Black Tot Day
Capital & Conflict – brought to you by Fortune & Freedom
CHEDDAR, SOMERSET – We must end the week on a sombre note. For tomorrow is a grave day indeed…
It was in 1740 when the Royal Navy first formalised a daily rum ration for sailors aboard Her Majesty’s ships – what would become fondly known as “the tot”.
In a fitting smile of fate, Rule Britannia was written and set to music the same year. Fuelled by a daily 70ml measure of “Nelson’s Blood” in the tot, the Royal Navy would go on to conquer the world’s oceans and achieve maritime glory at such scale as had never been seen before – and which may never be seen again.
The tot – and the victories – would continue for over two centuries. But 31 July 1970 marked Black Tot Day.
Despite the best efforts of the noble James Wellbeloved MP – forever looking out for the lower ranks – who argued fervently against it in the Commons, the Admiralty Board had made its decision: the tot had to go.
Fifty-one years tomorrow, the final tot was served. Black armbands were worn aboard ship. Tots were ceremoniously buried at sea. And at one Navy training camp, the tot was granted the send-off it had earned – a full funeral procession with piper and drums.
The Admiralty Board had its reasons. Namely, a fear of drunken sailors making an error when using heavy machinery and ever-increasing firepower. Though when one considers the case of the Royal New Zealand Navy, which continued on with the tot until 1990 without major incident, I question if it was necessary at all.
The dismantling of Britain’s influence abroad was of course well underway by 1970, but the ending of such a strong naval tradition certainly didn’t make it any better. Black Tot Day was a symbol of British decline – and the grim decade that was to come.
Of all the awful events and grim spectacles the 70s would bring about – the end of the gold standard, economies driven into stagnation by their governments, high unemployment and higher inflation, ABBA, flared jeans – I wonder if it was Black Tot Day that started it all off…
It certainly must have been a major blow to the rum industry to have such a continuous buyer exit the market. The mind boggles at how rum was actually consumed for the period the tot persisted – a large measure of rum for every sailor (except officers and those abstaining) every day, on every ship, for 230 years.
All added together, the Royal Navy must have consumed a veritable ocean of rum over the period. Just the logistics of acquiring it all must have been an immense feat. Further to what I said yesterday about how regular pension contributions can move markets, regular rum consumption can move fathoms of spirit.
That’s all from me for this week. If you can get your hands on some rum tomorrow, be sure to raise a tot and pay tribute to a tradition that made Britain truly Great.
Wishing you a good weekend,
Editor, Capital & Conflict
PS I call it the “Shamrock Trade”.
There are certain days every month which are just a bit “luckier” for investors in markets than others.
Recurring dates when the market just seems to get a boost from somewhere. Invest only on those days – and “lady luck” may be on your side…
Of course, it’s not actually luck that causes this phenomenon. It’s due to a very specific group of investors boosting the market on certain days each month – something they’ve been doing for decades now.
There’s no conspiracy taking place here – it’s not illegal, or a deliberate attempt to rig the market. It’s just due to a certain quirk in the US economy over the pond.
This all takes place in plain sight, it’s just rarely acknowledged, and even less frequently acted upon. But one of my colleagues has got his hands on the full calendar, with ever “lucky” date sketched out on it. Buy the market on just those days… and you might feel lucky indeed. Click here to find out more.
PPS Be sure to catch the latest Fortune & Freedom podcast with Nickolai Hubble and Nigel Farage here.