BRNC LINGO FOR DUMMIES: a retrospective guide to the words, phrases and sayings bandied about liberally during Term One.
This guide has been kindly drawn up by Midshipman Carruthers to assist those of us who may now only have vague (if somewhat painful) memories of their time at BRNC. It has been illustrated using a fictional Midshipman, let’s call him Mr Grise, and pretend he was a young, innocent and trusting chap with a heart of gold and a slight West Midlands accent.
“Adrift” – Being late for anything in the Andrew. During Weeks 1 - 4 this word, previously used only to describe Robinson Crusoe’s situation, was well known to every new entrant. E.g. “Mr Grise was adrift for Divisions Chief, as he had one too many in Floaters and ended up back at Eva’s.”
“Andrew (The)” – An Informal name given to the Royal Navy. Used extensively by seniors during early days at BRNC to impress the new entrant with their command of naval slang and terminology.
“Bulling” – A ritualistic and mysterious method of polishing boots and shoes which was passed on to Midshipmen by their Upper Yardiecolleagues. Bulling involves the application of spit, Kiwi polish, a very black finger and weeks of practice. After bulling one’s shoes to the perfect shine, they would normally be trodden on by a colleague within seconds of Divisions. See Hands to Punching Stations.
“BZ” – Pronounced “Bee Zed”, this is naval terminology for a job well done. Rarely, if ever, heard mentioned during any activity involving Midshipman Grise. See Fenders!
“Charlies” A punishment routine involving early morning activities, late nights, bizarre uniform attire, (see White Webbing) and lots of doubling around the college. A badge of honour amongst Midshipmen - no self respecting first termer would be spiritually complete without Charlies.
“CJH” – Similar to other degenerative brain diseases such as CJD, CJH was a state of comatose inactivity during which the brain shut down and incontrollable snoring and drooling resulted. CJH usually only afflicts midshipmen for periods of around 1 hour although it has been known for some to spend most of a day in this condition. Usually this was cured by a good dose of Charlies.
“Dhobey” – A term used for washing oneself or one’s clothing. Used extensively while at BRNC as just about everything in the college was subjected to a degree of dhobeying throughout the term. Midshipmen could buy magical Dhobey Dust from the NAAFI with which to ensure their battledress uniform maintained its crisp polyester sheen.
“Divisions” – A painful and confusing routine of marching and shouting, occasionally carried out with weapons of mass dysfunction, the SLR (Shoulder Lacerating Rifle) or more worryingly a shiny blunt sword.
“Doubling” - Marching at speed, often with a SLR held over one’s head or when engaged in Charlies. Made more difficult by the wearing of parade boots designed and hand crafted using wood and leather in Victorian times. Note: Nike does not currently show them listed their 2010 range of athletic footwear.
“Eva” – A work-a-day local lass known to many in the college as a friendly and sympathetic means of stress relief after a busy day and several ales down at Floaters. E.g. (To be stated in a defensive tone by Midshipman Grise) “She was a nice girl and I liked her a lot”.
“Fenders!” – Advice screamed to the aspiring naval officer on the positioning of impact absorbing rubber cushions usually given forlornly about 10 seconds after colliding with a jetty or whaler.
“Five minute rule” – A legend in time keeping paradox. Broken only by fools, this is being where you should be exactly on time when in fact you are adrift as in reality you should have been here five minutes ago. Arguing that you were on time and able to start the lecture/drill along with your classmates would lead only to Charlies.
“Floaters” – The nickname for the public house found at the Upper Chain Ferry between Dartmouth and Kingswear, “The Floating Bridge.” It was the usual meeting place for Midshipmen looking to escape from Life in a Blue Suit.
“Hands to Punching Stations” – The settling of an argument or debate using physical violence. See Life in a Blue Suit, Bulling,etc. E.g. “If Grisey puts the butt of his SLR down on my parade boot one more time, it’s hands to punching stations…”
“If you can’t take a joke you shouldn't have joined” – Cheerful advice given by your peers to those of us who received two days Charlies for being exactly on time for a lecture or activity and then realising all too late that one is adrift. See Five Minute Rule.
“Life in a Blue Suit” – Annoying retort by anyone from a senior term, or from those in your peer group, when Midshipmen were complaining about anything from the price of Websters Bitter to 21 days Charlies. If said by any individual more than once in any one hour, could often lead to Hands to Punching Stations.
“Scranbag” – A dishevelled heap of soiled or crumpled clothing, a mess. E.g. “Mr Grise, your battledress looks like it has been used to dhobey out the beagles’ kennels, you are in short a complete scranbag!”
“Stand fast” – Instructions given to the majority but excluding a minority, the exact context of which can only be guessed at by a privileged few in any one manoeuvre or order. E.g. – “Class dismissed, stand fast Mr Grise who will double around the ramps until hearing the command: halt!”
“Up Channel Night” – A traditional home coming celebration undertaken at the end of Dartmouth Training Squadron (DTS) sea time. Midshipmen may have also used the term spuriously for celebrations when taking college yachts to exotic locations, such as Torquay.
“Upper Yardie” – Not to be confused with Jamaican Gangs, Upper Yardies were sailors who had been selected for officer training and new everything there was to know about The Andrew. Achieved God like status with their knowledge of bulling and divisions.
“Whaler” - A crude sixteenth century long boat propelled either by 8 midshipmen or a 2 horsepower lawn mower engine. No steering to speak of. Can cause confusion in new entrants by having no “blunt” end and two “pointy” ends which could make judging the direction of travel difficult, leading to cries of “out fenders”every 60 seconds or so during weeks 1-4 of river activities.
“White Webbing” – This formal regalia is worn by those undertaking Charlies. Consists of belts and gaiters which had to be kept in pristine order of whiteness to pass inspection many times daily. This could only be achieved using “Blanco”, a bizarre form of fabric tippex sold only at the BRNC NAAFI and no where else in the UK. Wearing of which often led to taunts cheerfully sung along to the tune of the Billy Idol hit popular around this time: “It’s a nice day for some White Webbing”. See (again) Hands to punching stations.
Editor’s Note: The text above is a work of fiction, any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely intentional.