14 April 2003
(Or possibly - Aaaarrruughgh!!! The pronunciation isn't sufficiently clarified in the book)
Gather closer my young sea pups, for herein lies a terrible tale. Deceit and plunder; gold, rubies and heartbreak. The bones of dead men never lie, as Peg-knee Mike used to say before he fell to his watery death. Aaarrrr. Aaargggugh. Arck.
I'm sorry, I can feel the phlegm rising in my throat. My aaarrrring was never that good at the best of times, despite all those hours of practice on the deck; and my yo-ho-hoing positively stinks. Still, my red polka-dotted head-kerchief is always freshly ironed and my stolen gold earrings buffed and polished. On the deck of the Foam Stallion at daybreak, I look every inch the plundering hoardette. And my hot rum toddies are bitching.
We registered the Foam Stallion in the High Seas Book of Theft, Buggery and Piracy before she'd even tasted the waves. Big Sal always made sure that we did things by the book. She'd described the hideous embarrassment of being interrupted in the middle of a plank walk. Some spoilt duke, his meaty rump prodded by the cutlasses of the crew, was about to have tea with Uncle Shark, when a suited type from the High Seas Commission called a halt to the proceedings. Big Sal hadn't registered her additional crew members that quarter, and was subsequently fined thirty gold doubloons. All of this in front of the boys, the sea dogs.
That was the end of her career on that ship, and Big Sal nearly gave up the ocean going life for one of nursery nursing. But the scent of the salty brine and the sound of seagulls screaming was too much to hold away from, and within six months she'd placed the advert and scoured the seedy dives of Portsmouth, Brighton and Falmouth and assembled her new boys. Us.
Our initial missions were primarily gold-oriented, with a minor focus on rubies, diamonds, sapphires, and cutlery (silver). There are more ocean-going vessels bearing such goods than one might imagine, nearly all holding insurance premiums against pirates. On one of our early missions Dorset Jo was asked, by one of the men he'd tied up, to please find and sign the policy that they'd taken out. Big Sal has explained it to us - without piracy there'd be no insurers, and without insurers there'd be no goods vessels. So we all supported each other. I definitely think that we got the best deal; insurance shanties are nothing to write home about.
She keeps us well-trained too. The Foam Stallion's drunken rendition of "Thirty Men on a Dead Man's Chest", complete with co-ordinated high kicks and spittings is "one of the United Kingdom's , if not the sea-faring world's, most impressive displays of hedonism" (Jolly Roger, 19 March 2003, pp17). The requisite two-thirds of the crew have contracted scurvy at some stage or another on our roamings. I've already mentioned the success of my rum beverages.
Listening back to what I've said, I must apologise - there isn't really that much deceit or heartbreak to be told. Some of the buxom wenches that we've brought aboard have grown rather more attached to the crew than they ought; a pirate's life is not compatible with monogamy, and it's mostly ended in tears. I was rather upset that Big Sal wouldn't allow me time off to attend the "Pirate Vs Ninja" conference at the ICA in London. - my argument being that pirates are far better as we have bawdy songs, dances and fabulous jewellery - but I've since submitted some articles on this matter to various journals, and will hopefully soon be published. But practice makes perfect, and my vocal speech skills can always be bettered. My long-winded memories and patronising jokes to small children ("Tell us about the time you were a pirate, Unkie George!") do need work. I'm enormously happy and satisfied in my work, and it's a good life if you don't weaken.
So, from the top. This time a brief interlude into the island on the Indo-China sea with the silver crabs and belly-dancing ladyboys.