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Tue, Nov. 30th, 2004, 12:29 am
O, Bitter Victory!

Busy, busy, busy! I’ve been run off my feet today. The day started with a fun-packed breakfast in the boat's dining room. Some of the lads had got hold of a crate full of practical jokes and I nearly split my sides with all the whoopee cushions, frothing sugar and teaspoons-with-a-hole that were doing the rounds. Honestly, sometimes I think my crew are completely bonkers!

Then I had an energetic morning arranging and rearranging my shell collection. I've got nine shells right now and I'm hoping to find a few more soon. My favourite shell is a spiral one with little red flecks on the sides.

After lunch (two kinds of sausage, beef and pork) I sat up on the deck making a clay sculpture. I'm working on a piece that I call 'Inevitability' - rather than create something literal, I wanted to explore the concept through abstract representation. What I'm making is a life-sized replica of a puppy standing on his hind legs and playing golf, which I'm sure you'll agree provides a new angle on fate and predestination. Just as I was carving the tartan pattern into his golf hat, one of the lads shouted something:

"Pirate Captain! Come and look! There's something in the water!", said the pirate with long legs. I ran over.

Sure enough, there was something large and grey bobbing just off the boat, on what we nautical types call "the left hand side". At first I thought it might be a whale, but it didn't seem to have a tail or a blowhole.

"Get me a big pole, I'm going to poke it," I said, ever the man of action.

Two minutes later, I was jabbing away at the grey mass, but it didn't do anything interesting like most of the things that I poke. If it had been alive once, it was definitely dead now. With a hefty shove, I felt the pole sink into something on its flank... there was a loud bursting sound and a rush of foul-smelling air bubbled to the surface. Slowly the grey, leathery mass shifted around and spun over, revealing itself to be a dead elephant with a hole poked in its side by my pole. Its floppy dead trunk slopped about in the water and although long-dead, it looked thoroughly cheesed off. It also had small ears, so it was Asian - I know this stuff since the adventure where we traded ivory and made a packet.

"An elephant? What is up with that?," I asked the pirate with a scarf.

He shrugged. "We're thousands of miles from land," he replied, "and millions of miles from India."

Moments later, we saw a couple of dead giraffes floating nearby, their long necks sticking up like little masts. Or patterned flagpoles, whichever is more poetic. A couple of bloated horses followed, along with a poodle wearing a neck ruff. Pretty soon the pirate boat was surrounded by drowned creatures and bits of smashed wood.

"Shipwreck," I realised, "The sad loss of yet another circus boat. When will such horrors end?"

My theory was confirmed when a troop of dead clowns floated past, their big shoes trapped in the doors of a collapsing car. Our grief at this senseless waste of creature and clown life was worsened when we realised that there wasn't much worth looting in the wreckage. If I'd been into taxidermy, then fine, but since spending a night in Prague Natural History Museum I've had nightmares about stuffed animals. However, searching through the wreckage, we found something altogether more surprising... it was a living fat child!

Sat plum in the middle of a large piece of wood was a chubby kid in dungarees, licking his chops, gnawing on a big bone and looking adorable. We shouted to him and pulled him aboard. He told us that he'd been one of the lion tamer's children, but that the ship had been caught in a storm and smashed to pieces about four weeks ago. He said his name was 'Mikey' and that his family were all drowned. He screwed his fists into his eyes and bawled a bit, then promptly fell asleep in my spare hammock! He's here now, looking like he hasn't got a trouble in the world.

Shhh... let him sleep. I'm sure Mikey will bring us a lot of hilarious adventures soon, as well as always having the last word in an amusing 'out of the mouths of babes' way. Keep reading!


The Pirate Captain

Thu, Nov. 25th, 2004, 01:13 am
Ah Callow Youth!

My back is absolutely killing me! I've spent most of today trying out a few new piratical stances and it can certainly take its toll on the old joints. You can never underestimate the importance of a good piratical stance - my old mentor Calico Jack claims that for the first three years as a pirate captain he did little more than stand in a dramatic pose and laugh heartily. And by the end of that time he had the biggest bounty on his head on the Seven Seas!

The secret to a good piratical stance is simple - practice, practice, practice! And then practice again. I spend hours in front of the full length mirror in my office, trying out different angles, crooking a finger here, winking there. It took me two weeks to get just my beard position so that I was happy with it.

Here are a few tips for those starting out:

1. Keep the feet apart to lend yourself a dramatic 'pirate of action' pose. I use a protractor to get my legs at exactly 55º - any less and I'd look like I was waiting for a bus, any more and I'd risk doing myself a mischief.

2. Push the crotch forward. Don't worry - this isn't a dirty thing. It helps prevent your belly from bulging out and gives your thighs a ready-to-spring look.

3. Put one hand on a hip. Be very careful here - there's a fine line between the carefree spirit of the High Seas and looking like camp hairdresser. Try balling your hip hand into a fist and saying things like: 'I'll tell you what, lads. I don't half fancy women, me.'

4. Put the other hand in a 'doing position'. Hold the ship's steering wheel, wave a cutlass or a ham, ruffling the hair on a smaller pirate's head - anything. Keep it busy, but don't fidget. I can't abide people who fidget.

5. Shoulders back, chest out. Hunchback pirates are notoriously rubbish at pirating, so make sure nobody mistakes you for one.

6. Jut chin and/or set jaw. Gritty determination is what you're after. I know what you're thinking "But Pirate Captain, haven't you got a luxuriant beard? How can they see your chin and/or jaw?" Look - who's the pirate captain here? That's right, it's me. So don't talk back, just do as I say. Get it? Good.

7. Keep your eyes narrowed. Stare into the middle distance to give the impression that you're always looking for something abstract and poetic over the next horizon. If the men ask you what you're looking at, say something enigmatic like "Truth, lads." or "Destiny, me beauties." Don't say "antique lace" or "a slide".

8. Get a lady to sit on the deck and hang off your leg sexily. This might be a bit chauvinist nowadays, but a few years back it was all the rage.

Get your pirate stance right and all the rest of it (running people through, roaring, sailing about in a boat, flashing eyes, wearing disguises etc.) will inevitably follow. Of course, you could always cut corners and improvise a piratical stance on the spot. But if I catch you, I'll slit your gizzard before you can say "Wait.. no, please don't slit my gizzard."


The Pirate Captain

P.S. I often do this stance while on one of my adventures, in case you were wondering. That's right - my adventures. I've always thought that if someone wrote them down, they'd make an ideal Christmas present.

Sun, Nov. 21st, 2004, 11:10 pm
The Death of The Infinite

I have a powerful chest, capable of withstanding the fiercest blows and most savage tempests. But inside my herculean frame beats a heart, reader. A heart that loves. A heart that yearns. A heart that feels pain.

Several years ago, that heart took quite a thrashing at the hands of the beautiful and ruthless Countess von B. I don't generally hold with using a pirate boat's log as if it was an adolescent's diary, but I feel that I need to make myself look deep from time to time, so I'm going to record the whole affair here. Brace yourself, readers, for your heart strings will be tugged until they snap, no doubt spraying arterial blood all over the shop.

I first met the Countess during a season pirating the Rhine. She was a raven-haired, ravishing sort and it was only a matter of time before we were romantically entangled - her husband the Count having met a nasty end choking on my cutlass. The rest of that glorious summer was a romantic haze of midnight waltzing, idyllic strolls in the Black Forest and delicious schnitzel. We were besotted with each other, for a while even pirating seemed like another world as I became lost in her lovely dark eyes.

The Countess was an accomplished musician and we spent many a happy hour at her castle in Bavaria, singing shanties that I'd composed while watching the blood red sun setting over the snow-capped peaks. She would accompany me on the accordion, while singing the 'Yo ho ho' bits in her delicate soprano. Ah, reader! The aforementioned heart sighs at the memory.

In September, we spent a golden afternoon singing 'The Mermaid's Lush Face', which I'd written that morning on the way to the castle. I was pretty glad at how it was turning out and as I rode back to the pirate boat, I was brimming over with good humour. Later that day, eager to work out the second verse (what to rhyme with 'eyes of blue'? I never did work that out) I returned to the castle. The Countess met me and I distinctly remember thinking that she looked a bit flustered - I put it down to the effect I have on most women. She told me that she'd love to see me, but she'd been surprised with an unexpected visit from her Aunt Lizzy. I'd never heard of the woman, but you won't catch me wasting time being polite and making small talk with relatives, so I got out of there sharpish. We postponed our shanty session until the aunt has gone home.

On my way down the mountain, I remembered that I'd left my lyric file on the shelf in the Countess' music room. I'd been planning to practice all by myself, but there was no way I could work on 'The Mermaid's Lush Face' without my lyric file. I had no choice, I had to go back. Oh, if only I had had more patience!

I didn't want to get accosted by some senile old aunt, so I crept back into the castle and approached the door to the music room with a stealthy step. I pushed the door open gently and... well... you can't imagine what I saw... the Countess in a clinch with some swarthy-looking man! This wasn't Aunt Lizzy - it was nothing more than a cheap Spanish gardener called Juan! I walked out of the door. There was no reason for me to stay. She had lied. She was more interested in a bit-on-the-side than she was in me or my shanties! I was so enraged that I apologised for disturbing them, took my lyric file and closed the door quietly behind me.

Fortunately, I had better things to do than dally with Countesses. When I got back to the pirate boat it was overrun with eels and the lads were struggling to keep them out of the pool table. I'm not one for moping about, so this was a welcome distraction. But for a while, I couldn't sing 'The Mermaid's Lush Face' without my beard bristling more than usual.

Anyway, that's enough stuff about feelings. I imagine this tale of woe has made any female reader of this log keen to take me out to talk about emotions and try it on with me. Any male readers will want to clap me on the back and buy me a grog. Well, either are welcome - I'm free most weeknights.

Oh - by the way, at no point did I cry.


The Pirate Captain

Fri, Nov. 12th, 2004, 11:39 pm
Seasons Turn And Man Is Humbled

A word of advice: when it comes to giant squids, don't tempt fate by claiming that they're easy to defeat.

My critics tend to say that while I cut an impressive dash as a pirate, I have a tendency not to see things through. They suggest that I get bored easily and this leads to me abandoning things halfway through the job. I hate to admit it (because my critics are my least favourite people) but they may have a point. (Incidentally, none of their other criticisms have any validity - I can actually ice skate very well and I doubt they've even tasted my gooseberry crumble.)

But yes... I may have been a bit hasty in my glib dismissal of that giant squid. In the afternoon, when we'd run out of barnacles to throw at it, I lost interest in the beast and set about planning an adventure with bear baiting. Some of the more conscientious pirates suggested that we should get rid of it, but it seemed like complete waste of time. Half an hour later, I'd pretty much forgotten that it was there - until I was wandering on the deck singing a shanty about pork rind and the dreadful thing slapped me with a tentacle and sent me sprawling onto the deck. Next thing I knew, it had curled a fat suckery hand around my chest and pulled me tight against its nasty face.

This was quite embarrassing, so I pretended to the lads that I was just leaning against its big eye in a casual manner. But when the tentacle started throttling me, I was forced to ask the pirate with a scarf for some help. Before long, the whole crew were tangled up in the squid's rubbery arms. There was no escape - I heroically jammed a sharp knife into the nostril on its beak, but it just let out a horrible high pitched screech and wobbled about.

Today, after 27 boring days of sitting about, wrapped in tentacles and trying to avoid eye contact with each other, the appalling cephalopod finally died with a wheeze from its beak. We clambered free and after a bath (squids absolutely reek) we took turns to kick it on the face.

We had giant calimari for tea, because although I can't stand the stuff (it's like eating elastic bands) I try to make a point of eating any sea creature that I defeat. It's a reputation thing.


The Pirate Captain

Sat, Oct. 16th, 2004, 04:46 pm
Can A Man Be Truth?

Battled a giant squid this morning,. I found the brute sat in the bath, eating my best dressing gown.

If you should ever find yourself attacked by a giant squid, it's actually a lot easier to deal with than you might think:

1) punch the squid on its sensitive beak to make the brute chase after you (don't wear your good shirt for this, because cleaning off ink can be a nightmare)

2) let the squid chase you onto the deck of your boat, where you will of course have already had your loyal pirate crew put down a big sheet of glass.

3) glass is invisible, so the squid won't know anything about it until he's slithered his way onto it - by which time it will be too late, because the suckers on his tentacles
will have stuck fast to the shiny glass surface.

Then you can just spend the afternoon throwing barnacles at him.

Sun, Oct. 3rd, 2004, 01:05 pm
What Lies Behind The Door To The Mind's Dark Eye?

Another day, another nautical dilemma. The pirate with a face like a gnome - actually, now I think about it I can remember this one's name, it's DAN HICKS - had fallen asleep inside a barrel. He's always doing this kind of thing to try and get out of doing chores. Bleats on about 'the-working-pirate-is-being-oppressed' this and 'you've-got-nothing-to-lose-except-your-chains' that, but never lifts a finger to help out with the swabbing. That's him all over.

Anyhow, seeing him there in that barrel, sleeping like a horribly wrinkled, balding baby, I was struck by an idea for a fantastic new game. I gathered the crew about, and one by one we all took turns to poke our cutlasses through the gaps between barrel's wooden slats. The idea was that the pirate whose cutlass prod woke Dan Hicks up and sent him leaping high into the air would win some sort of a prize, perhaps one of those dried out seahorses that are so collectable nowadays.

Unfortunately the game didn't really work because after we'd all taken our turn and Dan Hicks still hadn't leapt out, I peered into the barrel and saw that he had just bled to death from around twenty fatal stab wounds. "Get to the point, Pirate Captain, it sounds like he deserved it, so what's your dilemma?" I hear you ask. Well, the problem is this: once I've sorting out the teething problems, what should I call my brilliant new game? The crew are all plumping for 'Pop Up Pirate'. But I tend to favour 'Lucky Stab Game'. Or even 'Lucky Stab Dan Hicks Through His Scrawny Neck What Was That Spanish Princess Thinking Getting It Together With Him Game'. Will I ever get a rest from this kind of terrible responsibility?


The Pirate Captain

Thu, Sep. 30th, 2004, 11:45 pm
The Wind of History

Other than the exciting moral dilemma on Sunday, things have been a bit quiet on the boat of late. No freak weather conditions, no mysterious strangers in hoods, no attacks by the Royal Navy, no whales-that-turn-out-to-be-islands-yet-again... nothing. I've been struggling to think what to write in the Log, so I've done a lot of staring out of my porthole and drawing the doodles that you see around the page. I apologise for some of the more ribald illustrations of pirate women, but in my defence, it can get quite lonely at sea. Also, I can't do hands.

So I've decided to write about something that happened a few months back to demonstrate the problem of impostors.

When you're a celebrated nautical legend like myself, you're going to have to deal with quite a few impostors. Countless tragic mental cases travel about, claiming to be you and reaping the rewards of your hard work and glittering reputation. Many a time we've sailed into a port and been assaulted by women who claim to be carrying my child or angry butchers waving huge credit bills that I've supposedly run up. On occasion it can work to my advantage - I admit I have managed to credit some of my more embarrassing or unsuccessful adventures to impostors. But by and large it's a flaming nuisance, as in this case.

We were hopping up and down the coast of West Africa in the pirate boat, mostly raiding colonial settlements (primarily for ideological reasons) but from time to time we'd drop anchor and take in some of the local colour. It was on one such occasion that we were beset by locals proclaiming me to be their god, returned to save them from a volcano that was smoking ominously nearby.

You could practically hear my baby blue eyes roll in their sockets - I couldn't believe we were going to have to have such a clichéd and tedious adventure. I asked them if they were certain that it was me. Sure enough, they had a photo of some cheeky cove who bore a certain resemblance, grinning like an idiot with a couple of attractive, statuesque native women. I tried pointing out how his beard was less lustrous than mine and that I wouldn't be seen dead in black pirate boots with navy twill britches, but to no avail.

So, we did the adventure and although predictable, it wasn't all bad. We got some decent food - the tribe did a fantastic crown of lamb with potato dauphinoise. The volcano was a cinch, as I just got the lads to fire some cannons at the other side, making a big hole that let the magma flow away from the village. It destroyed a slave-trader's camp, so I managed to make a political point as well.

When I run out of ideas again, I may well write more about impostors, but until then - keep on your toes, because if you don't, somebody else will. And that somebody else could be the Royal Navy or an angry old man with no clothes on.


The Pirate Captain

Sun, Sep. 26th, 2004, 01:25 pm
What Price, A Soul?

You might like to know that a recent survey conducted by the albino pirate amongst followers of our piratical adventures shows that:

Women are hooked by the moral dilemmas

Men are fascinated by the issues

Everybody enjoys the pace

Well ladies, you’re in for a treat, because this morning I was faced with perhaps the most terrible MORAL DILEMMA of all. For last night I had a vivid dream in which our clumsy cabin boy (the one who forgot to make any mint sauce for my chops that time, and who then almost set fire to my luxuriant beard with a scented candle) grew up to become an appalling DICTATOR in a bleak dystopian future. Waking up and rubbing the sleep from my piercing blue eyes it was immediately apparent to me that this dream was not really a dream at all, but more a premonition.

I called for the pirate with a scarf and told him the bad news. What to do? This young lad had committed no crimes as yet, but if I allowed him to reach adulthood I knew his slightly ratty little face and those fat little fingers of his would bring untold terror to millions. It seemed that, for the greater good, I had no option but to cut that cabin boy down in his prime. But did I have the right? Could I bring myself to do it? Who was I to play God?

The pirate with a scarf wasn’t much help to be honest. He pointed out that I may have been subconsciously influenced by the chops/beard incident from the day before. And also noted that I had eaten quite a lot of fairly ropey cheese just prior to going to bed. Finally he reminded me that during our adventure with scientists we learnt that very little significance could be read into what is really just the brain doing its best to interpret a random sensory input, that premonitions and all that supernatural business don’t exist, and that people who bang on about their dreams all the time are pretty boring.

That’s as maybe, but as I watched that clumsy cabin boy almost drop one of my prize hams off the side of the boat I decided that I simply couldn’t take the risk. Pushing him overboard and seeing those hammerhead sharks wolf him down I couldn’t help but wonder about the awful decisions we are each of us faced with everyday of our lives.

Still, if any of you happen to be reading this journal a few hundred years from now, and if you’re not all looking glum, dressed in rags, living in that bleak dystopia I mentioned, than you have me to thank. You might even want to think about putting up one of those blue plaques to commemorate my selfless actions. And you’ll be pleased to know that our new cabin boy is brilliant, hasn’t overcooked my steaks once, and I suspect might even be an attractive young woman dressed as a boy so she can enjoy a life at sea.

Gambatte, lubbers!, as they say in Japan.


The Pirate Captain

Thu, Sep. 16th, 2004, 12:43 am
Here Is Sorrow Upon Sorrow

A few years ago, I met a lovely young Duchess who was rather sweet on me. She had deep blue eyes and luscious red lips which curved into a delightful lop-sided smile when she was amused. Naturally, I invited her aboard my boat for a romantic meal.

Normally I make a point of sending the lads off on an errand when I’m wining (well grogging, but it sounds bad) and dining a lady. But this time they’d seen through the old ‘tartan paint’ gag and I’d been forced to get a few of them to dress up as posh mute waiters to make me look good.

I’d decided to that we’d have a nice piece of fillet steak for the meal – it’s light and boneless, which makes it easy for a lady to eat, plus it’s tender. I remember that the steak was served by the pirate with a hook for a hand, just as I was reaching the halfway point in a joke about an admiral and a starfish. I continued with the joke, doing all the right voices, but try as I might, I couldn’t concentrate. The Duchess (I forget her name) was slicing the whole steak into tiny, tiny portions before eating any of it! I couldn’t believe my flashing piratical eyes – didn’t she know that this would lead to a loss of moisture? Didn’t she realise that smaller pieces would minimise chewing – and thereby reduce the amount of flavour released onto her tongue? She may have had dainty lips, but her mouth wasn’t that small.

The rest of the date went badly. I fluffed the punchline to the joke, forgetting the bit about the boat hook. I was transfixed by the way she was eating. I started to notice little faults – she wore too many pearls, her fingernails were a bit uneven and she had an eyelash on her cheek. My sparkling repartee dried up and we ended the meal in silence, sipping grog and looking out of the porthole. We never saw each other again.

The moral? Eat fillet steak properly or get off my ship, lubbers.

Tankard Update: You may recall that a few weeks ago I got a pewter tankard stuck on my hand? The good news is that I finally managed to get it off this afternoon. After it got stuck, I spent the first few days hiding it from the men, but I think they noticed. This morning the pirate with a scarf heated the pewter with a candle, expanding the metal and allowing me to slide my hand free. Three cheers for science!


The Pirate Captain

Mon, Sep. 13th, 2004, 12:30 am
A Glimpse Of The Abyss

You'll have to excuse the spots of chicken grease on today's entry. I'm enjoying a particularly nice cold meal while I write and every so often I get my quill hand mixed up with the drumstick and end up smearing fat onto the paper. Please bear with me.

Two weeks ago, the lads managed to smuggle yet another mascot on board the boat. Anyone familiar with my adventures will know that they have an annoying tendency to go soft over creatures. This time they'd somehow acquired a horrible cockerel, which they had christened 'Paul'. It was a hideous thing - feathers missing, dirty beak, glassy eyes, the lot. It actually gave me nightmares for a few days. It didn't help that the pirate in green had made him a little cockerel trouser suit and top hat. He looked the spitting image of my old English teacher, who I hated.

Worse still, every morning it started crowing at an ungodly hour. I was desperate to find a way to get rid of the thing, but it's so difficult where the crew are concerned - they started blubbing and making doe eyes whenever I threatened Paul with my cutlass. If I'd chopped him in half I would have had a mutiny on my hands.

This morning, Paul got me out of bed at 10.30! That was the last straw. I was exhausted and without sleep my beard loses some of its characteristic shine and I have a tendency to snap at people. I decided that I had to do something, so I crept about the boat taking small belongings from each pirate's hammock - a locket here, a lucky rabbit's foot there... nothing too big, but everything that had sentimental value. Then I secreted them all in Paul's nest along with my best sextant.

"Hey lads! There's a thief on board!," I shouted. "Someone or something has stolen my sextant! Best check your stuff."

When they'd all had the chance to work out what was missing, I walked over to Paul's nest. He fixed me with a glassy eye and clucked.

"Oh no, lads! Look! It turns out Paul was the thief all along," I said, doing my best to conceal my smile behind a few strands of beard. "We'll have to kill him now. Such a shame."

The crew looked at me sadly, but I could see that they were resigned to Paul's fate. A swift kick later and his stupid bird head was flying out into the sea, along with the top hat.

I'm looking forward to a long, relaxing lie-in tomorrow morning. Mind you, I'll say one thing for Paul - his wings are meatier than they looked.


Pirate Captain

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