Mutual impersonations


“After lights out we generally have some sort of a romp. Generally it is singing of songs, delicate or otherwise, sometimes it is ‘dressing up’. Members appear as ballet girls, decidedly abbreviated, or as ghosts of previous polar explorers and so on, but a very favourite form of amusement is mutual impersonations. I am inclined to be a little over anxious to please Sir Ernest at times and last night McIlroy took me off cleverly as follows:

“(Dancing about in a most effuse way.) ‘Yes sir, oh yes sir, certainly sir, sardines sir, yes sir, here they are (dashes to pantry and back) and bread sir, oh yes sir, bread sir, you shall have the night watchman’s bread sir (another dash to pantry and much grovelling, effusion and so on) and may I black your boots sir?’ and so on.

“I am in disfavour just now for stopping the supply of bread for the general run of the members at night, and given biscuits instead. Still all said and done, there is no smoke without fire and perhaps the broad hint will do me good. Better to be called a toad than a toady.”

— Thomas Orde-Lees

About Ernest Shackleton

Polar Explorer. Leader of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917.
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