A recent visit to the esteemed National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, instantly brought back some wonderful memories when I saw the micro-exhibition of Waterline Pictures (1925-1970). These came from the Marine Photo Service collection of 16,500 negatives, bought by the NMM in 1996. Curator Mr John Graves then selected two hundred of these images to reproduce in the NMM publication Waterline - Images from the Golden Age of Cruising.
Gentle reader, we are part of a maritime nation, and I believe this book will prove it to you, whatever your age. The pictures will bring back memories for some, delight many others, and amaze and amuse along the way. It is a glorious picture book, with fascinating text to bring the pictures to life. I was a Purserette with Union-Castle Line in the 1960s and those sea-going days on the lavender-hulled Mailships heading to and from Africa were one of the highlights of my life, so I know this is a book to treasure.
The Crossing-the-Line ceremony is mentioned, for passengers crossing the Equator for the first time. Ship's officers and crew always took part as King Neptune and his Queen and Court and I remembered being a South Sea Maiden on the Capetown Castle in 1966 in particular. I wrote home to my parents, saying: "I thought I had seen most things, but this was quite something. We had custard pies, sausage meat, cocoa, the lot. I had a large trifle thrown straight into my face and I was absolutely smothered with meringue. It was hilarious ... My hair had kipper, cocoa, sausage meat, and just plain dirt, all in it and so did the rest of me and my swimming costume and grass skirt." The passengers who volunteered to take part seemed to enjoy the experience too!
Two ladies in swimming costumes in the "Greasy Pole" competition aboard the Two ladies in swimming costumes in the "Greasy Pole" competition aboard the 'Empress of Canada' (P85862)