systems of US Navy ships was that fast American music called Jazz.
But on HMS Activity it was an entirely different kettle of fish.
The Captain of said ship, one E.R.North, was besotted with the music
of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado and required tunes from this operetta
to be played whenever he wished.
I myself quite liked all the numbers from the Mikado but there were many
among the crew who found the ‘wondering minstrel’ should have
wondered off after his umpteenth performance.
But E.R.North wasn’t a Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty type, he was actually
a Merchant Navy man who had been drafted into the Royal Navy just for the
period of the war. Those in this category were classed as H.O.s hostilities only.
So in most respects he was easy going, apart from his insistence on the
playing of the Mikado.
Now you wouldn’t think all this would arouse any mutinous
feelings among the crew, well it didn’t go that far but it came to the point
where a meeting was deemed necessary to resolve this point of contention.
And surprisingly it did, in a very simple way. A particularly ugly unlikable
member of the lower deck who was known as Zombie, all of a sudden
shouted out ‘why can’t we switch to HMS Pinafore for the music’
Everyone stared in amazement at this stroke of genius. Of course, this
other G and S favourite could satisfy all concerned including Captain
North, and it did.
And so everyone for the rest of that long voyage was very happy and you
know the Mikado was never ever played again.
Well… hardly ever.