Simpson's New Clothes
by Liv

Simpson is ticked off he didn't pass his examination for lieutenant.
Out of want to fulfil a fantasy of being noble and important, he
sneaks into Pellew's room, rummages through his wardrobe, and begins
trying on his uniform. He puts on Pellew's breeches and his jacket,
he ties his neck tie around his own neck, pops on his cocked hat with
the gold trimming, and admires his reflection in the full length
mirror, assuming elaborate poses. He places his right hand on his hip
with his right foot forward, and gestures with his other hand as if
engaging in witty repartee with an imaginary listener.

Suddenly, the door of Pellew's cabin flies open and there is
Lieutenant Bracegirdle, looking strangely at him.

"What the DEVIL are you doing, Simpson?" Bracegirdle demands.

Just as he says this, the figure of Kennedy is seen walking across
the corridor, with his head engrossed in a book.

Simpson blames Kennedy.

"It was HIM!!" Simpson cries, raising an accusing finger at
Kennedy. "He's the one that dared me to come in here and try on the
Captain's uniform lest I should be at the mercy of his inquisition!!"

Kennedy looks up from his book and says pointedly "It's got nothing
to do with me, Simpson. You got yourself into your own mess" and
walks away briskly, leaving Simpson looking stupid.

Bracegirdle also doesn't believe Simpson, and says plainly "Alright
Simpson, you better come along with me to Pellew's office."

*******

Several Senior Officers are leaning outside Pellew's office, trying
desperately to eavesdrop on the conversation that is taking place
within. Kennedy is one of them.

"What do you think will happen to him?" whispers Hether.

Kennedy, who is leaning casually against the door way with his arms
crossed, replies "Don't know, hard to say. The last officer that got
caught with ransacking the Captain's uniforms had to walk naked
through the gauntlet."

Hether contemplates the image with horror.

Then Cleaveland says "Maybe they'll sack the bastard."

Just as he says this, Hornblower walks past, minding his own
business. Kennedy gestures him to stop and join the group of
eavesdroppers. Hornblower wants none of it, but Kennedy insists, so
Hornblower reluctantly joins in. Then curiosity gets the better of
him and he presses his ear against the door.

Inside the room, Simpson is sitting upright and attentive like a
child in a classroom, his bright blue eyes shining innocently at
Pellew. Pellew doesn't feel like screaming today and is more curious
to know what kind of grown man would play dress-ups. He paces back
and forth, all the while keeping a fixed eye on Simpson.

"Did you try on my breeches?" Pellew asks curtly.

"Oh, indeed I did" comes Simpson's swift reply.

"And my boots?"

"Yes."

"And" here Pellew hesitates "And...my under-garments too?"

"Yeees" oozes Simpson, like a child who has just been asked if he
wants fairy floss.

Pellew stops pacing back and forth and leans both hands on the desk
that is separating himself and Simpson.

"Why?" Pellew asks.

"Because Sir, I wanted to know what it was like to be you. To be a
man of such nobility and strength. I felt that if I tried on the
uniform I would know how it feels to be that man."

"And what about my under-garments?"

Simpson turns on the charm: "Your under-garments are the most
comfortable thing I have worn in a long time, Sir. Sometimes I go for
DAYS without wearing any underpants to prevent the chaffing."

Pellew squints for a brief moment. He really didn't need to know that.

After this bizarre inquisition is over, Pellew decides to release
Simpson with a very stern warning. As Simpson rises to take his
leave, he bows slightly with his hat under his arm and says "aye aye
Sir, thank you Sir" and opens the door. The officers who have been
eavesdropping instantly recoil and pretend they are studying
something very important in the ship's framework. Simpson pauses and
regards them for a moment as he realises they have been eavesdropping.

Then Simpson puffs out his chest even further like a proud cockatoo
as he struts pass them and down the long corridor, showing off that
no punishment was issued to him. The officers observe his proud walk
with spite.

"There goes the biggest clothes horse in His Majesty's Navy. Too bad
there is no master to whip him" says Kennedy with dismay.

*****

After this bizarre incident, Pellew orders Bracegirdle to organise a
huge bonfire to burn all the clothes Simpson tried on.

"What about your breeches, Sir?" asks Bracegirdle.

"The breeches included, Mr Bracegirdle, leave nothing to chance"
replies Pellew.

"And your erm undergarments, Sir?"

"Especially the undergarments" is Pellew's foreboding reply.

So the bonfire goes ahead but Bracegirdle pretends to the crew it's
for something else, so they won't become disorderly with hysterics.

After the bonfire, Pellew visits the hold to see if there are any
spare Captain's uniforms, and realises there are none. Yet there is
NO WAY he is wearing a Lieutenant's uniform until a new Captain's
uniform is made up for him NO WAY!! There is only one choice.

******

"For the next three weeks, we will have CASUAL CLOTHES DAYS on board
the Indy!" announces Pellew.

"Yay!" comes the cry of approval. Everyone loves it when it's casual
clothes day.

"The only rule is that you refrain from wearing t-shirts with
profanity written on them. Apart from that you can wear anything you
like."

"Yay!"

"No uniforms for three weeks!"

"No uniforms for three weeks!!"

The next day, everyone turns up on the Indy wearing their favourite
casual gear. Eccelston is wearing a flannel shirt with rolled up
sleeves, King-Gee shorts he bought from Lowes, and big boots with
scrunched down grey socks like the ones plumbers wear. In fact, all
in all, he looks like a plumber.

Simpson is wearing a Metallica singlet top, faded jeans and thongs.
Since it's casual clothes day, he also takes the liberty of walking
around with a cigarette in one hand and a VB bottle in the other.

Hornblower is decked out in his Adidas tracksuit, with a tight-
fitting Bonds top and his favourite pair of cross-trainers.

Kennedy is wearing corduroy pants and his Sun-shine Goldcoast t-shirt
that he bought on his holiday to Brisbane three years before.

Clayton is wearing a t-shirt supporting breast-cancer research,
before sniggers from his crew mates forces him to abandon his show of
support for women's causes and wear clothes the crew are more
accustomed to seeing him in, including a grey polo-necked sweater,
well-fitting blue jeans, and hiking boots.

Captain Pellew is wearing a sleek, black, polo-necked sweater, a good
pair of tailored camel trousers, and a pair of size 9 black shoes. He
is also wearing expensive cologne.

The only ones not officially wearing casual clothes are Styles,
Matthews, Finch and Oldroyd, since they have been wearing exactly the
same outfit every day of their lives ever since they joined the Navy.

************

Eccelston is scrutinising his reflection in the window. Simpson walks
past.

"Simpson" says Eccelston while looking sideways at himself, "do these
shorts make my butt look big?"

Simpson squeezes his chin as he considers the question.

"No" Simpson says finally. "None that I can see."

"You think?" iterates Eccelston.

"No" Simpson says again. "You have a fine figure Sir."

But Eccelston feels insecure. "See?" he shows Simpson, sandwiching a
thumb between his huge pot-belly and his pants "there's room there."

"Indeed" lies Simpson.

"Oh let's face it, I really ought to lose some weight."

"And be like Mr Kennedy?!"

"Do you think he's too skinny?"

"Really too skinny" bitches Simpson. "He's probably bulimic."

"Hornblower doesn't think so."

"Who cares what Hornblower thinks."

"If we reduced our rations like it says in the weight-watchers guide,
we'd all be starving peasants! Simpson, how do you manage to stay so
thin?"

"I have a fast metabolism just good genes, I suppose. My mother was
a model and my father was an Olympic boxing champion."

"Oh really?" says Eccelston. "Did he ever box for Oxford or
Cambridge?"

"No, but in his spare time he used to kill for the CIA."

Eccelston regards himself some more, and then slowly begins to admire
himself, until a huge grin of pride stretches across his face. "Yes,
I suppose you're right, Mr Simpson, I suppose you're right, a man
needs a body built like a tower to elevate him above the rest."

*********

Mr Kennedy turns up to work with a Kylie Minogue T-shirt.

"It's from her last Intimate and Live Australian Tour" explains
Kennedy to Hornblower, who is smitten by the blonde image on the t-
shirt smiling seductively at him.

"Barbara Streisand does it for me" interjects Styles. "I absolutely
loved her in Funny Face."

"What about you, Horatio?" asks Kennedy, but Horatio is too shy to
say who his ultimate crush is.

"Oh c'mon, tell us Sir" begs Oldroyd.

Hornblower regards the men with suspicion, then mumbles his
response: "Julie Andrews."

Styles' eyes grow wide with excitement. "Julie? Julie Andrews?!!!"
and the entire gathering emit pearls of laughter with tears streaming
down their faces. Fancy that! Hornblower having a "thing" for Ms
Julie Andrews! A woman more than twice his age!

"Alright that's enough!" snaps Hornblower. "About your work now."
But Styles persists: "Oh she was a right old lady in Mary Poppins"
and he starts singing the first verse of the Chimney Sweep song:

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when
I shake 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that's lucky too

 

Hornblower gives in to the spirit of the humor and says "actually
Styles, I loved her the moment she sang
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. "

"Supercalifragilisticexpiali-what?" quizzes Styles.

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" repeats Kennedy, knowing full
well what this means.

"Yes" says Hornblower, and he sings:

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Because I was afraid to speak
When I was just a lad
My father gave me nose a tweak
And told me I was bad
But then one day I learned a word
That saved me aching nose
The biggest word I ever heard
And this is how it goes:

Oh, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Even though the sound of it
Is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough
You'll always sound precocious
Supercalifragilisticexpiali-

 

"MR HORNBLOWER!!" comes a stern shout from the poopdeck.

"Sir!!" Hornblower turns and sees Pellew standing bow-legged and
looking very serious.

"The Indefatigable is neither the time nor the place for you or your
side-show men to be practicing your Madame Butterfly performance
skills!!"

"Aye aye Sir!!"

As the men disperse to go about their work, Kennedy confides to his
companion "I LOVE Madame Butterfly."

***********

Clayton is sitting below decks sipping a cup of coffee and reading a
copy of the Kingston Chronicle. With each story of death, seduction,
conviction and corruption, he mutters "poor devils" and turns the
page to read the next story.

Suddenly, something in the newspaper catches his eye; he leaps out of
his seat and runs onto the poop deck in a frenzy. He comes to the
first living soul he sees: Mr Bowles.

"Look at THIS!!" says Clayton, waving the newspaper madly in front of
Mr Bowles' face.

Mr Bowles manages to get a grip on the moving object and inspects it
closely. His jaw drops in amazement: "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" he
says, "ROCKY IV IS ON!! Tell Mr Cleaveland to PASS THE WORD!!"

So Mr Cleaveland goes round the ship shouting "Rocky IV is on! Rocky
IV is on!" He bursts into the murkiest part of the hold where Simpson
and Archie are alone together and repeats "Rocky IV is on!!"

Simpson turns back to Archie: "I'll deal with you LATER" he says
menacingly, and hurries off to make popcorn, because everyone knows
Simpson's popcorn is the best.

The frenzied gathering of Rocky fans ("yes I include myself" says
Pellew to the Admiral as his excuse for getting out of a dull
meeting) huddle into the Captain's lounge suite where a huge 132cm
colour television screen is set up. Simpson passes the popcorn round
("Salt, anyone?" he offers, to which Chadd says "yes, please" and
nearly finishes the bottle.)

For the next two hours the men sit glued to the TV set, and have a
very male-bonding experience. By the end of the film Hornblower is in
tears he always cries when he watches that movie because it is so
much like his own experience of being an outsider.

Then men disperse after watching the film no need to analyse it to
death and Archie offers Hornblower a handkerchief.

********

The day finally comes when Pellew gets reissued with his uniform and
everything is back to normal. Almost. The French Monarchists have
becomes allies with Britian; Clayton, Simpson, Bunting, Hunter,
Finch, Keane, Eccelston and Chadd are dead, Hether and Cleaveland
disappear without a trace, and Hornblower has fallen in love with a
French Republican. "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean"
meditates Pellew, and decides to row all the way to Muzillac himself.