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Work Up

Work Up

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Work Up

232 pagine
3 ore
Feb 12, 2012


1965, dead centre of the 60's decade, a decade of youthful anarchy, of drunkness and debauchery. There were over 100,000 Sailors in the Royal Navy and they had no wars to fight, it was an incredible period of peace for the Force. So what did they do? This novel sheds some light on that question. It focuses on a very small number of Sailors, serving on a very small ship, whilst undergoing the Work Up at Portland, in Dorset, England, which was a requirement of every Ship before it joined the Fleet. It was a time when the only thing PC stood for was a Pint Of Cider, a time before suspenders had gone out of fashion, but mini-skirts were in, it was a time of sex and sedition, of drunkeness and debauchery. This novel is extremely rude, the main character is rude about everything and to everyone, so if you are easily offended, please feel free to be offended by it.

Feb 12, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

S.D. Gripton novels and real crime books are written by Dennis Snape, who is married to Sally who originate from North Wales and Manchester respectively and who met 18 years ago. I work very hard to make a reading experience a good one, with good plots and earthy language. I enjoy writing and hope readers enjoy what I have written. I thank everyone who has ever looked at at one of my books.

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Work Up - S.D. Gripton



S.D. Gripton

© Dennis Snape and Sally Dillon-Snape (2020)

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you're reading this ebook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author

A Smashwords Edition

This novel is from our imaginations, mostly, and none of the characters reflect real people alive or dead.

This book is dedicated to all the Sailors, male and female, I ever served with in all the Ships and on all the Shore Bases. It was fun, but not quite as much fun as I have indicated.

Front cover is by Katie Spencer

Other Books by S.D. Gripton

Mariska Masekova/Dave Lewis Investigations:

Dark Times

Red Die

Darke Revenge

Butterfield’s Hate

Twin Strike

Other Crime and Detective Books:

Run Money

Oklahoma Blue

Streets Of Filth

Where No Crows Fly

City Of Sinners

Bleak Winter’s Heart

Real Crime:

The Tower:

Events, Music, Movies and Serial Killers of the 1960's

Adult Humour

Work Up

A Love Story:

Remembrance Day


Twitter: @SDGripton

Facebook: S.D. Gripton


It's in the spring of sixty-five, ah-ah me hearties, shiver me timbers, swing that lamp (this is a tale of the sea and if I want to include some sea-like phrases, even borrowed ones, then I will - that all right with you, man?), when I steal the Subbuteo.

Amazingly, the suggestion to purchase said flicking game (I did say flicking: the really bad language comes later, thought I’d let you get into the story first), has not been my own. No, on this occasion, I have to point to another for this flash of financial brilliance.

Step forward Smudger Smith, my oppo.

The fat twat (here comes the bad language: (okay, I admit, it didn’t take that long to introduce it).

We, my Oppo Smudger and me, were ensconced in a tidy little inn in a tiny village in the West of Wales, ashore from our Naval Air Base (like, man, I would like to explain to all you non-naval types at this point how it is that one can go ashore from a land base that takes up several hundred acres of prime Welsh farmland and has a bloody great runway running down the centre of it. Like, all naval bases are H.M.S.’s, Her Majesty’s Ship, or His Majesty when we have a king, if we ever have one, and even though Smudger and me are living with Airy-Fairy pansy Fleet Air Arm types; I have never been able to work out why the Navy has an Air Force when the Air Force seems to have a perfectly adequate one; just as I can never quite work out why all Fleet Air Arm types have to be so squeaky clean, so boring and so weak, but I digress; so the base is still, technically, a Ship, so when you go out, you go ashore. You still with me? No? Well, I don’t care), and we were pissed.

I tell a lie.

We were very pissed.

In this enchanting state, as we sat upon our bar stools, swaying as very pissed Sailors are supposed to sway, in a moment that can only be described as sheer genius, Smudger said, in that inimitable Welsh accent of his, Let’s buy a fucking Subbuteo.

I didn’t immediately see the genius of it.

What the fuck for? I said, me being every bit as foul-mouthed as he.

To make some money, he said beguilingly and swayingly. What else for?

I ask, oppo Smudger, because I have never heard of any one becoming Rothschildian by playing a game of Subbuteo…

And it was at this point that I flew off my bar stool, propelled almost the whole length of the inn by the thump I received from Smudger. He was renowned for being in possession of a very fine thump, and he used it on me often. Usually I saw it coming and rode it, but on this occasion I’d made the mistake of ignoring his intense hatred of long words, words that made him look stupid, words he couldn’t understand. Rothschildian had done for him. Subbuteo was, in fact, the longest word I’d ever heard him use.

Sorry, Smudger, I said, as I climbed back on my stool, following my apologies to the two elderly Welshmen who made up the rest of the customers in the inn.

Long words? the one with no teeth said.

I nodded my agreement.

I was yet to get to the bottom of the financial rewards of buying a Subbuteo football set, and had not yet recovered from the shock of him actually thinking of a word that long. Most of his vocabulary either began with an ‘f’, or a ‘c’ or a ‘t’ for both tit and twat.

I wiped a smidgeon of blood from my nose and said.

So, noble oppo, Subbuteo, riches, retirement. Explain.

Well, be began as he swayed towards me, like, you know, we buy a Subbuteo and we form leagues, run cup competitions and we charge every team to play in every match, say a bob a game, and we keep all the money.

For a moment he smiled, which was not a pretty sight with so many of his teeth missing (he did fight a lot, but he also played rugby, something that was almost a religious calling for someone who was Welsh, but not for me, I hated the game, it looked so violent. He tried to teach me once, but I kept forward passing the ball; he screamed, he shouted, eventually he thumped me and told me to fuck off. It wasn’t easy, doing that many deliberate forward passes), but he soon resorted to his thug-like appearance. And anyone who doesn’t want to play gets thumped.

That was my Oppo Smudger.

Anyway, like, shit man, it is such a good idea that in no time at all we have forty leagues established and, really, it is such an good earner that when I'm drafted from the Air Base, well, in all conscience I cannot leave the organisation of it in the hands of such an incompetent as my Oppo Smudger, so I steal it.

As it turns out, the stealing of the Subbuteo is one of the better moves of my, so far, five-year-old Royal Naval career. As I sit in another Ship on the Surry/Sussex border, miles from the sea, Chichester being the closest, thirty-three miles away, Subbuteo leagues are spread the length and breadth of the Fleet, on a franchise basis, they are all under my personal paternal, control, I am the President of the International Finger Flicking Football World, and the bobs come to me from all over the globe. I haven’t made this much money since selling sandwiches in St. Budeaux with my oppo Dave.

It was a really good idea of Smudger’s.

Not that he had many good ideas; he rarely had an idea of any kind if I am to be honest. Normally, he just drank a lot, swore a lot, vomited a great deal and thumped people. He was not what could be described as Einsteinian. Oops, that’s a word that would have gotten me a thump had we been together.

That's in the spring of sixty-five.

Now it is six months further along in my life and I am thoroughly pissed off.

The Navy, unknowingly, has stripped me of my Finger Flicking glory, my franchises are falling apart and my bobs have dried up.

The Royal Navy has sent me to sea.

To sea, for God’s sake! On a bloody ship!

A Ship!

It is almost too horrendous to think of. I haven’t been on one for years, it is not what a self-respecting, patriotic sailor does, go to sea. I’ve done my best, watching the grey-painted warrior vessels sailing away from my place on Plymouth Hoe; or from a bar at Southsea, and I’ve laid back and thought of England, St. George and the Queen many, many times.

But grey-painted Warrior Vessels take on completely different characteristics when one is actually aboard. For a start the people on board them, in other words The Crew, are expected to be warrior-like, in keeping with the ship.

I have a problem with that immediately.

I haven't joined up to be warrior-like, it never even occurred to me that I may be joining a Fighting Force when I enrolled, I only joined to see the world for free, to have a few drinks, to meet a few women, to make a few friends and all these things I have done and more, and I want to continue doing them in my own time and at my own pace.

I do not want to be a warrior on a fighting ship, riding waves that can be enormously high (I’d seen such things and once is enough), but no matter how much I moan, how high I take my case, it’s a Ship for me.

I have been drafted.

It’s just not what I had in mind when I joined, that’s all I’m saying. I mean, man, I do not have a warrior corpuscle in my whole body, I am a lover, not a fighter, a drinker not a Government sponsored pirate.

When my draft orders come through, I immediately make a visit to my Petty Officer and complain.

Fuck off to sea, you skiving little Welsh bastard, he says (which I think is wrong on so many fronts).

And he tries to confiscate my Subbuteo.

So here I am, being thrown from arse-hole to breakfast on a metal tub that is somewhat euphemistically described to me as a Warship. My Ship, I’m told. But give me a shore-base anytime.

These Ship things, I’d quite forgotten how they smell. They smell of fuel-oil, of bodies (though sailors are cleaner than most, in fact, only fish spend more time in water) and all kinds of noxious fumes. We are packed so closely together that if one person farts, sixteen say sorry and I’m used to a little bit more room than that, thank you very much, man.

And sea-legs.

Forget them! The last time these legs had had anything to do with the sea was when they paddled in it at Rhyl.

Life just isn’t fair.

Here I am, being lobbed around like a ball in a game of Zeusian tennis, as this floating kettle with guns on makes its ungainly rolling, pitching way from one wave peak to another. I mean, let’s get real, man. Who wants to spend his life feeling ill? Who wants to be vomiting all the time, never able to keep a meal down? Not, me, that’s for sure.

But it isn’t just the movement of The Ship that’s making me ill, if only; it's knowing our destination.

We are going to our Death.

At least, I am.

Our destination is a place where seasoned sailors, even Officers, tremble in fear of demotion; where, I’ve heard, thumbscrews are applied, heads shaved, backs lashed and beatings the norm. And all these things can happen to A Sailor Who Does Not Know How To Do His Job.

I am A Sailor Who Does Not Know How To Do His Job.

I’ve been trained to do it, of course. There was a time when I could have typed at a thousand words a minute; could have read a flashing light with my eyes closed; when I could have read semaphore backwards (in the War, they used to do that!) or standing on my fucking head; and I could have read, translated and understood any Flag Signal or told you the Country of any National Flag flown; when I knew the Seniority of every Officer in the Fleet by heart and could code and decode like a whizz, an absolute bloody whizz.

But that was years ago.

I haven’t practised any of these skills for years, they are just not relevant to my lifestyle; they have all been forgotten during my time playing with aeroplanes, walking on stuff that did not go up and down and wasn’t wet; when going ashore was a stroll down a country lane to the pub and not a literal thing; when being a skilful sailor had more to do with how much you can drink rather than how many Ships one has been on, how much action you’ve seen (not that there is much action for a sailor in the Navy in the sixties-we aren’t fighting anyone and no one is fighting us, and that's the way it should be, we’re just passing time having fun). And that’s my point. What is the point of a fighting force if we haven’t got anyone to fight, what's the point of training to fight? And if I have got to be on a Ship, why can’t I be a passenger (lots of Sailors on this ship think I am already one, but my argument is this-what does a fucking Captain do? All he does is tell other people to do things, he’s a passenger, and I want his job because I can do that).

What I can no longer do is read semaphore, even when the flags are thrown slowly; or make any sense of flashing lights, they are a mystery to me; and as far as working out what all those pretty coloured flags mean, well, quite frankly, who needs to know? I am hopeless at coding and decoding, and in this man’s Navy I am to the art of Communication what Vince Eager is to the art of pop music.

No wonder I am feeling ill.

For our destination is Portland.

Whisper it softly.

Portland; where we are to take part in what the Royal Navy likes to call the Work Up.

The Work Up is the Royal Navy’s idea of fun.

That fun includes taking a ship full of strangers, which my Ship is (I know nobody on board), along the coast from Plymouth to Portland, where the strangers are introduced to each other (and I like to make my own friends, thank you very much). They do these introductions by turning the strangers into A Team; even worse than that, man, A Fighting Team.

The ship spends some weeks doing the Work Up until everyone on board knows where they are supposed to work, what they’re supposed to do in an emergency or during wartie, where they’re supposed to go, how they’re supposed to fight (presumably how to die, but I don’t want to think about that) and when we have learned all these things we go to War. For five days. We prove ourselves to be a proud member of the fleet of the Royal Navy, with a crew that can do anything.

We will be A Machine.

But I don’t want to be part of A Machine.

I want to be me, man.

I don’t even like team games, obviously I don’t like rugby, but I don’t like football or hockey either; I’m an individualist, a swimmer, one man against the rest, the only team game I ever take part in is the Medley Relay in swimming, and then we don’t touch or meet.. I arrive and someone else leaves or they arrive and I leave. And we do it without speaking.

I do not want to be part of A Machine.

I am not a spark-plug.

But a part of A Machine is what the Navy wants me to become.

Then they want to turn me into part of A Fighting Machine.

It’s my worst fucking nightmare.

I can barely believe it’s happened to me because, when you think about it, man, A Fighting Machine usually comes up against other Fighting Machines and they fight back.

I do not want to fight. I have no enemies. I hate nobody.

As I have already mentioned, I did not join up to fight. But will anyone listen? You guessed it, the big N.O.

No wonder I am not a little happy Naval type person.

And, God Bless Me, I have tried my very best not to be here. I have notes from Doctors up to my arm-pits explaining how ill the sea makes me; how much living in crowded messes, messes with my head; how I could die of sea-sickness; I have letters from Vicars demanding my presence in Chapel, without which Christianity might fall; I even have a note from my dear old mam informing the Authorities that going to sea, being part of A Machine, is not what I joined up for.

All to no avail.

I am still at sea, afloat under grey skies, sailing on grey seas, being transported in my grey ship. I know this Ship is grey because I painted it, three coats, from bow to stern, all by myself. I don’t mind a spot of painting, especially when one is given a ten-inch brush with no special instructions whether the paint is applied to a Ship, on hands or clothing, or on the nearest sailor standing next to you.

Painting is fun.

What I hate are Chipping Hammers.

Chipping Hammers are the little hand-held lumps of metal with which one has to chip off all the paint that is already on a Ship before one can begin to put paint back on it. Chipping Hammers chip paint off in very small amounts and the chips get up your nose, in your hair, in your eyes, your mouth, down your shirt and into your pants and shoes, even up ones bum. Everywhere. I have also chipped off all the old paint on my own and am now the proud owner of wrists like Henry Cooper.

I have been something of a hero in the chipping and painting departments which comes as

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