29 JANUARY 1960, Page 5

Loss of.Face.

Stay close to your desks and never go to sea, And i5 yooall maybe rulers of the Queen'sNavee le —but not inevitably recognisable as such, even et _ by officers of flag rank. Or so it would appear from g' f the recent experience of Lord Carrington :It who. having 'stayed close to his undistinguished a. desk and, kept his. face out of the papers all the It) Way fromilarliamentary Secretary at Ag. and Fish. to First Lord at the Admiralty, found himself an unacknowledged and peripheral figure, trying in vain to get into the picture, as a pair of rear- admirals and assorted lesser officers danced mistaken attendance at Portsmouth on his private secretary. Admiralty spokesmen produced almost as many excuses, apologies, explanations and flat denials as there are national newspapers: it was because both civilians had been wearing the same Admiralty 'uniform' of reefer and yachting cap; it was a misunderstanding of the difference be- tween the protocol of leaving ship for boat (senior officer leaves last) and ship for shore (senior officer first); it ,hadn't happened, at all. Whatever hap- pened, the Admiralty ought to make more effort to save its First Lord's face, by making it more familiar to the Fleet. A pin-up picture over every rating's hammock Would do the trick.