HLRGazette Archives

Relive some of our best stories.

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Texas Two Step

E-mail Print PDF
He named his yacht Bob
The Gazette Staff
BP CEO Tony Hayward took a break recently from the mess in the Gulf to attend a yacht race held annually around the Isle of Wight in southern England. This seems as good a way as any to clear one's head and focus for a few hours on something pleasurable.
Besides, he had a boat in the race. But here's the thing: The name of his yacht is Bob.
I realize that the boat (ship?) may have been named for a sentimental reason - perhaps a beloved father, brother or dog. But when I think of a yacht, a graceful, tall-masted boat (ship?) comes to mind. And aren't boats (ships) referred to in the third person as "she?"
I think if I became the owner of a yacht (highly unlikely!) I'd be inclined to give it a female name, say Victoria or The Lady Jane, or a name with bravado, for example, Crusader, or Intrepid.
I realize large English ships tend to be named for their queens and princesses just as our military names our ships for presidents, generals and admirals, although not exclusively.
But yachts are usually pretty boats (ships?). There is nothing wrong with the name Bob. It just seems, well, unimpressive for a proud boat (ship?).
It makes me think of the English police constables commonly known as "bobbies." They got their moniker because the creator of the London Police Force was Sir Robert Peel - hence the term "bobbies."
The name Bob has another association for me. I grew up in a Scottish household and a common term in Britain is "and Bob's your uncle." It's generally used at the conclusion of a set of simple instructions, and has the same meaning as "and there you have it" or "You're all set."
There are several theories about its origin, however, the most commonly accepted is that it refers to Lord Frederick Roberts (1832-1914) one of the most successful commanders of the Victorian era. He fought throughout Asia and his finest hour was the lifting of the siege of Kandahar in 1878 (All old battles are new again,) He marched a force of 10,000 men over 300 miles from Kabul, waged battle and lifted the siege.
His men referred to him as "Uncle Bob" and "Bob's your uncle" became a term used by Robert's men to boost confidence in the rank and imply that all would be well.
It's a pity that no one can figure out how to plug the hole in the Gulf and, with great relief say, "Bob's your uncle."