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Here’s a nice little piece of news for old film buffs from the Beeb:

The British-built boat that co-starred with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in 1951 film The African Queen is to be restored and will sail again.

Owner Jim Hendricks, referring to the boat’s whistle, told the Key West Citizen it would mean “giving the Queen her voice back”.

Mr Hendricks’ late father bought the Queen in 1982 for $65,000 (£41,300).

The boat is in a state of disrepair after sitting in a dry dock next to the Key Largo Holiday Inn for 10 years.

Mr Hendricks, who runs the hotel’s gift shop, told the Citizen the boat had “several generations of engines built in England”.

“She was shipped to Africa and carried over land to Stanleyville where she worked on the Rukki River,” he added.

He said the boat, previously named the Livingstone, was acquired by director John Huston and Sam Spiegel in 1950 and renamed the African Queen.

The wooden boat was originally built in 1912 for the British East Africa Railway Company, according to The Times newspaper.

Neat.  And then?

After it is restored the boat will be used for cruises.

“I’m looking forward to seeing people’s reactions when that little steam engine starts up again and we hear that old ‘ker-chunk, ker-chunk’,” Mr Hendricks told The Times.

Me, too.  A Bogart look-alike doing hippo impersonations will, no doubt, cost a few bucks extra.

Actually, I like everything about this story: that the boat was originally British-built, that she was named the Livingstone, that she really did work African rivers in service to the Empire before the film people got to her.  All of it.

Incidentally, you may or may not be interested in reading the original novel by C.S. Forester on which the movie was based.  It’s quite exciting in spots, although without letting out any spoilers I will say that the movie significantly alters the ending of the story.

Self (glancing at photo):  So the younger gels went to see the big ice sculpture display at National Harbor, eh?

Mrs. R:  Yes.  They had a good time.

Self:  What was it? “Santa goes to Madagascar” or something?

Mrs. R: Yes.

Self:  Sheesh.  Sounds like me like like something Vegas people would dream up.  Only colder.

Mrs. R: Well, there was a creche, too.

Self: My golly! That certainly makes a difference!

Mrs. R:  Would you please cut it out?

Self:  Uh, oh.  Now it’s getting colder here, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Great Bridge near Norfolk, Virginia, fought in 1775.  In the battle, a Continental force under William Woodford, dug into heavily fortified positions,  routed a Tory army at point-blank range as it attempted to storm across a long causeway.  The decisive victory, called at the time the “Second Battle of Bunker Hill”,  led to the complete withdrawal of British power from the Virginia colony.

It is a curious thing, but in all my “studies” on the Revolutionary War, I simply do not recall reading anything about this battle.  Indeed, I can’t remember even ever having heard of it before.  This means one of two things: Either ol’ Robbo’s Alzheimer’s is kicking in with unusual vigor, or else I am a fraud as both a Virginian and as a student of history.

UPDATE:  In order to plug the hole in my knowledge, I’ve just nipped over to the devil’s website and picked up this:  The Revolution in Virginia 1775-1783 by John E. Selby.  I’ll let you know what I think after reading it.


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December 2011