Cold, and Monkeys

Newsgroups: rec.arts.books
From: mrob@ctsnet.cts.com (Michael Robertson)
Subject: The BBC is not amused
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 1994 23:31:31 GMT
Lines: 14

I found this letter posted on the Electronic Telegraph today. It sounds like something Patrick O'Brian would include in one of his books.

SIR - While reading the Saturday Column by Russell Davies (Dec. 10), I was intrigued to see that the BBC had banned all mention of brass monkeys and frosty weather. Why? This is a very old naval term dating from the days of wooden men o' war.

Then, a triangular frame was fixed to the deck. This was known as a monkey. In this frame were stacked iron cannon balls, pyramid fashion. During very cold weather, the monkey, being made of brass, would contract sharply and dislodge some of the iron balls, giving rise to the saying "it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey".