You can go months – years – in the Navy without knowing someone’s real name. You can be best buddies, run ashore “oppos” and messmates and still be ignorant of your chums real identity. You might know his family; be godfather to his children – or even get as far as marrying him (if you’re a girl that is!) and not have heard his proper name. So many people in the Navy have nicknames. Someone with the surname ‘Brown’ for example is invariably known as “Buster;” a Smith is always called “Smudge;” there are ‘Nobby’ Halls, “Bungy” Williams, “Dusty” Millers; if your name is Green your likely to be called Teresa (i.e. trees are!); then there’s “Shady” Lane, “Chalky” White and if you are unlucky enough to be called Haggo you might well end up being called “Haggis.” Then there are those who get named after celebrities with the same surname – “Roy” Rogers for example or “Cilla” Black,” and I’ve met a couple of Mary Whitehouses as well as Deborah Kerrs and Ruby Murrays. The extraordinary thing is that rough tough Navy blokes who, through the chance of their surname get called by a girls’ name are often called their nickname by their wives, mothers and sweethearts as well as by their pals. It’s a long and amusing – if often somewhat confusing tradition – not used quite so extensively I think in the army or those other people…err…you know…. the RFC…no…wrong the RAF!

Nicknames are fun and often very personal and nearly always used with affection and intimacy. This is never more true when outside Service Life, when lovers and families indulge in using nicknames. We have friends in Cornwall whose children couldn’t say “grandma” when first learning to speak and so their grand dame became known by the sound the children uttered – “Muzzy.” My own daughter Peta for some reason decided at a very young age to call Fiona, “Moomin,” and many families have pet names for each other – in fact wasn’t the Duchess of York known as “Squidgy?” Well, God bless her, perhaps less said the better!

Grandson No.1 who will be three in April is called, Gethin William Albert. But I choose to call him “Bertie” and today Grandson No2 arrived – Felix Edward Donald (9lb 4oz) but he shall be known as Teddy from henceforth. Well done to Peta and Cole on the birth of a fabulous new baby boy and welcome to my world Teddy! (See pics for Teddy’s first photo call)

Tomorrow (Tuesday) there will hopefully be a “Case Conference” on me held in Bristol when I’m hoping decisions will be taken about the next stage of my treatment which should be surgery for the removal of the remainder of my thyroid gland. There’s been a failure of communication between the ENT and the Oncology departments which tomorrow’s conversations should sort out. So, in hospital soon for the operation I hope, and then on to the radioiodine therapy, which cannot happen, whilst I still have a functioning thyroid. It’s time to crack on, and I will be asking some questions if I haven’t heard by Wednesday what’s to happen next. The hold-up in my treatment has been caused not by clinical reasons but simply because there’s been a cross-discipline failure to talk – and that is unacceptable because whilst I’m waiting for a programme, my life is on hold. Damn frustrating! Mind you, I can think of some nicknames for those responsible!

Comments on this entry:

  1. I’ve read the one following this as well as this. Do you remember my name from Manadon boys? “The Scottish Dragon”!! The 4th March is a good date from David’s point of view it will be 12 months to the date from his quadruple heart by-pass and he is in good fettle so God willing all will be well with you. I spent part of last month at home meeting up with a Wren friend from G’gow that I was B/maid to in 66 – we were both at DOLPHIN and she married an Aussie. We haven’t met since ’67 and nicknames were bandied too and fro between her and I during a non-stop talking session – can you believe that! Congrats to Peta and of course Granny & Grandad Elmore on Teddy’s arrival. We’ll be thiking about you next week. Love & prayers. Nancy & David

    — Nancy Hill · Friday 27 February, 2009 · #

  2. As a Bungy, can I ask if anyone know the origin of this name? Rick Jolly’s Jackspeak mentions it but there is no clue as to its origin.

    — Richard Williams · Saturday 28 February, 2009 · #

  3. Hello there…are you the same Graeme Elmore who served in the Royal Navy on the HMS Ambuscade in 1988 perchance? I am looking for a couple of friends of mine and thought you might remember them..
    Philip “pip” Preece and Mark “tinks” Tinker.
    Please do email me back if you know how I can reach either of them. Hope you are well. Cheers!

    — Kathleen MinerBray · Wednesday 24 March, 2010 · #