View Full Version : Poetry and Creative writing

brian daley
11-19-2008, 09:01 AM
Hi there all you budding poets and writers of sea stories,this thread is for you,the usual rules apply,no politics,porn or religion,just pure ,unadulterard, writing for the joy of it.

captain kong
11-19-2008, 03:42 PM
Here is my famous tale of the Mersey that I read out at the Merchant Navy Day Service in St Nicholas Church in September.


What a wonderful river the Mersey is, it is a conveyor to the seas and oceans of the world. It is a river that has changed so many lives.

Let us not forget, it was from this River Mersey, that those brave men and women, sailed into U-boat Alley, in the Battle of the Atlantic, and in the Malta and Russian convoys, many never to return, some leaving their bones on the bottom of the ocean, others were buried in some far off land, many suffered extreme hardships in lifeboats. The Ship Owners stopping their wages on the day the ship went down.

It was this same River Mersey that carried me out, as a young Deck Boy, to sail amongst the flying fish, the dolphins, the whales and the odd sea serpent.
From the River Mersey we sailed to those other great rivers, The St. Laurence, to Montreal, the Hudson to New York, a thousand miles up the Amazon to Manaus, the Plate, the Congo, the Whampoa to Shanghai, the Houghly to Calcutta and the Shatt al Arab in the Gulf.

Sailing out of the River Mersey on the old Cunard Liners, the `Franconia` and `Britannic`, gave me a chance to meet many celebrities, from Mary Pickford, Bob Hope, Burt Lancaster and many others
In the Market Diner opposite pier 90 in New York, I sat next to the beautiful Grace Kelly one night, and the next I sat with Cadillac Kate.
Up on Broadway I shook hands with `The Hand That Shook The World`, in Jack Dempsey?s Bar and in the clubs across the road I danced to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
The River Mersey took me out to Jamaica on a Fyffe?s banana boat and a meeting with Errol Flynn where we shared a bottle of Rum on his yacht `Zacca`.
I sailed down the River Mersey in 1959 and met Fidel Castro and when I asked him to buy me a drink he told me to "Vamoose" or something like that.

The River Mersey allowed us to go on the worlds biggest pub crawl, From Joe Beefs in Montreal, the Diner in New York, the Scandy Bar in Valparaiso. To May Sullivan?s Bar in Buenos Aires, , then across to Tombo Mary?s in Apapa, Nigeria, down to Del Monaco?s in Cape Town, up to the Anchor Bar in Mombassa, across to Mary Bashems and the Blood House in Sydney and Ma Gleason?s in Auckland.

This River Mersey took me out to see all my girl friends around the world. To Rosita, Paquita and Maria in South America. To my lovely Wahine under the swaying palms in Tahiti. To Maggie in New Zealand where she and her friends sang, `Now is the Hour`, as we sailed out into the Pacific, To Hanako in Moji, Japan, where I had to share a hot bath tub with her Mamasan and Papasan, whilst drinking Sake. To Dedeh in Tanjong Priok in Java, with her colourful sarong and beautiful long black hair. Then there was Mimi in Hong Kong who kept me going in free beer with the dollars she robbed off the American Sailors.

The River Mersey took us out across the Atlantic on the big white `Empress?s, `the Empress of Scotland` and `Empress of France`. We went to Montreal and drank in the `House of Scouse` and saw Joe Finnegan and Tommy Lawless win the singing contests on the Bulova Watch Radio Show.
On the `Empress of France` we hit the iceberg and lost 40 feet of bilge keel.

After sailing down the River Mersey, many jumped ship, to be Waiters and Bartenders in New York, or Lumberjacks in Canada, Sheepherders in New Zealand or Wharfies in Australia.
After 24 years as an Able Seaman, it was on the banks of the Mersey, up on Derby Square, where I sat for my Mates and Masters Certificates, which gave me that wonderful feeling when navigating a 300,000 ton tanker across the oceans of the world.
Now that I have retired after 45 years of seafaring, I stand on the Pier Head and looking out onto the dark waters of the River Mersey, I can see the ghosts of the old ships sailing past, outward bound to a world that no longer exists.
The `Reina Del Pacifico` to Valparaiso, the `Georgic` taking ?10 Poms to a new life in Australia, the `Franconia` and `Empress of Scotland` off to New York and Montreal, the Blue Funnel ships to Java, China and Japan. Elder Dempsters, Harrison?s, Ellerman`s and `Maggie` Booths with many others, all have sailed off the face of the earth, never to return. Then I think of the Mersey, what a wonderful River, it gave me all of this and much more. Thank you, River Mersey. Brian Aspinall, aka Captain Kong.

captain kong
11-19-2008, 03:46 PM
Author unknown.

Ten thousand miles and a world away
Old `Alehouse `on his death bed lay,
Alone and forgotten lying there
he softly whispered this dying prayer.

Oh take me back to my younger days
To the old Pier Head and the Landing Stage.
Where the Liver Birds with gaze serene
look down upon the bustling scene.

Where the double decker trams roll by
their trolleys swinging in the sky,
and homeward Dockers wearily tread
underneath the Overhead.

The busy ferry boats leave the Stage
rolling and bumping on the waves.
Fighting hard against the tide
all the way to the other side.

Dockers in long greasy coats
horses and carts on the luggage boats
Buckets and spades in grubby hands
heading for New Brighton sands

Banana boats and liners tall
moored together along the Wall.
Copra, cotton and sugar cane
barges loading up with grain.

Wet Nellies and great mugs of tea
in the Cocoa rooms by the old Goree
Coolies parading down Scotland Road
dressed in Paddy`s Market clothes.

Gone is the Liverpool that I knew
Gone are all my old friends too
The trams, the horses and the floats
Gone are all the Cunard boats.

Oh take me back to the old Pier Head
to ride once more on the Overhead
To sign on at the Pool again
Alehouse`s last trip down Memory Lane

posted by `Alehouse`, aka CaptainKong. Author unknown,

captain kong
11-19-2008, 03:51 PM
FIDDLERS GREEN. Author unknown.

As I roved by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the salt waters and take in the salt air
I heard an old sailorman singing a song
"Oh take me away boys me time is not long

Wrap me up in me oilskin and blankets
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I'm taking a trip mates
And I'll see you someday on Fiddlers Green

Now Fiddlers Green is a place I've heard tell
Where sailormen go if they don't go to hell
Where the weather is fair and the dolphin do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far,far away

Now when you're in dock and the long trip is through
There's pubs and there's clubs and there's fair lassies too
And the girls are all pretty and the beer is all free
And there's bottles of rum growing on every tree

Where the skies are all clear and there's never a gale
And the fish jump aboard with a swish of the tail
Where you lie at your leisure there's no work to do
And the skippers below making tea for the crew

Wrap me up in me oilskin and blankets
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I'm taking a trip mates
I'll see you again on Fiddlers Green

Now I don?t want a harp nor a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea
I'll play me old squeeze box as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging to sing me a song.
And I'll see you again on Fiddlers Green..................".

Wrap me up in me oilskin and blankets
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I'm taking a trip mates
And I'll see you someday on Fiddlers Green

11-19-2008, 03:58 PM
Sailing out of the River Mersey on the old Cunard Liners, the `Franconia` and `Britannic`, gave me a chance to meet many celebrities, from Mary Pickford, Bob Hope, Burt Lancaster and many others, aka Captain Kong.

Great memories, Brian. Thanks for sharing them with us. Maybe you were on the Britannic when I sailed on her circa 1957? I also sailed from Liverpool on the Saxonia, when I initially emigrated to the U.S. in 1955, and I believe I was also on the original Queen Elizabeth from New York to Southampton on one crossing.



11-19-2008, 04:06 PM
This first piece is in the way of a found poem that I put together for the "Liverpool Poem800 (http://www.poem800.com/)" site. The second, original, poem was also written for that site.

Sailing Day: Liverpool, Tuesday, July 16th, 1833

I am not usually very particular about dates;
but, as there is an odd coincidence connected with
the 16th, I desire to note it. On this day, then,
about 3 P.M. I was rumbled from Bold-street
down to St. George?s Dock, accompanied
by a few friends, who were resolute to extend their
kindness to the latest limit time and tide,
those unyielding agents, might allow.

Arrived at the ship?s side, I found
a number of my own poor countrymen,
agricultural speculators, filling up a leisure
moment before seeking harvest, in seeing
?Who in the world was going to America, all that way. . .?

Disposing amongst the boys the few shillings I had left
in my pocket, I jumped on board the packet-
ship Europe, without cross or coin, saving only
a couple of luck-pennies, the one an American gold
eagle, the present of an amiable gentlewoman;
the other a crooked sixpence, suspended
by a crimson ribbon, the offering of a fair
?maid of the inn,? given to me on the very eve
of sailing-day with many kind wishes,
all of which have been realized.*

Tyrone Power

* This reminiscence by Irish actor Tyrone Power (1795-1841), great grandfather of the movie actor of the same name, recollects one of a number of cross-atlantic trips the actor made to appear on the American stage. During one such ocean crossing, on March 17, 1841, he was lost at sea when his ship sank on a passage back to England.

Take As Take Can

We?re huddled in Mother Redcap?s one freezing night
swigging rum and porter, content that we?ve stowed
our wreckers? best-found gains in Redcap?s cellars,
a-ready to haul them out shortly, up over the moors

when in swaggers Jack Daws, excise officer -- our foe!
-- may Beelzebub take the man! Daws eyes us cannily.
We lean closer, devise a plan: Jack has not spied me,
so I sneak out the back way, sprint down to the beach,

like a fool lay down in the dark cold, incoming tide.
Water licks my face, drenches my clothes immediately.
What is taking them so long? Has our plan gone awry?
Will I succumb to b-b-bone-numbing cold, ever get dry?

My teeth are a-chattering; do I though hear a yell?
Jack Daws comes a-swaggering down to the swell,
believes me dead. Aye -- I might be soon as well!
Blighter picks my pocket, takes my best fob watch!

I groan and pretend to wake, grasp my handspike,
stun him smack! with an almighty swing. Oh, brother!
So, mateys, we haul our goods through the back door!
Aye, ?tis some neat and crafty work tonight at Mother?s!

Christopher T. George

Note: This poem is based on a story told about the tavern run in the 18th century by Mother Redcap on the shore at Liscard across the Mersey from Liverpool. Tradition has it that the inn was frequented by smugglers and wreckers -- men who would pillage shipwrecked ships. They were said to have hidden their ill-gotten gains at Mother Redcap?s and at the Red Noses west of New Brighton.

11-19-2008, 04:14 PM

'When I'm discharged in Liverpool 'n' draws my bit

o' pay,

I won't come to sea no more.
I'll court a pretty little lass 'n' have a weddin' day,

'N' settle somewhere down ashore.
I'll never fare to sea again a-temptin' Davy Jones,
A-hearkening to the cruel sharks a-hungerin' for

my bones;

I'll run a blushin' dairy-farm or go a-crackin' stones,
Or buy 'n' keep a little liquor-store,'

So he said.

They towed her in to Liverpool, we made the

hooker fast,

And the copper-bound officials paid the crew,
And Billy drew his money, but the money didn't

For he painted the alongshore blue,

John Masefield



Is there anything as I can do ashore for you
When youve dropped down the tide?

You can take 'n' tell Nan I'm goin' about the
world agen,

'N' that the world's wide.
'N' tell her that there ain't no postal service

Not down on the blue sea.

'N' tell her that she'd best not keep her fires

Nor set up late for me.
'N' tell her I'll have forgotten all about her

Afore we cross the Line.

'N' tell her that the dollars of any other sailor-

Is as good red gold as mine.

John Masefield

captain kong
11-20-2008, 12:08 AM
Hi George I did a trip on the Brit in 1956,
here is another favourite poem of the Sea.

My old Ships.

When old ships I used to know come back from the sea
they are laden with a cargo, full of messages for me.
And they bring men I used to know, grown older by the years
to chat about the old days and lift a glass that cheers.

When old ships I used to know drop anchor by the shore
with a salty, smoky funnel and a pennant at the fore
Red rust on the bowplate and decks that smell of brine,
I know them as the old ships that will ever more be mine.

When old ships come back again they tell of an Empires`s fame
or a Consul`s office out abroad where I sometimes signed my name.
To work my passage, broke and bent, a heart like a lump of lead,
till "***** Street" changed to "Promised Land" on sighting Beachy Head.

In old ships I used to know I`d lean on the rail at night
and follow the lay of the Southern Cross, from the Line to the Aussie Bight.
I`d count the days from Calleo, to the Horn and the Flortida Keys
with the Great Bear as a pilot through the North Atlantic Seas.

The old ships I used to know from Penang to the Golden Gate
they wrap their arms around me and whisper a sailing date
and I`m out on the run to Rio, and back with a concience clear
on every course of the compass the `Old Man` chose to steer.

The old ships, they give me joy, but bring me something more,
they bring Cape Town and Freemantle right up to my front door.
When I sit by a cosy fireside and the wind howls through the trees,
there`s a call that veers to the harbour piers, the call of the open seas.

by Sydney Brand, in `Sea Breezes` August 1950

naked lilac
11-20-2008, 07:50 AM
:handclap::snf (41): Excellant memories, poems and writing.. ta lads..:snf (41):

11-24-2008, 07:31 PM
:) I put this on another site a while ago




.......A SEAMAN!!!!!!!

Bob F

11-24-2008, 07:44 PM
Here in Watford I met a pensioner who originated from Vauxhall Road his name was Ronnie Carr and his Father had been a merchant seaman in the war. He told me that his Dad went on an Atlantic convoy and coming back from America the ship he was on got sunk by a German u boat. Ronnie?s Dad was lost at sea. Back in Liverpool Ronnie?s Mum had a few kids to feed. After being informed of his loss she applied to the shipping company and then to the admiralty for his wages receiving each time the same reply that was, because he did not complete the trip he signed up for he could not be paid. Apparently if you never got there and back you never got anything.

11-24-2008, 07:54 PM
:) Also posted in another site

Have you ever thought what it must be like
To face an Arctic winter storm?,
From the deck of an ice-bound ship
In the early light of dawn?.

With the steel of the hull so cold to touch
It would flay the skin from your hand,
And nothing above , but a late gray sky,
And far from a friendly land.

With red rimmed eyes, and a face that is gaunt,
The result of a forced lack of sleep,
And nerves that are stretched beyond breaking point,
As watch after watch you keep.

Think how it feels to face danger and fear,
In clothes that are wet through and cold,
For hours and days, or long weeks on end,
No wonder young men grew old.

Do you know what it takes to face a foe,
That you may never see or hear,
Until the klaxon's shrill and strident blare
Gives warning that they are near?.

Can you guess how it is to see a friend
Die a hard and lingering death,
To be at his side and not show your tears
As he draws his final breath?.

Think how it feels to be one who has seen
That dead friend weighted with lead,
Consigned to a dark and friendless sea
When the last Amen is said.

If you can imagine all of these things,
Then I ask you to spare a thought
For those gallant men, who were heroes all,
In the special war that they fought.

Author unknown

Bob F

11-24-2008, 08:08 PM
Paddy, re the pensioner's father.
Your pensioner is quite correct in telling you that if a ship was sunk or lost for
any reason during the war, the survivors - if any - had their pay stopped
immediately. In other words, the "articles" ( or agreement) they had signed had been broken - through no fault of their own, therefore they were no longer employed !!!.

I guess I was very lucky, I was not torpedoed,- very close, but not quite !!.

Bob F :)

brian daley
11-24-2008, 08:22 PM
Roccija does'nt say so,but he is a veteran of the Russian convoys,that poem he posted has great meaning for him;he is the stuff that heroes are made of.

Ron B Manderson
11-24-2008, 08:49 PM
well said Brian
He was there when they needed them, not feeding them.
I have had the honour to meet this man, and he never ever mentions it.
A gent I highly regard.

11-24-2008, 08:57 PM
Thats a fantastic poem. I must say this it is very like Masefield.Yet sea poets would most likely be influenced by the poet Masefield as he wrote the finest sea poetry. I like the narrative poem called the Dauber you have mostly likely read it.

My mate died last year. He was a Watford lad who loved Liverpool, as his first voyage as a training ships egineer was out the port of Liverpool. He told me as a young fella walking along the dock road he asked a docker where the blue Star ship he was looking for was and the docker replied 'the Star is over there and your the star thats getting on it'.

captain kong
11-24-2008, 09:22 PM
When the POOL FISHER sank 29 years ago this month, 6 November 1979, the wages were stopped for them on the day she sank.
13 died and two young lads survived, I was a witness at the inquest and the Court of Inquiry.
Most of the families lived in the North West and they had to pay their own fares and accommodation to the Inquest in Gosport, Hampshire,
One year later a young lady turned up at the Court of Inquiry, in Blackpool at the Norbreck Hotel. The ship owner didnt even tell the widows there was a Court of Inquiry. I spoke to her, then took her for a dinner on the Treasurers Solicitors expence.
She lost her husband. She told me they were buying a three bed semi detatched house on a mortgage overlooking the Menai Straits, she had three children, one born after the sinking, She said she still had not recieved the wages that her dead husband had earned before he died. She could not pay her mortgage, they were evicted, and dumped in a two bed Council flat. His Mother went down to Bournemouth which overlooked the site of the sinking. She walked into the sea and drowned herself.
The ship owners, were James Fisher of Barrow.
Things dont change.

11-24-2008, 09:28 PM
Thats an awful tale Kong, but good man for telling it.

captain kong
11-24-2008, 09:32 PM
I am writing the whole story at the moment, I will post it when it is finished, it was a very sad event. I can still have nightmares over it.

11-24-2008, 09:38 PM
I must admit I don't remember it too well but I will deffo look at your further stuff.

11-25-2008, 04:13 AM
Great thread guys:PDT11

captain kong
11-25-2008, 10:16 PM
Billy Pegleg.

I have a friend called Billy Pegleg
and he has a good leg
and he also has a wood leg.
and Billy is a ships cook and he lives upon the sea.
and hanging by his griddle
old Billy keeps his fiddle
for fiddling in the dog watch while the moon shines on the sea.
and its grand to see them dancing ,
them bow legged sailors dancing
while Billy plays his fiddle fast and free.
and its good to see old Pegleg
a waltzing on his woodleg
when the Bosun plays the fiddle
so old Peg can dance with me


captain kong
11-26-2008, 05:26 PM
Here`s one I wrote earlier.

The Lap of Honour.

I went to the `Vindi*`when I was a lad,
where conditions were hard
and the food was bad,
but I walked through those gates
as tall as a man
off to my first ship bound for Japan

And now I`ve retired and saved up my cash
once more round the world I am going to dash
to Mombasa and Java and out to Cathay
to see all my old girl friends
once more on the way

Mimi`s still waiting for me I`ve been told
I`d like to see her before she gets old
then on to see Dedeh in Tanjong Patack
then fly off on a Jumbo to Hong Kong`s Kai Tak

I`ll go back to Tahiti down in the South Seas
to see my Wahine in the warm sunny breeze
Then across to see Maggie in New Zealand`s Hawkes Bay
and have a beer in Ma Gleesons* back on the way

I`ll do the Lap of Honour round the Australian coast
to see all the girls who loved me the most,
from Thursday Island round to Sydney and Perth
they were the loveliest girls on earth

I`ll go to see Sheila and then Marylou
and call upon Mary in Woolloomooloo
then go up to Townsville to see Mary O`Keefe
where we walked hand in hand by the Great Barrier Reef

When I think of those nights by a blue lagoon
loving my girl under a tropical moon
and those happy times that we both shared..........
my Mary`s still waiting for me so I`ve heard.

On then to Honolulu and then Frisco Bay
and up to Vancouver and down to L.A.
I`ll jump on a Greyhound across to Hoboken
to see my Jenny whose heart I had broken

In Manhattan`s Times Square and 42nd Street
there must be some girls that I used to meet
it would be sad if I looked around
and none of my girls were there to be found.

So off I would go to old Mexico
to see my Juanita down in Tampico.
then across to see Molly in Montego Bay
and go up the Blue Mountains where we used to play

On then to Rio, Montevideo and B.A.
To May Sullivan`s Bar, where I used to stay.
There was Rosita, Paquita and also Maria,
On then to Santos and round to Bahia
Then when I return home again
to Liverpool`s dark and dismal rain
all my memories will always stay
they are something that no one can take away

I`ll be thinking now that I`ll get a shock
on my memory trip to turn back the clock.
things won`t be the same time has moved on
the young girls I once loved have grown old and are gone.

and now that I am coming to the end of my time
I must put my memories down into rhyme.
`cos when you are young life is all magic
but as you get older life becomes tragic.

but there is still some life in the old dog yet
and there`s more adventures for me to get
so I`ll be heading off into the sun
to have more excitement and plenty of fun.

I`ts not for me to tend the garden and flowers
polishing the brasses , walking the dog for hours.
but to go round the world in a blaze of glory
then I`ll come back home to write my story.

And then one day when I am old and grey
and my life`s been used up and it`s come time to pay
as I lie on my bed on my face will be a smile
I`ll just be a thinking ` it`s all been worth while.

Brian Aspinall, aka Captain Kong

11-26-2008, 05:47 PM
Very good Cpt Kong:handclap::handclap:

captain kong
11-27-2008, 11:32 AM
Here is one I like....

Yesterday upon the stair
I saw a man who wasnt there
He wasnt there again today
Oh how I wish he`d go away.


brian daley
11-28-2008, 03:50 PM
What happened,was there summat up? where's everyone gone. Not a sailor in sight when you need 'em. I'd got meself all geared up to reading more salty yarns and what've we got ,Zippo thats what! I guess I'll have to dig a few of mine out then.............................................. ...

captain kong
11-28-2008, 09:47 PM
This is a poem of the USS TRIGGER in WW2.
It was written by one of the crew who paid the ultimate price the next voyage.

You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

I look sleek and slender alongside my tender
With others like me at my side,
But we'll tell you a story of battle and glory,
As enemy waters we ride.

I've been stuck on a rock, felt the depth charge's shock,
Been north to a place called Attu,
and I've sunk me two freighters atop the equator
Hot work, but the sea was cold blue.

I've cruised close inshore and carried the war
to the Empire Island Honshu,
While they wire Yokahama I could see Fujiyama,
So I stayed, to admire the view.

When we rigged to run silently, deeply I dived,
And within me the heat was terrific.
My men pouring sweat, silent and yet
Cursed me and the whole dam*ed Pacific.

Then destroyers came sounding and depth charges pounding
My submarine crew took the test.
For in that far off land there are no friends on hand,
To answer a call of distress.

I was blasted and shaken some damage I've taken,
my hull bleeds and pipe lines do, too
I've come in from out there for machinery repair,
And a rest for me and my crew.

I got by on cool nerve and in silence I served,
Though I took some hard knocks in return,
One propeller shaft sprung and my battery's done,
But I saw the enemy ships burn.
I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast,
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan,
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

USS Trigger was lost with all hands during her twelfth patrol,
on March 26, 1945.

brian daley
11-28-2008, 11:15 PM
The Bosun's Story

"Ice" said the bosun,sniffing like a dog
Across the rail to wind'ard in the Cape Horn fog,
"Ice" said the bosun "wot sunk the Skerryvore
Time I siled onboard 'er back in seventy four".

"The Ol' Man was looney - worst I ever knew;
'E cracked on to blazes when it was thick as stew;
'E bunged through it blindfold - fourteen knots we ran
'Till we fouled a berg bigger 'n the blinkin' Calf of Man".

"We run our bows on it in the middle of the night,
An' a fallin' spar killed 'im - and **** well sarve 'im right!
We took to the longboat, and it was jump or drown ;
She'd 'ardly touched the water when the ship went down."

"We made land at daybreak - ice an' sand an' stones,
An' seabirds waitin' an' a wind that chilled your bones;
An' for two blessed months there we lived like fightin'- cocks
On the winkles an' seaweed we gathered off the rocks."

"Till a spouter chanced to sight us , cruisin' round that way,
Or else we'd be stiff 'uns layin' there to-day;
An' ice said the bosun, sniffin' once again,
"Is a thing I've had no use for , no ,never since then."

This was written by a lady,Cicely Fox Smith, in 1931 .She captures the feeling of fear that all old blue watermen had for icebergs. A little known poem that deserves a better reading ,

brian daley
11-29-2008, 07:31 PM
More than a couple of years ago ,my wife,Sue,and I were holidaying in Turkey ,in a little place called Altinkum. I was grey bearded even then and some folk said I had more than a passing resemblance to St. Nick.
One evening we went to a little restaurant in a place called Prierne ,we were sat at a table for six even though we were only two in number. As we were waiting to catch the waiters eye ,a young couple with two small children entered the dining room and as they were waiting to be seated their daughter ,a girl of about six, spotted me and rushed across the restaurant and threw her arms around my legs and hugged me, She had the loveliest smile on her face as she looked up at me. Her parents raced to pull her off but she would not let go. My wife and I were laughing like hell but the young couple were clearly embarrassed. I invited them to sit with us as their daughter was evidently not going to go without a fight. So there six of us now and we ordered our meal with the little girl sat firmly at my side.She thought I was you know who. Mum and Dad quickly got over their initial embarrassment and they told us about their special daughter,she was 7 and had slight autism which made her very determined to see any thing through to the finish. her brother ,who was two years older was a wonderfully balanced young man and was very protective of his sister. We introduced ourselves and we told each other where we were from,when we mentioned Birmingham they told us that a family in their hotel was from Birmingham and that they had two children the same ages as their own and that the daughter of the other family was autistic like their own daughter and that the son was like their soon ,a protector of his special sister. We passed an enjoyable two hours and bade them goodbye. Next day we bumped into them again and the little girl once more took command of me, so we sat and had an ice cream with them.This time they told us more of the family from Birmingham,they were from M=====m Road in Kings Heath,the boys name was Jonathan and the girls name was Maria. Dad was a carpenter and Mum worked as a dinner lady at Jonathans school and they had brought Grandma along so that she could baby sit while mum and dad went out dancing. More information than we needed to know,but it passed the time.
Scroll forward a few days and we find Sue and me relaxing on our Lilos on the beach in an adjacent bay,and there, not twenty yards away, was a family that resembled the profile of the family from Kings Heath. The boy and girl were busy digging a huge hole in the sand and they looked over at us and started whispering to each other. I tried reading my book but everytime I looked up I could see that I was under close scrutiny from the two youngsters. At length, the little girl walked slowly toward me and stood at the end of my Lilo and pronounced ,very nervously ,"My bruvver finks yew look like Farver Christmas" Her little index finger pushed against her lower lip. I lowered my book and put my finger to my pursed lips and said "Shsssh, I'm on holiday!" She blushed bright red and ran back to her brother,whispering excitedly;he dropped his spade and struutted toward me ,little chest thrust out and features flushed. "You're not Father Christmas " he proclaimed,giving me a look of defiance. I sat up and put down my book ."So, that means that you are not Jonathan, and that little girl is'nt Maria ,your sister" his jaw dropped and I went on..." so that means that your Dad is'nt a carpenter and your Mum is'nt dinner lady ,and that there old lady is'nt your Gran and you don't live in M=====m Rd. in Kings Heath in Birmingham. He was gasping "'Ow ooh ahh" his eyes like saucers and his mouth one big O. " Jonathan" I said looking over the top of my spectacles, "I am on holiday and this is a secret between Maria ,me and you " his little head was nodding frantically "You must'nt tell anyone d'you hear?" "Yes Father Christmas " he replied and he ran straight to Maria and had a hurried conflab with her and then both of them came back to us . They asked me to tell them all about Snowland and the elves and reindeer. And like an old fool I told them ,they were entranced. Each time we saw them after that they would give secret signs of recognition and beg anther story. On the last evening of our holiday ,both young families invited us to join them in a dinner farewell and I told Sue that I would tell the Kids that I had been kidding them. But when I saw their little faces that night I could'nt do it,they believed in me so much. Sue said I did the right thing,leave them with their dreams "The time they were on holiday with Santa Claus..........."

11-29-2008, 09:19 PM
Wonderful story Brian, that's what Christmas is all about, helping to make
the children happy, - and really, "There is a Santa Claus" !!!!!!!!.

Bob F :handclap: :handclap:

captain kong
11-30-2008, 09:56 AM
I was staying on the old Queen Mary in Long Beach, CAL. two years ago this coming January.
I saw a Father Christmas and then I saw another and another, then there were hundreds of them I was surrounded. I thought I was in a place where they dump all the Father Christmas`s every year. or I had had too much Rum.
or I was in a place where they put people who do not put money in the collection boxes and then they are haunted by Father Christmas`s Past.
I was the only man on board who did not look like a Father Christmas.
I grabbed hold of one and asked what was going on. It was a convention of Father Chrismas`s from all over the States, they meet up every year after Christmas.
Here is one of them. Father Christmas is the one in the middle.

11-30-2008, 06:22 PM
I was surrounded by Santas in Manhattan once, a huge team of them!! They had just finished their training it seems:)

11-30-2008, 06:25 PM
I had dinner on Queen Mary in Long Beach two years ago too!!!:PDT_Aliboronz_24:

12-02-2008, 04:25 PM
As always happens, I was searching for something and found something else.
I wrote a poem when on the Benefactor in the early 80s. Times were hard for shipping companies and Harrison Line were down to 9 ships, Astronomer, Adviser, Author, Strategist, Specialist, Warrior, Wanderer, Wayfarer, and the 'Beni'.
These replaced much smaller general cargo ships. Fewer staff due to advances in technology and the increasing use of automation. Staff were on reduced pay when leave was over and no ship was available - this was called retention.

Some of this is as relevant today as it was then. I was made redundant in 1983. Harrison's ceased trading in 2002.

That should be enough info for you to understand the poem. I left it behind on the Beni and someone sent it to the company, who published it in the company newsletter of June 1983. My name wasn't on it and it was attributed to 'The Beni Poet Laureate'. What I've found is the original, plus the newsletter it was in.

Changing Times
Two S's, three A's
Three W's too
Plus the old Beni
The numbers are few

Twenty-nine ships
When I first joined the line
The twenty have gone
Which leaves us with nine

Automation is here
It's a push-button life
But try telling that
To the redundant man's wife

The wastage is great
In men and machines
And I dread to consider
The out of work teens

Tory or labour
They're both just the same
It's a world-wide recession
Who knows who to blame?

But there's hope in the future
We're building new ships
Will retention be over
By their maiden trips?

So let's hope for more charters
At favourable rates
And future employment
For all our shipmates

captain kong
12-02-2008, 04:29 PM
Very good Kevin.
I guess they call it progress.
Like the old days
ten men for five mens jobs.
How did the reunion go last week ??

12-02-2008, 04:37 PM
Very good Kevin.
I guess they call it progress.
Like the old days
ten men for five mens jobs.
How did the reunion go last week ??

Apparently there were nearly 200 hundred at the meal at the Adelphi. I was at a funeral in Woolton and then went to the Crown for 2.30. Saw lots of old friends but it was quite scary - guys I'd know when in their 30s and 40s, in their prime, were now in their 60s and 70s.
Resurrected a few old friendships and been in touch with them again already. Looking forward to next year's do.

Just realised that I was looking in the wrong newsletter. The poem was published in May '82, not June '83. When the poem was publsihed the Benefactor had already been sold.

brian daley
12-02-2008, 06:46 PM
Brilliant poem Kevin and so apt for today,nothing changes except our bodies, gone are those lissome youths of yesteryear, like our jobs it's all gone south!

brian daley
12-10-2008, 04:04 PM
Robert Service was noted among roughnecks for his Songs of a Sourdough,with Eskimo Nell and the Ballad of Dan Mcgrew being among their number,but here he is with a poem of a more whimsical nature ,composed when he was sailing to London....


We'd left the sea-gulls long behind
And we were almost in mid-ocean,
The sky was soft and blue and kind,
The boat had scarcely any motion;
Except that songfully it sped,
And sheared the foam swift as an arroww....
There fluttered down a city sparrow.

I stared with something of surprise;
That apparition mocked my seeming;
In fact I gently rubbed my eyes
And wondered if I were not dreaming.
It must, I mused , at Montreal
Have hopped aboard,somewhere to nestle,
And failed to heed the warning call
For visitors to leave the vessel.

Well,anyway a bird it was
With winky eyes and wings a-twitter,
Unwise to migration Laws,
From Canada a hardy flitter;
And as it hopped about the deck,
So happily I wondered wether
It was'nt scramming from Quebec
For Londons mild and moister weather.

My rovers' heart went out to it,
That vain ,vivacious little devil;
And as I watched it hop and flit
I hoped it would not come to evil ,
It planed above the plangent sea
( A foolish flight ,I'd never risk it )
And then it circled back to me
And from my palm picked crumbs of biscuit.

Well,voyages come to an end
(We make them with that understanding)
One morn I missed my feathered friend,
And hope it made a happy landing.
Oh may she ever happy be
(It t'was a she) with eggs to it on,
And rest on our side of the sea,
A brave ,brown ,cheery, chirping Briton.

- Robert Service

captain kong
12-10-2008, 05:37 PM
Does anyone know of the one by Robert Service,
The Barmaids Lament.... about her and her Sailor lover.
some of the verse goes like this.........
He lies beside me in my bed
Upon my breast he lays his head
Oh how I wish that I were dead
For he sails in the morning.

I feel his baby in my womb
in his life we have no room

for he sails in the morning.

Reminds me of a beautiful barmaid, Mary, I once knew many , many years ago.Lovely girl.

captain kong
12-10-2008, 08:40 PM
Wreck of the Hesperus
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That one in the month of May.

The Skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now West, now South.

Then up and spake an old Sailor,
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee, put into yonder port,
for I fear a hurricane.

"Last night the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper, he blew whiff from his pipe,
And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast.

Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;
The shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,
And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
That ever wind did blow."

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church bells ring,
Oh, say, what may it be?"
"Tis a fog-bell on a rock bound coast!" --
And he steered for the open sea.

"O father! I hear the sound of guns;
Oh, say, what may it be?"
Some ship in distress, that cannot live
In such an angry sea!"

"O father! I see a gleaming light.
Oh say, what may it be?"
But the father answered never a word,
A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
That saved she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,
On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf,
On the rocks and hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
Lashed close to a drifting mast.

The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed,
On the billows fall and rise.

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
On the reef of Norman's Woe!

brian daley
12-10-2008, 10:43 PM
Oh Captain Cong,what a poem,and one I cannot read without hearing the parodies that countless comedians have done on it over the years.Nevertheless,it stillhas the power to move one if read slowly and without distraction.

brian daley
12-10-2008, 11:10 PM
And ,whilst the Muse is now upon us ,let favour her with abit of Masefield.......

A Wanderers Song

A winds in the heart of me ,a fire's in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon wheels;
I hunger for the seas edge, the limit of the land,
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.

Oh I'll be going,leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail -foot is yanking at the sheet;
To a windy,tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh I'll be going ,going,until I meet the tide.

And first I'll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls,
The clucking ,sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls,
The songs at the capstan at the hooker warping out,
And then the heart of me'll know I'm there or thereabout.

Oh I am sick of brick and stone,the heart of me is sick,
For windy green, unquiet sea,the realm of Moby Dick;
And I'll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels,
For a wind's in the heart of me , a fire's in my heels.
John Masefield

Just reading that again brings back the sound of the wind in the halyards and the steady thrumming of the engine as we head into a Nor'wester on the way to New York. White horses ride the wave tops and the sea is cobalt beneath a blue denim sky. 8 bells are ringing and it'll soon be time for breakfast, oh brother ,take me home ,take me back to sea.!!

captain kong
12-11-2008, 12:14 PM

In December, 1953 on the New Zealand Star
In East London we did stay
but Ken Hignett and I
didn`t know he would die
on some beach called Bonza Bay.

The story began
when the Mission Man
said he would take us away for the day
so all of us went off on his bus
to a beach called Bonza Bay

When Ken jumped in
he just couldn`t swim
and the tide soon carried him away.
Though I struggled and tried
Ken drowned and then died
near a beach called Bonza Bay

Then I was seen on a wave
by a lad named Dave
who swam out to get me away
and through struggle and strife
that lad saved my life
on a beach called Bonza Bay

When Ken washed ashore
his life was no more
Five days since he got swept away
and he lay all alone
on the the sand and the stone
on a beach called Bonza Bay

So they buried Ken in a Sailors grave
at a place where the palm trees sway,
on a foreign strand
in a far off land
near a beach called Bonza Bay

It`s been 50 years
since the grief and the tears
and in the time that I was away
I found Ken`s Grave
and the man named Dave
near a beach called Bonza Bay

01-17-2009, 05:01 AM
The following was sent to me by the wife of a very good friend of mine,- a
Canadian Regimental Sergeant Major, who returned from a tour of duty in Egypt as RSM of the Multinational Peackeeping Force recently.

The Anzac on the Wall

I wandered thru a country town 'cos I had time to spare,
And went into an antique shop to see what was in there.
Old Bikes and pumps and kero lamps, but hidden by it all,
A photo of a soldier boy - an Anzac on the Wall.

"The Anzac have a name?" I asked. The old man answered "No,.
The ones who could have told me mate, have passed on long ago.
The old man kept on talking and, according to his tale,
The photo was unwanted junk bought from a clearance sale.

"I asked around," the old man said, "but no one knows his face,
He's been on that wall twenty years, deserves a better place.
For some one must have loved him so, it seems a shame somehow."
I nodded in agreement and then said, "I'll take him now."

My nameless digger's photo, well it was a sorry sight
A cracked glass pane and a broken frame - I had to make it right
To prise the photo from its frame I took care just in case,
"Cause only sticky paper held the cardboard back in place.

I peeled away the faded screed and much to my surprise,
Two letters and a telegram appeared before my eyes
The first reveals my Anzac's name, and regiment of course
John Mathew Francis Stuart - of Australia's own Light Horse.

This letter written from the front, my interest now was keen
This note was dated August seventh 1917
"Dear Mum, I'm at Khalasa Springs not far from the Red Sea
They say it's in the Bible - looks like Billabong to me.

"My Kathy wrote I'm in her prayers she's still my bride to be
I just cant wait to see you both you're all the world to me
And Mum you'll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out
I told him to call on you when he's up and about."

"That bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny
He lobbed a Turkish hand grenade into the Co's dunny.
I told you how he dragged me wounded in from no man's land
He stopped the bleeding closed the wound with only his bare hand."

"Then he copped it at the front from some stray shrapnel blast
It was my turn to drag him in and I thought he wouldn't last
He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind

Cause out there on the battlefield he'd left one leg behind."

"He's been in a bad way mum, he knows he'll ride no more
Like me he loves a horse's back he was a champ before.
So Please Mum can you take him in, he's been like my brother
Raised in a Queensland orphanage he' s never known a mother."

But Struth, I miss Australia mum, and in my mind each day
I am a mountain cattleman on high plains far away
I'm mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel's hump in sight
And I waltz my Matilda by a campfire every night

I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down
I'll always love you and please say hooroo to all in town".
The second letter I could see was in a lady's hand
An answer to her soldier son there in a foreign land

Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean
It bore the date November 3rd 1917.
"T'was hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war
I'd hoped you would be home by now - each day I miss you more"

"Your Kathy calls around a lot since you have been away
To share with me her hopes and dreams about your wedding day
And Bluey has arrived - and what a godsend he has been
We talked and laughed for days about the things you've done and seen"

"He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm,
I read the same hope in his eyes that you wont come to harm.
Mc Connell's kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed
We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange."
"Last Wednesday just on midnight, not a single cloud in sight
It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright
It really spooked your Billy - and he screamed and bucked and reared
And then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared"

"They brought him back next afternoon, but something's changed I fear
It's like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near
Remember when you caught him with his black and flowing mane?
Now Horse breakers fear the beast that only you can tame,"
"That's why we need you home son" - then the flow of ink went dry-
This letter was unfinished, and I couldn't work out why.
Until I started reading the letter number three
A yellow telegram delivered news of tragedy
Her son killed in action - oh - what pain that must have been
The Same date as her letter - 3rd November 17
This letter which was never sent, became then one of three
She sealed behind the photo's face - the face she longed to see.

And John's home town's old timers -children when he went to war
Would say no greater cattleman had left the town before.
They knew his widowed mother well - and with respect did tell
How when she lost her only boy she lost her mind as well.
She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak
"My Johnny's at the war you know , he's coming home next week."
They all remembered Bluey he stayed on to the end
A younger man with wooden leg became her closest friend

And he would go and find her when she wandered old and weak
And always softly say "yes dear - John will be home next week."
Then when she died Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say
I tried to find out where he went, but dont know to this day
And Kathy never wed - a lonely spinster some found odd
She wouldn't set foot in a church - she'd turned her back on God
John's mother left no will I learned on my detective trail
This explains my photo's journey, that clearance sale
So I continued digging cause I wanted to know more
I found John's name with thousands in the records of the war
His last ride proved his courage - a ride you will acclaim
The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba of everlasting fame

That last day in October back in 1917
At 4pm our brave boys fell - that sad fact I did glean
That's when John's life was sacrificed, the record's crystal clear
But 4pm in Beersheba is midnight over here.......
So as John's gallant sprit rose to cross the great divide
Were lightning bolts back home a signal from the other side?
Is that why Billy bolted and went racing as in pain?
Because he'd never feel his master on his back again?
Was it coincidental? same time - same day - same date?

Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?
I think it's more than that, you know, as I've heard wiser men,
Acknowledge there are many things that go beyond our ken

Where craggy peaks guard secrets neath dark skies torn asunder
Where hoofbeats are companions to the rolling waves of thunder
Where lightning cracks like 303's and ricochets again
Where howling moaning gusts of wind sound just like dying men
Some Mountain cattlemen have sworn on lonely alpine track
They've glimpsed a huge black stallion - Light Horseman on his back.

Yes Sceptics say, it's swirling clouds just forming apparitions
Oh no, my friend you cant dismiss all this as superstition
The desert of Beersheba - or windswept Aussie range
John Stuart rides forever there - Now I dont find that strange.
Now some gaze at this photo, and they often question me
And I tell them a small white lie, and say he's family.
"You must be proud of him." they say - I tell them, one and all,
That's why he takes the pride of place - my Anzac on the Wall

Author unknown.

Bob F :002::PDT_Xtremez_12:

brian daley
01-17-2009, 09:27 AM
Bob,...........that was so moving, the words went right to my heart. I can see that sepia photograph hanging on the wall, and all the broken dreams that lay behind it. thank you for sharing it with us.

captain kong
01-17-2009, 07:27 PM
That brought a tear to my eyes. so sad.and so inspiring.
I feel I knew John.

Jeff Glasser
01-17-2009, 08:10 PM
How moving was Bobs' poem. It reminded me of one that I came across years ago by a Flt Lt. J.N. Wortley RAFVR. It comes to mind, as an aviator, every time I look up at aircraft vapour trails in the sky. It relates to the Battle of Britain fighter pilots.

'Vapour Trails'

Mischevious, laughing boys, who grew

To quick manhood, to be 'The Few

Who flew above all human call

Through Summer's height to Autumn's fall,

Infring'd the sanctity of space

In freedom's name- and died in grace;

Falling like leaves upon the Weald

To russet-spot an English field,

Their brief gay valiant season spent

For us. Our task, their Monument,

Nature herself has taken o'er

And has decreed for evermore,

'The Few shall be remembered by

White chalk marks in a Summer sky.

captain kong
01-17-2009, 10:48 PM


Also this is a good one

01-21-2009, 12:42 AM
>From The Queen's Royal Lancers Website:

Goodbye to my England, So long my old friend
Your days are numbered, being brought to an end
To be Scottish, Irish or Welsh that's fine
But don't say you're English, that's way out of line.

The French and the Germans may call themselves such
So may Norwegians, the Swedes and the Dutch
You can say you are Russian or maybe a Dane
But don't say you're English ever again.

At Broadcasting House the word is taboo
In Brussels it's scrapped, in Parliament too
Even schools are affected, staff do as they're told
They must not teach children about England of old.

Writers like Shakespeare, Milton and Shaw
The pupils don't learn about them anymore
How about Agincourt, Hastings , Arnhem or Mons ?
When England lost hosts of her very brave sons.

We are not Europeans, how can we be?
Europe is miles away over the sea
We're the English from England, let's all be proud
Stand up and be counted - Shout it out loud !

Let's tell our Government and Brussels too
We're proud of our heritage and the Red, White and Blue
Fly the flag of Saint George or the Union Jack
Let the world know - WE WANT OUR ENGLAND BACK !!!!
If you are English pass it on please

Bob F :handclap: :handclap: :handclap: :PDT_Aliboronz_24:

Jeff Glasser
01-22-2009, 05:20 PM
How sad, how true.

Hav'nt returned to this thread for a few days as I did'nt tick the e-mail notification bit. doh!

captain kong
01-22-2009, 08:50 PM
The Greenland Whale Fishery - folksong
this version 1906, there are many versions that differ in details and order of verses

'Twas eighteen hundred and twenty four,
On March the eighteenth day,
We hoist our colours to the top of the mast,
And to Greenland bore away, brave boys,
And to Greenland bore away.

Oh, the look-out up on the mainmast stood
With a spy-glass in his hand.
'There's a whale, there's a whale, and a whale-fish,' he cried.
And she blows at every span, brave boys,
And she blows at every span.'

The captain stood on the quarterdeck,
And the ice was in his eye.
'Overhaul, overhaul, let your jib-sheet fall,
And put your boats to sea, brave boys,
And put your boats to sea!'

Oh, the boats got down and the men aboard,
And the whale was full in view.
Resolved, resolved was each whalerman bold
To steer where the whale-fish blew, brave boys,
To steer where the whale-fish blew.

Now the harpoon struck and the lines played out,
But she gave such a flourish with her tail,
She capsized our boat and we lost five men,
And we could not catch that whale, brave boys,
And we could not catch that whale.

Oh, the losing of that sperm-whale fish
It grieved our captain sore,
But the losing of those five jolly tars,
Oh, it grieved him ten times more, brave boys,
Oh, it grieved him ten times more.

'Up anchor now,' the captain cried,
'For the winter's star do appear,
It is time for to leave this cold country,
And for England we will steer, brave boys,
And for England we will steer.'

Oh, Greenland is a barren place,
It's a place that bears no green,
Where there's ice and snow, and the whale-
And the daylight's seldom seen, brave boys,
And the daylight's seldom seen.

from the Cool Antarctica site.

captain kong
09-27-2010, 01:33 PM
What an excellent poem Ken, I could feel the atmosphere, it brings the picture of the convoys right into the home. hard times and brave men,
most of todays younger generation and the polititions just dont care, very sad.
I will save this to my collection.

09-27-2010, 01:38 PM
"A destroyer dashing down the line like a sheepdog with its flock."

I especially like this 'picture'.

Good on ye Ken. :)

captain kong
09-27-2010, 05:36 PM
Thanks again Ken,
I could realy feel the deck move, the sounds of the sea as it smashes against the bow, taste the salt on my lips as I tried to get off the focsle head to the bridge at 2.30 am as she started to ship green ones over whilst on look out. Thanks for the memory.

09-27-2010, 06:40 PM
Hi Ken

Your poems capture the feel and the sights of life at sea. Well done. Enjoyed.


captain kong
09-28-2010, 10:47 AM
Hi Ken
your "In The Stokehold" reminded me of when I was Fireman on a coal burner, one of Savages, Zillah Steamship Co, the "BEACHFIELD".
A great Poem brought it all back, I could taste the ash and coal dust, feel the heat and sweat.

Here is a piece from the account of the voyage in `Ships and the Sea` thread..........................

..........Then he got rid of the Mad Irish Fireman, he was in the focsle and started an argument with the coal bogey and because it would not stand up and fight he kicked the crap out of it, flaming coals and hot ash and smoke was all over the focsle, fire was burning every where. We had to leap up on deck and throw a heaving line with a bucket attached over the side and the pass the bucket of water down the hatch to pour on the flames. After a few of these the focsle was full of smoke and steam.
"That`ll teach the ba5tard not to fight wid me". said Paddy
The Captain kicked him down the gangway. I was going to follow, `I`ll promote you to Fireman` said Captain Marshall, `it is a good experience`.
It sure was, four hours on and four hours off, two furnaces, do your own trimming. Feed `em, throw a pitch on, a little twist of the wrist and jerk and spread the coal evenly across the fires, rake and slice, dump your own ashes at the end of the four hour watch, keep her on the blood, 180 psi, and watch the water level, I got myself a belt with the buckle at the back. A buckle at the front could blister your belly with heat of the furnace on the metal. No lights down there, just the light from the flames in the furnace, like something out of Dante. After dumping the ashes and handing over with a load of coal on the plates for the next man it would be twenty minutes later, then fight my way forard between the waves and then crash on my filthy mattress still covered in ash and coal dust, at seven bells, three hours later, get down to the galley have a bacon butty and then stagger down the fiddly to the furnaces...................

09-28-2010, 11:11 AM
There is ever a sense of the beast about steam. I always looked upon Waverley station Edinburgh as a stable for dragons. But, to have control of such a beast on the wide sea that must be something indeed.
By the by, I have been reading lately in the papers about the 'unsinkable', with learned seafarers expounding on matters of the helm. They talk of confusion between tiller and wheel steering, the development of sonar after the iceberg and of the many lives saved because of those many lives lost.

brian daley
09-28-2010, 11:41 AM
Hi Brian and Ken,
Poetry and prose, some marvellous pieces there, you each, in your own way, captured the the moments as ancient amber captured those creatures so long ago. I was there with you both, could feel the heat as you fed the fires, feel the gentle rise and fall of the ship as she made progress through the lazy swells.
thank you

captain kong
09-29-2010, 08:22 PM
Another good one Ken.

Isnt Seafaring a wonderful profession, Men can write stories, poems, books and films all about it.
Imagine being a plasterer, a plumber, or bricky or stood behind a machine in a factory. We never hear poems of those jobs,
Sorry for any of those trades people , no wish to offend but are there any yarns, books, poems etc of those trades?

brian daley
09-29-2010, 10:41 PM
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists! Saturday Night and Sunday Morning,
How Green was my Valley,The Stars looked Down

09-30-2010, 04:06 PM
A prize on the docks.

Kitty's Amelia, a cable fastened to the quayside,
A rope, rough-fibred, and arched to a mooring post,
The strain 'eaved through the yellow stone copings,
golden they sat regally over the dock's kiln-fired bricks,

Factory mills spun cotton shirts for African princes,
glass beads, cuttlasses, fine wines, spirits and guns,
Weeks of provisioning, water line rising over copper,
Commodities themselves innocent until next port,

Sun sets starboard, misery beyond the bow spirit,
Inequitable imbalance, a market sale of humanity,
White castles, white sands, white sails, black ivory,
A dark, rolling prison, dusty shafts of light, stench,

The passage, groaning, sickness, death, salt spray,
The West Indies, a paradise, yes...but sadly lost,
Fear the hold, tis a dreaded place, cargo for a cargo,
Homeward bound, privateer's clear, profits in sight.

[The Kitty's Amelia was the last slave ship to leave Liverpool on 27th July, 1807. She was also a 'prize ship' ie: captured by another. In this case by the ship Kitty. The Amelia was then renamed Kitty's Amelia as part of her new owners claim.]

captain kong
09-30-2010, 08:22 PM
Here is one I found in the magazine, Ships, author unknown.

"I shall acknowledge old age
when the call of the far wild seas
no longer stir my blood.
When I shall not see as a boy would see
the beauty of a homeward bound ship
harbouring on the flood.

Only then will I sit in the lee of the Harbour wall
conjuring up dreams from the River`s mist.
Only then will I weep an old man`s tears
for times that I have known,
and for lips that I have left unkissed,

brian daley
09-30-2010, 08:24 PM

Stunning,each word crafted wih lapidarian skill;a shining jewel of a poem with a very barbed message. I read this at an opportune moment;just started to read The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. It opens with this clerihew by Jonathan Swift :-

So geographers, in Afric maps,
With savage-pictures fill their gaps;
And o'er uninhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
--- Jonathan Swift

captain kong
09-30-2010, 08:27 PM
Talking of Africa here is a poem about a young lady in Apapa Nigeria who some of us have actually met, Miss Tombo Mary.
unfortunately I cant remebmer who wrote it

On the coast of Africa where tourists never tour,

The bar was Tombo Mary's where she ruled the roost all day,

Customers were seafarers - keen to spend their pay.

In this one-roomed shanty, with hard mud for a floor,

(Palm fronds on the thatched roof and canvas for a door),

Our black mama Mary - a wondrous female sight,

Would choose a handy sailor for her carnal joys at night.

Raised up on a dias just behind the bar,

(The centre of attention from here to Calabar),

Was a huge four poster bed with linen and fine lace,

Imported from some far off land and taking pride of place.

It`s where Mary held her lover-boy for a torrid night of fun.

Piccaninnies and the bar staff - at the setting of the sun -

Would sleep below this raft of love,with tassels hanging red,

While the sailor did his duty - in Tombo Mary's bed.

09-30-2010, 10:19 PM
Thanks Brian, great encouragement. I haven't read Hill's The Book of Negroes yet. Another to add to my wish list of must read classics.

I love Swift's first two lines:

"So geographers, in Afric maps,
With savage-pictures fill their gaps"

...which goes to prove that the greatest fears live in unchartered places.

10-01-2010, 04:35 PM
Well done Ken, excellent work. I too was in the water after reading that. It has to be the greatest fear of most people - to die by drowning. And not only that...

A black night, with icy waters, abandoned...what could be worse? And to think so many sailors must have suffered this fate.

Thanks for posting,


captain kong
10-01-2010, 07:33 PM
Another excellent poem, Ken.

I experienced drowning once.

We were in East London, in the Eastern Cape in South Africa in 1953 on the New Zealand Star.
Sunday 13 December 1953. The Mission Man took us and some of the Mission girls to Bonza Bay for a picnic.
Ken Hignet SOS aged 20,of Mill Cottage, 1, Mill Road, Birkenhead couldnt swim and got into difficulties with the strong current and was swept away. I went to assist him and we were both swept out to sea.
The big Cape rollers got bigger and bigger,I was hanging on to him trying to get back to the beach, it was like being inside a washing machine, We were gulping water down and coughing our lungs up as we tried to surface before the next big sea hit us and forced us under again. It was a battle for survival, then Ken died and I lost his body, His last words were just "Help, Help, Help." then he was gone.The cramps started to go into my legs and then my arms, I was in a no survive situation as my vision started to go, just being swirled around in the raging sea.and then blackness.
Meanwhile a South African lad, David Brinton had seen it happening and he swam out with a life buoy on a line, he got me and I was towed unconcious, back to the beach.they gave me some rescusitation and the mission man took me to hospital where I was put to bed to recover. I came out two days later and taken back to the ship, we sailed to Durban and then to New Zealand. I never knew who had saved my life. Ken was washed up five days later and buried in the East Cemetery in East London.
48 years later as I was getting older I decided to find the lad who saved me to thank him before it was too late. In 2001, I went to East London to try and find him and also Kens grave. I found the grave, that was another experience, for a later date. he was there.
I had asked to Salvation Army if they could help to trace David Brinton,
When I got home The Salvation Army phoned me to say they had found him, He was living in Stranraer in Scotland after living in the Cape then Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe. Then one day the phone rang and it was Esther Rantzen of the BBC, TV, asking me to go on her show. So on 14 February, 2002, I went on the show at the TV Studio in London and she introduced me to David Brinton, what a wonderful feeling it was to be able to thank him after more than 48 years. We still keep in touch, what a brave lad he was.
I wrote a poem about it, not very good but the best I could do.


In December, 1953 on the New Zealand Star
In East London we did stay
but Ken Hignett and I
didn`t know he would die
on some beach called Bonza Bay.

The story began
when the Mission Man
said he would take us away for the day
so all of us went off on his bus
to a beach called Bonza Bay

When Ken jumped in
he just couldn`t swim
and the tide soon carried him away.
Though I struggled and tried
Ken drowned and then died
near a beach called Bonza Bay

Then I was seen on a wave
by a lad named Dave
who swam out to get me away
and through struggle and strife
that lad saved my life
on a beach called Bonza Bay

When Ken washed ashore
his life was no more
Five days since he got swept away
and he lay all alone
on the the sand and the stone
on a beach called Bonza Bay

So they buried Ken in a Sailors grave
at a place where the palm trees sway,
on a foreign strand
in a far off land
near a beach called Bonza Bay

It`s been 50 years
since the grief and the tears
and in the time that I was away
I found Ken`s Grave
and the man named Dave
near a beach called Bonza Bay

1, The Rescue, 2, Ken`s grave in East London 2001. and 3, Ken, Me and below Mo Riley AB. 7 days before on Sunday 6 December 1953 in Cape Town.
Attached Thumbnails


10-02-2010, 01:22 AM
What a traumatic experience to have lived through Brian. You're lucky to come out of the other side of it, thanks to your rescuer. Something like this, I imagine, must change your life, or at least make you question your life's purpose? It was good that you got an opportunity to see his grave in East London and pay your respects.

Thanks for the poem and photos.


10-19-2010, 01:11 AM
Terrific, Ken. I am glad I decided to check in again. I will hang around a little longer (with Father Time's cooperation.)

02-22-2011, 04:30 PM
Poem...`Heed me boy` !

Heed me boy !

Here`s a boy, face full of hope,
first time away to a sea.
Eyes shining with wonder and pride,
heart bursting with ecstacy.

Home far behind, folks out of mind,
since this ship sailed away from a quay.
Head filled up with a great wide world,
eyes filled up with a sea.

Look hard boy, take it all in,
dream while you have the chance.
Before you`re through with this sea of yours,
she`ll lead you a merry dance.

Gaze at your far horizons,
feel like a lord of the earth.
Before you`re done, this sea you crave,
will make you prove your worth.

See your visions, dream your dreams,
feel high and free and fine.
Steer your ship `cross oceans wide,
take her `across a line`.

But heed me boy and know for sure,
you will not dream for long.
This sea you`re on has varied ways,
and can sing many a different song.

Just now she`s quiet and gentle,
and weaves around you her spell.
But give her time, she`ll change her tune,
and you`ll think you`ve arrived at Hell.

Wait for shrieking storm and raging sea`s,
wait for tumult all around.
A violent heaving pitching world,
mind battered with thunderous sound.

Wait `till you`re picked up by a sea
and carried hard against a rail.
Or swept struggling along a heaving deck,
when all your efforts fail.

Wait `till you know touch of scorching steel,
wait `till you feel searing cold.
There`ll be times when you melt in sweltering heat,
and times when the ice takes hold.

You`ll taste fear, you`ll know despair,
you`ll feel you`re on your own.
A lonely speck upon an endless sea,
a boy far away from home.

See your visions, dream your dreams,
take it easy while you can.
Take a long hard look at this sea of yours,
for she`ll make a boy a man.

So heed me boy, listen hard,
and take in what I say.
Know for sure these things will come,
so dream now whilst you may.

Copyright !

captain kong
02-22-2011, 07:41 PM
Excellent, that says it as it is, very true.
Thanks for the memory.

Brian Okie
12-13-2011, 12:35 PM
Brian Jacques:

Once upon a time, back in those sweltering days before the flood
When children's ideas of fun and games were shaped by Hollywood
A ragged band of Cowboys and Indians crossed the great divide
From Lambeth Road they swaggered and strode and soon were safe inside
Stanley Park, the home of bowling greens, orderly gardens, lakes and ducks and mud
A young boy stood and looked up at the red sandstone wall
And from somewhere far away a siren voice began to call
A world of creatures great and small began to form in his imagination
An artist's palette of colours gave him an inspiration
And a talent to amuse and educate became his life's vocation

I wrote this for my old friend 'Jake' a few years back. Cheers, Brian Okie

12-13-2011, 01:11 PM
:handclap: Thanks for your post. It's a very nice poem.

Brian Jacques is missed.

12-13-2011, 01:44 PM
Brian Jacques:

Once upon a time, back in those sweltering days before the flood
When children's ideas of fun and games were shaped by Hollywood
A ragged band of Cowboys and Indians crossed the great divide
From Lambeth Road they swaggered and strode and soon were safe inside
Stanley Park, the home of bowling greens, orderly gardens, lakes and ducks and mud
A young boy stood and looked up at the red sandstone wall
And from somewhere far away a siren voice began to call
A world of creatures great and small began to form in his imagination
An artist's palette of colours gave him an inspiration
And a talent to amuse and educate became his life's vocation

I wrote this for my old friend 'Jake' a few years back. Cheers, Brian Okie

Very nice, Brian. Thanks for sharing this with us. Brian Jacques (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/arts/09jacques.html) is new to me as a writer. I am glad to learn about him and his writing.


Brian Okie
12-13-2011, 04:58 PM
Thanks lindylou and Chris. Here's another one:


My dad came to Liverpool when he was just a lad
On the boat from Ireland escaping from what was bad
So it's him I have to thank for all I am today
But still the nagging doubt remains
That I'd have been a Yank if he'd sailed the other way....

12-13-2011, 05:03 PM
Brian Jacques was a great Liverpool character - very entertaining to listen to him when he was on the radio every Sunday afternoon. He loved music as well as the written word, he had typical Liverpool wit. :) He used to visit schools for readings and poetry sessions. A really nice man.
As I say, he is greatly missed.