Think of an admiral. Dry, gilded, ponderous, radiating gravitas. Now think of an engineer. Earnest, precise, numerate, also radiating gravitas. Patrick Middleton was both, and is neither. In Admiral Clanky Entertains he does just that, telling the story of his many years in the Royal Navy, from Naval Cadet to Rear Admiral, with an iconoclastic wit and a bubbling broth of anecdotes. After surviving the idiosyncrasies of the Admiralty Interview Board he plunged into a Dartmouth not much changed since before World War II. With a couple of similarly rebellious colleagues, he fell into all sorts of trouble, frequently culminating in 'cuts', the beatings on which the discipline of the time seemed to depend. He survived the regime, and went off to sea to learn the practicalities of his new profession. Later he specialised in engineering, got married and became a watchkeeping engineer in an old but much loved cruiser. This appointment, which included a world cruise, was a rich fund for the stories with which this book sparkles. His time in submarines opened up a whole new sub-culture, and a lot of new tales to go with it.
From the steaming heat of the waters round Indonesia to the icy deeps off the North Soviet coast, we live with him the extraordinary intimacy of life underwater. Patrick went on to comparative greatness, ending his career as Chief Engineer of the Fleet. Not bad for a lad who had always had a cynical view of authority and management. His eye for a distinctive image, his ear for a good 'dit', his love for a good woman and his obvious joy in life's peculiarities last to the end of this splendid memoir. Read, laugh, admire, enjoy.