It rained cats and dogs last night again and the water came down the hatchway and flooded out some of the cabins. There is something almost uncanny in the regularity of the weather – dull mornings – clear afternoons – cloudless hazy sky in the evening with distant lightening in East – then clouds over and rains about midnight. Have seen no birds for days.
[Note (25 May 2017) – dating sequence now corrected between 22 May 1917 to 26 May 1917]
Yesterday 19th was my 33rd birthday, but I forgot about it, until Warwick produced a present from you. Many thanks. Wish we were following Ithobal’s course and were hugging the coast, instead of mid-ocean.
Last night a thunderstorm broke with a deluge. I crawled into various places on deck trying to sleep and finally curled up on the ammunition boxes. At about 4 a.m. the aches and pains became unendurable and I crawled below. Morning dull again, but dull here implied the possibility of being sunburnt through your shirt.
Rudely awakened at midnight by a downpour of warm rain. I have for the third time en voyage had my shaving mug stolen and am getting wild about it. The canteen has almost run out of cigarettes. I really prefer a pipe, but fall a prey to their handiness. I have also lost my penknife and am surprised to find to how many uses I have been putting its single small blunt blade. As the Presbyterian is beginning to stream out of me (as a little girl put it) I must now adjourn to the deck. The Neptune’s Court was screamingly funny. Officers and men in fearsome get-ups, Neptune, mermaids, and all sorts of monstrosities before whom representatives of all ranks were tried, lathered with white-wash, shaved with a huge wooden razor and hurled backwards into the bath. Even the O.C. of the ship took his turn. There were fiendish dental and surgical operations productive of large bones, strings of sausages and a doll. Towards the finish it degenerated into a rough house wherein the dunked dunked the dunkers, and unfortunately some sort of a row occurred amongst the officers which rather put a damper on the conclusion.
[Note – photographs of “Neptune’s Court” can be found at p.25 of the SS Corinthic ship’s magazine, Tiki Talk]
Fired the gun – 3 shots – the bluejacket seemed to be a good shot and actually hit the target (a small cask) at 1000 yards. The other bluejacket is down with the fashionable illness for this ship – appendicitis. He is a decent chap and we hope he won’t follow the Maori officer. The shock of the gun was not so severe on the ears as our own field gun, though much heavier. We got limejuice and cold meat for dinner today and found it a vast improvement. At night all is in darkness and it is curious to pick one’s way about the decks strewn with men avoiding collisions by help of glowing cigarettes.
Slept on deck on a big coil of rope with a few old bolsters for mattress; sky overcast and heat oppressive. Have seen numbers of flying fish, mostly about the size of a herring – the young ones go in shoals and the bigger ones singly. They seldom cover more than (say) 20 yards in the air and do not rise more than a foot or so above the surface. The gun crew is to fire practice shots tomorrow, so if this record breaks off abruptly you will know that we have all been blown up. Have just had a shower and am sitting quite naked near porthole yet quite warm. We have all been issued with big lumps of chocolate in lieu of handing us the odd shilling still owing to us out of canteen profits. You would gape at the amount some of the chaps spend on sweets, drinks, tinned fruit and so forth.
Now allowed to sleep on deck. The other ships are very ugly-looking customers, being painted black with black funnels (except one which has a hideous light-blue one). One carries Chinese coolies and another has black labourers aboard. We still get roasting hot dinners in the middle of the day with soup piping hot and am getting fed up with it. One would expect to get lime juice in this weather. Very few birds have been following us of late; some black gulls and an occasional albatross. One example of the carelessness of the average N.Z. youth is in this cabin; after breaking the glass of his (presentation) watch for the third time he threw the watch over-board; a drastic remedy! The paper “Tiki Talk” is not to be published until we reach London.