Roger Paine,
Clear Lower Deck:
A Collection of My Naval Yarns

(Fireship, 2012)

Roger Paine served a fair time in the Royal Navy, joining the British fleet at age 16 and rising to the rank of commander before his 26-year tour of duty came to an end. During those years, he served on many a ship in many a far location and with a great many interesting shipmates.

He shares some of the stories he's collected over those years in Clear Lower Deck, a slim volume from Fireship Press.

Paine has an amused, conversational tone as he tells his tales. Not side-splitting funny, they are still entertaining and occasionally worth a few chuckles. He sprinkles among his own experiences a few tidbits from the rich history of the British navy, several drawn from the Age of Sail and some related to the strict tradition of naval beverages.

Read Clear Lower Deck and you'll learn about monkeys and cockatiels, taxi cabs and golf games, ice cubes, the Cold War and Christmas, as well as the peculiarities of royalty and foreign dignitaries. Paine even tells a story or two about his life after coming home from the sea; his years of service surely had an impact on his time ashore.

Anyone who's served in a navy, British or otherwise, will probably share a knowing grin with Paine over the stories he tells. If you've never gone to sea, this is a fascinating, well-written glimpse at shipboard life.

book review by
Tom Knapp

2 March 2013

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