By and Large

One of the things that has struck me watching the US primaries and caucuses is the way the word ‘republican’ has different connotations on either side of the Atlantic.

If you’re a US Republican with a capital R, it means that you are rather conservative, religious and believe in traditional values (click the graphic), whereas in the UK, being a republican with a lower case R marks you as a lefty liberal rebel.

This sprang to mind because in the same week that US politics is in the news, so is the campaign to buy the queen a new royal yacht. In their different ways, both stories rattled my own republican sensibilities, but the yacht in particular.

The idea was floated by some obscure member of the government last weekend, which was apt, so that his more senior members at the decision-making end of the cabinet table could test the reaction to this £60 million vanity project. And as there was no rioting on the streets, Cameron went public with his support.

By this time, the cost had risen to £80 million, which doesn’t bode well should it get the go ahead, but the PM was at pains to say that this would be met by private subscription and sponsorship with his bagman lining up with a cheque for £5 million in his hand.

The whole idea seems ludicrous to me for all sorts of reasons, but it set me thinking about who might be appropriate sponsors for the project.

I suppose any corporate body might subsidise the main mast so they could run a flag up it to see who salutes, and companies like Admiral Insurance and the Compass Group came to mind, so you can see that my comic creativity really wasn’t up to it.

However, that brings me to the title of this post. While looking for inspiration, I discovered that the phrase ‘by and large’, one that is used rather a lot, is nautical in origin.

It was used to indicate a ship rigged for all possible situations where by means into the wind, while large means with the wind, as in “the ship handles well both by and large“.

So the new royal yacht idea hasn’t been a complete waste of time.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • rhymeswithplague 21st January 2012

    Well, the origin of the phrase “by and large” was a new one on me. Thanks for my daily dose of knowledge.

    At 5 million pounds a pop, all Her Royal Seagoing Majesty needs is 16 well-heeled donors to come up those 80 million pounds, which shouldn’t be difficult to find in a country as populous as yours. Then all the little people who could give only a quid here and a shilling there don’t have to be bothered by David Cameron and his friends in Parliament. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  • rhymeswithplague 21st January 2012

    …come up with those 80 million pounds….

  • Trevor Rowley 21st January 2012

    What an advert for any nation. When the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored in the bay, the locals came out in their thousands to admire her (and undoubtedly thought that the nation she represented must be something rather special). See what they think when HRH and a couple of big lads lugging the cases turn up on the 11-45 Ryanair flight from Luton (paper plates, serviettes and spam butties optional).

    While we’re on the theme of cost cutting, the Americans could perhaps forfeit Air Force One and get Wilbur and Orville to put something together for them which might cost a darn sight less. Certainly, it would look a lot less impressive (all that string and plywood) as it floated in precariously across the horizon but think of all the dollars that they would have saved.

    In the meantime, us Brits can think of what we do next instead of a monarchy. Do we ask HRH Dennis Skinner to get himself a bike to go up and pacify the Scot Nats or should we see if his consort, the lovely Diane Abbot, has the weekend free (from the usual “getting her knickers in a twist”) to go over the Channel from Dover and sort out that horrible little frog in gay Paris?

  • Mr Parrot 23rd January 2012

    As with all projects like this, the £80 million represents the capital cost of the idea, ie building the yacht. What it foesn’t take account of is the ongoing running costs, maintenance, paying the crew etc.

    The former royal yacht was crewed by the Royal Navy which hasn’t enough ships to patrol the local boating lake, let alone our territorial waters and is making sailors redundant.

    The argument goes that the royal yacht is a tremendous asset to UK plc, but we seem to have managed without one since 1997.

    According to the media, the queen really misses her yacht and that building her one would be a great way to say thank you for enduring 60 years of pampered luxury. That raises several points:

    1. It cannot possibly be built in time for the jubilee, or indeed any time soon.

    2. The queen is one of the richest women in the world and if she really missed her yacht, she could have easily afforded to buy one.

    3. She is 85 years old, so realistically, how much use would she get out of it?

  • rhymeswithplague 23rd January 2012

    Spoilsport. Give Lizzie her toy. It’s the least you can do. Consider it her consolation prize for having had to endure the exploits and shenanigans of Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward. Oh, and Philip, of course.

    (I hope you know I’m only kidding.)

  • Mr Parrot 23rd January 2012

    I was rather hoping you weren’t!

  • Trevor Rowley 23rd January 2012

    It was proposed that any new Royal Yacht would also be a floating university. This would undoubtedly attract a lucrative income from the high rate of fees being charged. In addition, the old Royal Yacht was also used as a conference facility when HRH wasn’t “at home”. Both sensible ways of paying your way. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for hiring out Dennis Skinner’s push bike for the weekend.

    PS Diane Abbott was letting all of this pass her by as she was having a lie-in when we rang her on Sunday morning.

  • Jay from The Depp Effect 24th January 2012

    I’m pretty sure the cost wouldn’t end at £80m, so I have to ask how we justify the cost in this present economic climate. However, I rather like the idea of Brenda having a yacht to go off impressing people with. Maybe we can ask her for a contribution?

    Just tell her that when she’s interviewing candidates for the post of Captain, if someone called Francesco Schettino comes along, it might be a good idea to give him a miss.


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