Royal Navy

This is my mother wearing her father’s naval monkey jacket. “Why is it called a monkey jacket?” I ask. “Lord knows,” she replied. Every year as children she and her sister were photographed in the monkey jacket, it was a way to record how much they had grown. “Monkeys in a monkey jacket,” my grandfather would say.

I ask my mother for other stories that could be paired with my Royal Navy collection of bags. “Well,” she says, “there was the time Admiral Eriksen came to stay on his way to inspect the Swedish fleet.” My mother was apparently away, so the Admiral was given her bedroom, which she shared with her pet mongoose Neola.

My grandparents became concerned before dinner, during drinks, when Admiral Ericksen did not appear. My grandmother asked the steward if he had told the Admiral that dinner was about to be served. “Oh yes M’lady, the Admiral knows, but he’s still in the bath.” Feeling they could not go into dinner without their guest of honor my grandmother herself went upstairs and knocked on the bathroom door calling out to the Admiral. From beyond the door a voice replied, “Oh Lady Louis, I can not get out of the bath, every time I try a small wild creature threatens my private parts.”

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