no account worry about it. 4.0am--6.0am duty, read a good part of Kippo. 6.0am shave, have an early breakfast & go up on boat deck where at 6.30am I find it warm wearing only shorts, just getting comfortable when they start swabbing down the decks so there is no alternative but to go down below. At 6.0am we passed within sight of Mauritius, so we're yet about 20 degrees S. of the equator still about 2000 miles before we get to Aden & about 3000 miles more to what I think our destination. Only about another week & with luck we'll be putting our feet on dry land again. We all seem to think we're going to Cairo & that when we get there we'll be given 7 days leave. Out of bed 9.15am into bath, then duty. Stew for dinner, & rice. Then up to prom deck forward to finish "Kippo", afterwards another rest in bunk before duty 3.45pm. Tea at 6.0pm then I heard that Peter Flux had been looking for me & that morse practice was going on on Prom Deck aft so I dashed up there & found three oscillators in use. I managed to get a turn & was complimented by the officer i/c for some good sending. There is another class on Wed, I must go along. A walk on the deck with Lionel & Cryil & then below to get this story of my adventures up-to-date. Its terribly hot below & half the chaps in the cabins are preparing to sleep on the open boat deck. I decide that I will sleep below as usual, the air should be fresher with half the chaps away. I cannot settle to anything this evening its so hot. I think probably we have caught up with the sun again & we won't get it much hotter than this although of course the advantage at the moment is that we are on a ship at sea and therefore there is a continual circulation of air. What it must be like on land say in Madagascar at the moment I cannot conceive. I decide to have another bath and then got to bed. I'm jumpy tonight & sleep is not easy.

I'd really like to read this "Kippo" the sergeant keeps mentioning, but can't find it anywhere. I did however find the word in an online dictionary--apparently it refers to a "wiggo with a speech impediment." As for wiggo, I can find no satisfactory explanation, only that it refers to one who has sexual relations with zombies. No wonder Sergeant Hanson was so keen to read it. 

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