Saturday, August 09, 2008


The first Airfix kit I ever had was the HMS Cossack. She bravely defended the perilous straits between the two beds in my room. She also left me with an ineradicable fascination with the word 'Cossack' - not what it means, I have always vaguely had an impression of fierce men in fur hats, but how it sounds - the central, serpentine hiss and the parenthetical 'k'. Now, I discover, the fierce men are deeply involved in our latest killing people scheme. The Guardian defines Cossacks as 'descendants of runaway serfs and outlaws' Wikipedia seems to disagree. The word itself comes to us from French, Polish, Ukrainian and Turkish. I feel innocence has been lost. Once Cossack was a plucky British destroyer, now it's just some bad tempered alpha males with droopy moustaches. I have considered joining the HMS Cossack Association in a desperate attempt to shore up what remains of my childhood dreams, but it probably wouldn't work.


  1. The shipyard where the Cossack was built finally slid beneath the waves recently, its corpse falling prey to property developers. This in a decade when orders for new ships are at their highest ever.

  2. I built the Airfix HMS Cossack too! But it wasn't my first Airfix model (after all, I am a little older than you). It was, however, just a bad as all my previous efforts i.e. almost as much glue (did they call it cement?) as grey plastic.

  3. Some Cossacks were interviewed by Jonathan Dimbelby I believe. Tough hombres in camouflage gear who drank a lot and sang plangent patriotic songs around the fire. I recall that the mounted cavalry unit that fought with the Germans was led by a Don Cossack chap with a wooden leg. I preferred model submarines, which you wound the propeller of, to go tearing round the bath.

  4. Melodies bring memories
    That linger in my heart
    Make me think of Georgia
    Why did we ever part?
    Some sweet day when blossoms fall
    And all the world's a song
    I'll go back to Georgia
    'Cause that's where I belong.
    Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through
    Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
    Georgia, Georgia, a song of you
    Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.
    Other arms reach out to me
    Other eyes smile tenderly
    Still in peaceful dreams I see
    The road leads back to you.
    Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find
    Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.
    Cossack drinking song, circa 2008