Just When You Think?

Just when you think the Royal Canadian Legion could not possibly sink any lower they do this.

 

 

What a  wonderful way to remember our fallen, lets sell cheap booze in their memories, after all we gotta make a profit somehow????? This is your present day legion run by civvies and protecting the memories of our fallen heros, our veterans and above all the Sacred Poppy. I’m beyond disgusted, there are no words to describe this latest outrage.

God Bless and keep reading

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Indeed a Good Friday!

This is
Good Friday and is indeed a beautiful day, the sun is out the sky is blue and it’s wonderfully warm. I’m still a long way from a complete recovery but feeling so much better. Linda and I had lunch out on the deck, bacon eggs toast and big mug of tea. Linda off for a run on her motorbike and I’m comfortably settled in my chair. Life is good, especially good today. God
Bless and keep reading

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Sinking to Crush Depth

A Submariners Story.

This story records what was probably the most frightening two minutes of my life.

A Submariner’s Story (Sinking to Crush depth)navy000824883alcide_auriga_halifax_63

It was a 0400 hrs on a Thursday morning in early April 1964. The day arrived just like a hundred other mornings aboard a British submarine at sea. Roughly roused from the tranquility of sleep it was my turn to go on watch. My name is Fred Rodgers, but aboard Alcide I go by the nickname Ben. Just about everyone in the navy has a nickname. For example, with the surname Reynolds you’d be known as Debbie. Please don’t ask, I have no idea how I came by the name Ben. I’m a Leading Seaman having served for a little over five years in the Submarine Service. I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and joined the Royal Navy in 1955.
Reluctantly climbing out of my warm bunk I slowly lower my feet on to the deck. At sea we never change clothes or undress so I’m ready to go on watch. Before heading for the control room I pay a visit to the head. The boat is running normal and quiet as I take up my duty in the control room. The watch change continues with bleary-eyed submariners dragging themselves to their various duties.
The Royal Navy “A” class submarine was cruising at four knots one hundred feet below the surface of the North Atlantic. Our job was to patrol in a designated zone listening for intruders, the polite name for Russian’s. The cold war was in full swing. I was sitting at the fore plane’s control dreading the four long hours ahead. The stale damp air in the boat was a familiar mixture of body odor and diesel fumes. The harsh white overhead lights hurt my still sleepy eyes.
At approximately 0430hrs the morning kye (hot chocolate) arrived. The officer of the watch gave permission for one all round. One all round was the signal to light up; smoking out of necessity was a restricted privilege aboard a submarine. The watch was relaxed with the boat in the hands of George the autopilot. George was designed to control course, speed and depth. Nevertheless, we were vigilant as George could be notoriously unreliable at times.

While keeping a keen eye on the depth I helped solve the world’s major problems with my fellow watch-keepers. After much debate we selected the best car of the year. We touched on the problems of religion, politics and anything else that came to mind. Around 0730hrs a wonderful aroma of bacon frying in the galley invaded my nostrils. I was hungry and anxious to see my relief. At a few minutes after 0800hrs I headed aft to collect my breakfast. The tiny galley on an “A” class boat is located in the after part of the control room beside the engine room door. Weary from four hours on watch I leaned against the bulkhead watching eggs sizzle on the grill. As the chef piled two eggs and several rashers of bacon on my plate I sensed the deck angle change downward. I smiled as I listened to the officer of the watch berating the plainsman who had just relieved me. “Come on lad wake up and watch your depth”. I knew he couldn’t blame George. It had been shut down at the watch change.

Suddenly it was clear the downward angle was not the fault of the planesman – we appeared to be in a steep dive!
In a matter of seconds we were at 200 feet. The 1st Lieutenant rushed into the control room, immediately taking charge of what was rapidly becoming a serious situation. The order to shut off for going deep sounded throughout the submarine. The captain’s cabin is located above the control room outside the main pressure hull. Our skipper was asleep in the cabin. Going deep meant the lower conning tower hatch along with every other hatch inside the boat was quickly shut. This effectively left the captain isolated and alone outside the main pressure hull. I assisted in shutting the engine room door and all valves passing through the bulkhead. I returned to the control room to report that part of ship sealed.

Events now seemed to evolve in slow motion as the crew went about their duties sealing the boat for the deep dive. Every eye in the control room focused on the rapidly descending depth gauge readings. Passing 400 feet the 1st Lieutenant ordered the one thing we were waiting for, “blow main ballast”. This would surely correct the uncontrolled descent and allow us to regain buoyancy. The sound of air screeching into the ballast tanks was reassuring as we waited for the boat to level off and start rising. I stood breathless and motionless unable to take my eyes off the depth gauge.
I wasn’t alone. It seemed every man in the control room was frozen in time eyes firmly fixed on the same gauge. When the blow was completed an eerie and utter silence returned to the boat.
We were still sinking. Blowing the tanks had not even slowed us down. The sea bottom perhaps two miles below we would never reach in one piece. As we passed through 600 feet the 1st lieutenant threw his shirt over the depth gauge. It effectively broke our trance like concentration.

Now in the silence, we heard the first groans and creaks as the hull compressed under the enormous sea pressure. The feeling of being trapped in a steel tube as it plunges toward its crush depth is terrifying. Powerless to do anything, I stood fearfully awaiting the end. I wondered would people know what happened to us or if we would be thought of as dying bravely. I thought of never seeing a blue sky or green grass again and other strange thoughts. I ask myself the silly question of why I’d volunteered for the submarine service. I remembered the lessons we were taught during training. An “A” boat has a maximum depth of 500 feet. The hull was designed and thought to withstand sea pressure to 1000 feet. That theory wasn’t very reassuring at that moment, and the builders weren’t here to actually attest to its accuracy. Besides which, Alcide was more than twenty years old, the pressure hull would have certainly deteriorated during that time.

I was gripped by a fear never before experienced, while outwardly I tried to maintain an appearance of calm. As we continued our descent a strange feeling of calm did indeed over take me. I relaxed realizing I was no longer in control of events unfolding around me. Through the fog of these thoughts and theories, I became aware my right hand was hurting. I had a death grip on a stanchion but couldn’t let go thinking I might be adding strength to the hull.
Suddenly a voice pierced my silent reverie. “Bubble rising sir” I wasn’t at first sure I’d heard correctly. Maybe I was dreaming and this was naturally what I’d want to hear. However, shifting my weight to allow for a sudden upward sweep of the deck, I knew we were rising! The boat was now racing toward the surface at about the same speed we had dived moments before. Clearly no one wanted to slow our ascent even though sonar could not safely report surface contacts at this speed.

When we broke surface a relieved skipper was the first man on the bridge. Trapped alone in his tiny cabin not knowing what was happening must have been a frightening ordeal. The entire experience had only taken minutes. Yet for those of us in the control room minutes had seemed like hours. The first question everyone asked. “What happened?” “What caused the sudden dive?” I wasn’t so concerned with the cause, just happy to be alive and back on the surface. Still hungry, my thoughts quickly returned to my breakfast.

On reaching the seaman’s mess I found it alive with chatter about the recent event. I think it was mostly bravado hiding fear. Shipmates eagerly related tales of worse experiences (supposedly) on other boats. “On such and such we hit the sea bed at 800 feet!” “Oh yeah! On my last boat we sank stern first and were stuck on the sea bed for hours!” And so the stories went on. Personally it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I truly believe I’d walked through the valley of the shadow of death that morning and only by the grace of God had survived.

But what really happened? What caused the steep dive? How deep did we actually go? These are questions I can’t answer with any certainty. The best theory offered and perhaps the actual cause was an iceberg. Icebergs are generally made up of fresh water and as they move into the Gulf Stream they melt.
That morning it is possible the submarine entered at the top of a huge pocket of fresh water, the remains of an iceberg. With the difference in water density between salt and fresh we immediately became very heavy and dropped like a stone. Only when we exited at the bottom of the berg did we regain our buoyancy.
How deep we went that morning is open to speculation. Perhaps somewhere near 800 feet. Had the berg been a few feet deeper maybe I wouldn’t be telling this story – who knows?
The End

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Lets Make Cymbria PE the Birth Place of Female Soccer in Canada

The History of Girls Soccer on PEI

 This is an old post but maybe a good place to start in our latest project
 
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             The Original Team ‘Hillis Oil Stars’ 1976IMG_0002

Back Row L-R Anna Doucette.Jean Neill.Diane Pineau.Donna Ford.Joan Gallant.Cathy Blanchard.Caroline Rodgers.

Front Row L-R Barbara Gallant.Pamela Blanchard.Michelle Blanchard.Janice Blacquiere.Shelley Doucette.Phyllis Gallant. (Missing)

————————————————————————————————————

 

I’m not sure what prompted me to write a history of girl’s soccer on PEI, perhaps I have caught the fever and excitement of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Whatever the reason, it is surely the right time to record the story of our meagre beginnings. Today, as I drive across the Island I’m amazed to see so many girls playing soccer on so many soccer fields.

 

However, over forty years ago girls playing soccer was almost unheard of. In early 1975 my wife and I returned from Ontario to make our home at Cymbria with our two young daughters. We soon found living so far from town it was difficult to find something constructive for the girls to do. I’d loved soccer all my life, as a boy I’d kick a tennis ball around the streets of Belfast. I had played for my school and the Boys Brigade league. Sadly I never made it to the professional levels that I’d dreamed of. My biggest moment came when I was selected to play for the Royal Navy against the British Army in 1956. They thrashed us 7-1 but the single goal for the Navy was mine. So you see soccer was my game and I thought why not teach my girls to play it too.

 

I never for a minute realised what I was starting or the difficulties I would face in promoting girls soccer. My first job was to form an all girls team from the local area. This was the easy part we set up at the local St Augustine’s school and lots of girls showed an interest. At this time I was working for a Quaker State Oil Distributor (Hillis Oil) based in Halifax and talked the boss into giving me a dozen white tee shirts with the Quaker State logo on them. I asked the girls to provide their own green shorts and socks. We ended up with a variety of green shades and several different styles of shorts and socks. Nevertheless, we had a uniform and a name ‘Hillis Oil Stars’. The next problem was finding a team to play against. North Rustico managed to put a girl’s team together and we played a couple of games before their coach moved on and the team dissolved. Our first year of soccer was mostly one of practicing and playing five or six aside.

 

In the following year of 1976 I approached Tom Wallis, president of the Charlottetown Soccer Association and registered our team in the under twelve boy’s league. The cost for each girl to register was three dollars, and this made us the first PEI female soccer team to become a member of the Canadian Soccer Association. When I started the team I hadn’t paid much attention to age, but once registered it was pointed out that I had one over aged player, she had just turned thirteen. My first reaction was to drop out of the league rather than tell the girl she couldn’t play. However, talking it over with Tom it was decided, as we were a girl’s team surely none of the boys or coaches would complain. Indeed none did in the first few games. That was probably because we lost those games quite decisively. After about six or seven game we began playing better and pulled off our first draw much to the embarrassment of our opponents. This really spurred the girls to train harder and in the next few weeks we played three more games that all ended in ties. Now the complaining began, it’s not fair you guys (girls) have over aged players on your team. Surprisingly, the loudest complaints came from the coaches!

 

As the season was almost over I decided we’d drop out of the league and end the issue. In 1977 a girl’s under fourteen league was formed with six teams. During the next few years I came up against a variety of difficulties and problems. One of the first was appointing a suitable goalkeeper. Girls saw this as an easy job with a minimum expenditure of energy and I was flooded with volunteers. A few games later no one wanted to play in goals having quickly discovered it wasn’t as easy as it appeared. I faced a situation of no one willing to take the keepers job, it forced me to insist on someone filing the position. I remember one young girl who protested loudly that she didn’t want the job. I put her in the nets anyway. The first strike at our goal was a weak one and the ball trickled over the line while my keeper stood by the post pouting and watching it. On another occasion a young eleven-year-old redhead arrived at the field and asked if she could play. I put her in goal and was immediately impressed by her skills. That was until she broke her thumb. I was sure I’d seen the last of her and expected to hear from her parents. I was wrong on both counts. She came back the following week wearing a caste and proved she was an even better player out on the field.

 

During the school year the administration kept the grass cut on the field. Unfortunately that wasn’t when we played, our games took place in the summer. We had to cut the grass ourselves for each home game on what was better describe as a hay field. I usually managed this chore with the aid of a couple of girls and two or three push mowers. Our first goal post were made from two pine tree poles and a rope as the cross bar. We had no lines on the field and judged out of play to be the long grass at the edge of the pitch. In the first few years we had no official referees so usually the job fell to the home coach. Our away games raised problems of transportation. It was rare to see a parent at a game and even rarer to have one help drive the girls to games. Fortunately we were living in a time before compulsory seat belts and I often piled all eleven girls into my station wagon. These were the days long before soccer moms and mini vans.

 

As the girl’s league developed and the skill levels improved finding coaches became an issue. We were forced to move our teams up to a higher age level as the girls reach their next birthdays. By the nineteen eighties the girls were playing in an under eighteen league and later a woman’s league. I attempted to get the high schools involved believing it would help girl’s soccer grow. Another brick wall! When talking with the Principal at Bluefield I was politely told that girls shouldn’t play soccer. He gave the strange reason that their physical make up wasn’t suitable. I pointed out that his girls were presently playing field hockey, a similar sport differing only in that they carried sticks. Nevertheless, I was clearly wasting my time going in this direction for the moment.

 

By the mid eighties girls soccer was well established, we had real soccer kits, real goal post and sometimes even had nets. Referees were now part of the league making life for the coaches a little easier. Soccer was growing throughout the Province for both male and female and schools were beginning to take an interest. I have always considered the Hillis Oil Stars to be one of the top teams through those years. We won the league on several occasions and came close to winning the Atlantic championship in Newfoundland. A few of our girls had never had the opportunity to travel beyond the island until they began playing soccer. I think playing in Cymbria helped build a wonderful community spirit that thrives to this day. I coached many of the girls that started with me in 1975 for more than thirteen years with never a moments regret. I have watched them grow, leave school, marry and teach or encourage their own children to play the ‘Wonderful Game’.

 

 

I’m retired now and still living in the same area where I often bump into the mothers who were once my girl’s team. I’m no longer able to coach but with the wonder of satellite television I enjoy watching my favourite teams from back in the old country. Now I have to complete this story the World Cup is about to begin.006007003

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Spectacular Failures

I do not believe anyone could argue MacLauchlan’s brief term as Premier has been a litany of failures. However, this latest colossal reversal of school closures can only be described as his most Spectacular. He has succeeded in enraging the majority of Islanders, particularly rural islanders. We must also assume that many of those islanders supported the liberals in the last election, but will they in the next?? It must be clear to the Liberal Party they are in serious trouble and surely a leadership review cannot be far off. If the party has any hope of forming another government in the next election MacLauchlan must go, and he must go sooner rather than later.

Respectfully Submitted F.Ben Rodgers Abram Village PE

 

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Sorry no blogs for awhile

Health issue try to get back soon

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A Little Sunday Humour

THE ITALIAN FIDELITY TEST

I was a very happy man.   My wonderful girlfriend and I had been
dating for over a year.   So we decided to get married.

There was only one little thing bothering me.

It was her beautiful younger sister, Sofia.

My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight mini
skirts, and generally was bra-less.

She would regularly bend down when she was near me.   I always got
more than a nice view.

It had to be deliberate.  She never did it around anyone else.

One day she called me and asked me to come over.  ‘To check my
Sister’s wedding- invitations’ she said.

She was alone when I arrived.  She whispered to me that she had
feelings and desires for me.  She couldn’t overcome them anymore.

She told me that she wanted me just once before I got married.   She
said “Before you commit your life to my sister”.

Well, I was in total shock, and I couldn’t say a word.  She said, “I’m
going upstairs to my bedroom” she said,  “if you want one last wild
fling,  just come up and have me”.

I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs.

I stood there for a moment.  Then turned and made a bee-line straight
to the front door.   I opened the door, and headed straight towards my
car.

Lord and behold, my fiancé’s entire family was standing outside, all
clapping and cheering!

With tears in his eyes, my future father-in-law hugged me.   He said,
‘Frankie, we are very happy that you have passed our little test.  We
couldn’t ask for a better man for our daughter.  Welcome to the family
my son.’

And the moral of this story is:

 
 
 
                           continue
 
 
 
                           continue
 
 
 
 
 
                           continue
 
 

     continue

 
 



Always keep your

condoms in your car.

 

 

 

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A Classic Example “Of Passing the Buck”

 This is my letter to Robert Henderson!
I’m a 78 year old veteran and senior citizen living on a fixed income. I have type 2 diabetes and require foot care every seven weeks. This is carried out by Ms Stephanie St-Onge. C,Pod, specialising in diabetic foot care. the cost of these treatment are expensive and I fail to understand why I also have to pay 15% HST. If It becomes that I cannot afford these necessary treatments and my feet are neglected I will end up costing the Health care system much more.  Gouging a tax from a health condition is completely unwarranted in my view. I would like you to explain why you see it as a necessary charge. I would further point out that many nurses preform this service without charging the HST, however they are not in my opinion properly qualified in this procedure. Sheridan once explain he needed the HST to create a level playing field. Well Minister of Health this is anything but a level playing field for me. I look forward to your response
 Respectfully submitted F.Ben Rodgers Abram Village PE.
 This is Robert Henderson’s reply
Mr. Rodgers:
I want to thank you for your email outlining your concerns.  However, the Department of Finance oversees the assigning of sales tax.  By way of this email, I am forwarding your concerns to the Minister of Finance for consideration.
Rob.
How silly of me to expect this overworked and  overpaid liberal politician to get off his ass and actually try to help an islanders. Especially as he is only half way through his term, doesn’t have to worry about re-election for two more years. That is plenty of time to appear to have interest in the voting public. So here folks is another classic example of liberals in action. Please remember when the next election comes around its time to take this lot to the nearest landfill site.
God Bless and keep reading
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A Radical Idea for the Legions

I have a rare blood disorder and the latest medication has a side effect of making sleeping difficult. Last night I tossed and turned and finally gave up trying to sleep. As most people know when lying awake our minds become very active with some amazing ideas and some not so amazing. Well last night this idea came to mind, not sure if its either amazing or dumb. I was thinking of how the legion was born just after the end of the first World War, 1925 I believe. At that time there were hundreds of small veteran groups throughout the nation, indeed throughout the Empire. They were seeking help for the maimed and sick from that terrible war that was supposed to end all wars. However such small groups had little or no voice, hence the Royal Canadian Legion was born and became the umbrella group for all. The Legion quickly became a powerful voice and governments had to listen. Veterans flocked to join this wonderful organisation who took care of their members. After the end of the second World War a new wave of veterans joined and the legion continued  to act on behalf of their members. Legion branches sprung up all over Canada and were quickly recognized by the local populations with a sense of pride and honour.

Fast forward to 2017, Legions are no longer flourishing and membership is declining at an alarming rate, the question is WHY. When I think about this the situation I find it is not so different from 1925. Back then we had all these little groups struggling to fine help. Today we have many splinter groups of veterans breaking away from the Legions.. I’m not sure how many or how large they are, perhaps ANAVETs is the fastest growing. But there are hundreds more, mostly associations like the RCNA, RCAFA, numerous Army regimental units, even a Submarine Assoc East and West. Probably others I’m unaware of, there is even veterans biker clubs. The point is these fine organisations could be invited to join with the Legions. Maybe similar to how it took place back in 1925. I don’t suggest they give up there charters, uniforms or insignias, they could join with the legion for a nominal fee (perhaps $5 or $10) maybe wear a small legion badge to complete the legion connection.  Association fees could be increased to offset this. Indeed increasing the association fees might thin out the less desirables that only use their membership as a local watering hole, they provide little or no help within the branches. The new groups could use the legion branches for their meetings/functions instead of renting or maintaining their own meeting rooms.

When we look back say 40/50 years, could anyone one have imagined  our leaders wildly merchandizing the sacred POPPY? Today anyone can buy tatty poppy earrings coffee mugs ,umbrellas, pins, for some, one year free memberships, and much more. Why a newly joined associate can even buy a couple of legion service medals at $25 each to wear on his legion uniform. Its as if the leadership is running around in in ever decreasing circles wondering where they are going to end up.. I still see with angry eyes,  Tom Eagles  in Ottawa, resplendent in his legion uniform plus thirteen medals, white gloves etc. He laid the Legion wreath at the National War Memorial on behalf of all veterans. Yet this associate member is a absolute civilian, has never served a day in his life but the crowds clapped and paid homage!!!

Allow me to use PEI as my example of what might be possible if we all amalgamated. The Island is a small province with approximately eleven active branches here, and one on the Magdalene Islands. To the best of my knowledge there are no Naval Associations, maybe a couple of RCAFA, and perhaps one or two Army associations. I’m not aware of any other local groups. For this reason not much ever happens on PEI beyond Remembrance Day Parades. The Naval reserve hold a Battle of the Atlantic Church service and parade at different points around the province. I usually hear about it the day after in the local newspaper. The RCAFA hold a Battle of Britain service, and like the Atlantic Parade I read about it the next day. Nothing seems to be published or coordinated by the Provincial Command, it seems everybody does their own thing. However if in each district or branch we had a person appointed to announce all Naval-Army and Air force events, more interest and better turn outs could be achieved. In fact this could instill a new interest and energy.

Imagine (still on PEI) if we had a naval co-coordinator here and through similar persons in Nova Scotia a trip to visit a Foreign or Canadian warship was arranged, perhaps a visit to the International Tattoo, the Maritime Museum, HMCS Sackville or some other Naval event. A bus could be arranged for a day trip for a reasonable fee. The same for the Army, maybe a visit to CFB Gagetown, for the Air force guys CFB Shearwater or Greenwood. The possibilities are endless, surely it would create a whole new interest in the struggling legion branches. Has to be better than darts-card or BBQs,  Imagine if it was happening all over the country. All this might be possible if the Legion leaders can get their act together. Appoint a committee of Veterans not associates and raise a paper of suggestions and purposes . Then send it across the country to all the branches and independent groups, hold meeting in town halls, legions and  club rooms, open the discussion and begin the process. Of course there will be many objections and arguments, I don’t suggest it will be easy, nothing ever is. Surely its better than what is or isn’t being done at the moment.

If we fail to do anything then I would predict the legions will be gone within the next decade, or at best the next two decades. I believe this is a sensible idea, I realize it has lots of holes but I think they can be overcome if we work together. At present most suggestions fall on deaf ears at both Dominion and Provincial Commands, and keep in mind those same ears are mostly associate ears. Legion veteran members write and tell me we have to take the legion back, but the question is how to do that. Many veterans are like me too old to take active rolls, Many veterans are bitter and or angry and many more have just given up in disgust.

Some of you will think that I’m just a dreamer! but remember at the beginning of the blog I told you I couldn’t sleep so this idea was born wide awake. Yeah I know, still a dreamer.

He who dares to dream! and with take I’ll sign off and take another pill.

God Bless and keep reading

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Do You Have Aplomb????

This message is for those who appreciate the finer points of the English language used correctly.

 

His Lordship was in the study when the butler approached and coughed discreetly.

 

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“May I ask you a question, My Lord?”

 

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“Go ahead, Carson ,” said His Lordship.

 

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“I am doing the crossword in The Times and found a word the exact meaning of which I am not too certain.”

 

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“What word is that?” asked His Lordship.

 

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“Aplomb,” My Lord.

 

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“Now that’s a difficult one to explain. I would say it is self-assurance or complete composure.”

 

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“Thank you, My Lord, but I’m still a little confused about it.”

 

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“Let me give you an example to make it clearer. Do you remember a few months ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived to spend a weekend with us?”

 

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“I remember the occasion very well, My Lord. It gave the staff and myself much pleasure to look after them.”

 

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“Also,” continued the Earl of Grantham, “do you remember when Wills plucked a rose for Kate in the rose garden?”

 

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“I was present on that occasion, My Lord, ministering to their needs.

 

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“While Will was plucking the rose, a thorn embedded itself in his thumb very deeply.”

 

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“I witnessed the incident, My Lord, and saw the Duchess herself remove the thorn and bandage his thumb with her own dainty handkerchief.”

 

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“That evening the hole the rose made in his thumb was very sore. Kate had to cut his venison for him, even though it was extremely tender.”

 

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“Yes, My Lord, I did see everything that transpired that evening.”

 

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“And do you remember the next morning while you were pouring coffee for Her Ladyship, Kate inquired of Will in a loud voice,

Darling, does your prick still throb?’

 

And you, Carson, did not spill one drop of coffee ?

 

That, Carson, is complete composure, or aplomb.”

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