May 20, 2010

When oars became bridesmaids

OLD WOTSISNAME with the concrete boat had a question for me the other day.

“I notice you always refer to your dinghy oars as bridesmaids,” he said.

I had to plead guilty. “It’s just habit,” I said. “Don’t even know I’m doing it.”

“But why bridesmaids?” he insisted.

So I had to tell him the rather silly reason. When I was 14 I was the cabin boy aboard the Makoti, a twin-screw sportfisher that was based in Simonstown, south of Cape Town, for the summer.

Makoti’s dinghy was pulled up on the beach just in front of where I lived, and I used to row Makoti’s owner and guests out to the boat moored in the bay. The owner was Harry Pegram, a wine farmer from Constantia, and the very first time I mentioned oars he said, “No, no, not oars — bridesmaids.” And he roared with laughter.

Then he told the story of the Cockney mother and her little daughter who were out walking in London when they came across a wedding. The bridegroom was secretary of a posh Thames rowing club, and the members had formed with their oars a long ceremonial arch, through which the bride and her retinue of attendants were walking.

The excited little girl said to her mother: “Cor, Mum, look at all them oars.”

“Hush, luvvy,” said her mother quickly, “them’s not ’ores, them’s bridesmaids.”

That’s why my oars have been bridesmaids ever since.

Today’s Thought
You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country.
— Robert Frost

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #54
Size of dinghy. The rule for hard dinghies is that 7 feet overall is generally reckoned to be the smallest-sized hard dinghy that can be used as a yacht’s tender for two people.

“Dad, I need a car.”
“What? You think cars grow on trees?”
“No, no, Dad. Everyone knows they come from automobile plants.”


oztayls said...

Henceforth, my common oars will be bridesmaids :)

andre said...

Wonderful tale -absolute vintage Idler-which I shall recount at every opportunity.When can we expect a ''Christmas Book''- the Best of Vigor -
From Estuary English to the Estuary itself-yesterday was cloudless , hot(25 celcius) , the sea a brilliant blue the air so clear that one could pick out the detail on Sheppey from Hampton slopes.
With a glassy sea and a F zero wind I rowed the de rigged mirror from Hampton Pier to Herne Bay harbour and then back against the tide.Those oars were NOT bridesmaids. RGDS Andre

Bob K7ZB said...

John, I am out here in Seattle on business and just came across this link on North 48's website...
Sabre 28
Lake Michigan

John Vigor said...

Hi Andre,
I know more or less where you rowed your Mirror. I lived in Maidstone, Kent, for four years and bought a 17-foot centerboarder in Hollow Shore near Faversham, which a friend and I sailed across the Channel en route to the blondes of Scandiwegia.

Hi Bob, interesting site but I'm naturally a little wary of people who spell portholes as "portals," being such an expirt speller miself.


John V.