It would be fair to say that the public perception of navy personnel centres around either women or drinking. In this ditty, I will explain that even the most hardened of drinkers can be bettered, and by who?
I was on HMNZS Waikato at the time, and after our ‘work up’ in Aussie, we proceeded on a three-month tour around Aussie into South East Asia with a return to NZ via Indonesia (and at the time, a transit inside the Great Barrier Reef, however circumstances had us detour, but that’s another story).
I was flatting with a mate who was also in the Navy, was a rating on Waikato as a Steward (similar to a waiter I guess) to me and my fellow Officers. When we embarked on this trip, for reasons that escape me at this time, we made a pact that we were to lay off the booze for this trip. All went well until we got into Port Klang which is the entry into Kuala Lumpur. After the normal processes in docking, we hosted a Cocktail Party on board (there are some beaut tales of these too) for local dignataries which I was to attend as host, and Harry in his normal duties. During this party, I befriended a local who was a business owner, and he and his wife offered me a lift into KL afterwards in their chauffeur driven limo.
I got Harry to get ready and we were driven in, shown some of the special places around town such as the King’s Palace (where they were dining the following night) and they set us down into the night life district so we could have some fun – as an aside, I had found out my girlfriend of the time was sleeping with someone else in my absence, so I was keen to make amends, but that’s another story yet again.
The place they directed us too was the place to be and outside on the ‘specials’ board was details of what was on and specials on drinks, and the one of notice was that a pitcher of beer was $14 Ringitt which equated to about $NZD3-4, and our reasoning was that the Cokes and orange juice we had gotten by the last month would be cheap as chips.
I bought the first round and fuck me if they didn’t cost $18MR for the two! I handed Harry his drink, and without saying anything, we decided together to hit the piss, and make up for lost time. We started on the pitchers and you would have thought we had been lost in a desert for months that speed in which we consumed, and soon fellow shipmates had joined us and we owned a corner of the club where locals and tourists alike (an Aussie lass to a real shine to me) joined in our party. As is with these carry ons, we started having sculling races with these pitchers (the equivalent of at least a couple of long necks here). When the local bar owner/manager came over, we thought we were going to be asked to leave, but instead he showed his appreciation of our skills and invited us to take part a drinking competition they held there regularly.
The boys nominated me and a another shipmate (name escapes me, he was a Greenie which is in the Weapons and Electrical branch) and sometime later we were stood on stage with a menagerie of other people made up of some locals and other tourists (including the Aussie bird who after as many pitchers as I had was looking quite desirable). We were then handed our glasses of beer, about the size of a 12 ounce or schooner and me and my Navy mate just looked at each other thinking this is a breeze; I remember saying to him I could snort it up my left nostril quicker than the others could drink it. That is until they passed us our straws!
When the ‘go’ was given I was amazed at how hard it was to drink through a straw quickly, at least I should say beer, and I really struggled. At one point my mate complained that his straw wasn’t working to which I yelled out the side of my mouth it was due to the fact he had his pressed against the base of the glass! I finished, and actually thought I had won only to find the winner was a five-foot nothing Malaysian girl (I say girl as she looked all of 18) who had not only finished but by the time I had finished (into second place) she had walked off the stage and received her prize!!!!
Talk about being put in your place…although I did cherish my prize, a locally made green-tea cup.
PS…some time later that night (actually the following morning), I was awoken by the Third-in-Command of Waikato as he found me where I fell asleep…no word of a lie, I was climbing down the ladder that lead from the deck just under the bridge to the Officers Quarters, but had my chin rested on the lip of the hatch opening I was gong down through…so was asleep standing up. He generally was very stern and disciplined, but even he admitted he was impressed and let me crawl into my pit without a further mention.