Monday, May 21, 2007

"Weel done, Cutty Sark!"

I had planned on opening this post with the poem "Tam O'Shanter" by Robert Burns.

I have been gently reminded that verse in the Scots dialect is much like music on the bagpipes -- beautiful to those who love it, and incomprehensible to those who don't.

*sigh*

Last night, one of the most beautiful sailing vessels ever to grace the seven seas -- the
Cutty Sark-- caught fire. 140 years of "
peerless and irreplaceable maritime craftsmanship", to quote Jim Gilchrist of The Scotsman, lost.

In the poem the protagonist, an intoxicated gentleman by the name of Tam O'Shanter, is riding home from the pub when he happens across a coven of witches exuberantly dancing in the moonlight.

One particularly beautiful young witch is wearing only a way-too-short chemise, and during a high point in her dance, our hero forgets himself and belts out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!" (cutty = short, sark = chemise, or nightshirt).

Tam O'Shanter, being mounted on his famous racing mare, takes off like striped-butted ape as the witches give chase.

His faith in his mare is justified as she gets him to safety across running water, but not before Cutty-sark -- leading the chase -- yanks the horse's tail off.

Well named, the clipper
Cutty Sark was the greyhound of the sailing ships. At 280 feet long, and a beam of 35 feet, she weighed 963 tons, but carried 32,000 square feet of sail.

She regularly posted incredible times, first in the Shanghai-to-England tea run, and later in the Australia-England wool trade. She made the Australia-to-England run in 67 days, and her best time ever -- 360 nautical miles in 24 hours -- was never matched by any other ship of her size.

I visited the
Cutty Sark during one of our layovers in England, and spent half-a-day on her. Absolutely gorgeous little ship, I don't know of anyone who couldn't recognize the speed and grace in her -- even tied up at dock.

There are indications that the fire that ravaged the
Cutty Sark may have been deliberately set.

I'm here to tell you, anybody who'd set fire to something that pretty ought to be taken out and shot like a rabid dog.

And hopefully her namesake is waiting to chase that critter around hell.

LawDog

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

To quote Katherine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story," "My she was yar." Damn shame.
Sarah

pax said...

Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen'd, sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!


Somehow, that sounds a wee bit like sarcasm to my ear.

Anonymous said...

"I'm here to tell you, anybody who'd set fire to something that pretty ought to be taken out and shot like a rabid dog."

Agreed, but I think a keelhauling would be in order first.

Mel

Ambulance Driver said...

"Agreed, but I think a keelhauling would be in order first."

Aye.

Anonymous said...

She was the last of her kind and the only thing missing would have been to see her afloat again. England is infested with the kind of dole scum to whom this act is just a moment's amusement. I'd give 40 lashes not only to the perp, but the diseased womb it crawled from and anything else that shares its garbage genetic code.

SG said...

"Agreed, but I think a keelhauling would be in order first."

We seem to be running short on clippers, though; have to use an aircraft carrier as a substitute.

Anonymous said...

Tie the perpetrator to one of the charred spars after keelhauling and deliver lashes until he lapses into unconsciousness. When he does, allow physicians to revive him and then deliver another round. This whipping will continue until the perpetrator sings the entire score of HMS Pinafore.

The lashing will be suspended for 10 minutes between the first and second acts so observers can stretch their legs and obtain refreshments.

If perpetrator makes any mistakes he must start over.

Matt G said...

A fine post, this one.

Thanks, 'Dog.

Anonymous said...

"Agreed, but I think a keelhauling would be in order first.

We seem to be running short on clippers, though; have to use an aircraft carrier as a substitute."

No. Use a submarine.

Dregan said...

The Cutty Sary will rise again!

http://tinyurl.com/2enc78

Kristopher said...

Keelraking would be more in order.

Omnibus Driver said...

I read or heard that the Cutty Sark had been undergoing extensive renovations, and that much of the "above the water" parts of the ship had been removed to get at the below-the-waterline bits and were not present at time of the fire. I'm hearing there's a good chance they'll reconstruct.

Anonymous said...

Being the one who took LawDog and his brother to the 'Cutty Sark' many years ago, because I thought they ought to experience that superb thing of beauty and seamanship, I have to say that this is even worse than the pea-brained critter who doused the Treaty Oak in Austin with herbicide. Hang them both from the yardarm!
LawMom

Anonymous said...

Always preferred the very late model German "Flying P's" and french equivalents to the Clippers.

Less speed, but more cargo, and with steel masts and rigging so you can maintain serious sail in lousy weather and haul mass.

Glenn Bartley said...

Law Dog,

You said that very well indeed.

Glenn B

j said...

Omnibus driver above said what the local fishwrap said here today -- the CS was undergoing renovation, and all the masts and a lot of the original teak wood were safely stored.

Oldsmoblogger said...

Flogged round the fleet, keelhauled, and hanged at Execution Dock, corpse to be tarred and left for the sport of the crows.

Anonymous said...

you folk don't know doo- doo about revenge.
Just pull the damn dole checks from the whole area for a year and use the proceeds to build a new, SAILING replica.

Anonymous said...

If there's a good chance to reconstruct, they should go for it. As to who to hang from the yardarm, can we get a conviction against Sumdood?

mustanger98 on THR