1936 - Mallory is the captain of a tramp ship. Up to his eyes in hock he takes his ship 'Aspatria' anywhere he can to make a quick buck. Crewed by reprobates like Macpherson the homicidal Gorbals bosun, Auntie Joan the transvestite third engineer and "Fingers" Nestorowicz the digit-deprived Polish cook in carpet slippers, the ship oil slicks its way around the salubrious coasts of the world, getting into one hilarious scrape after another. Join our gallant captain and his sea mongrels for a ripping yarn of adventure and romance on the high seas.
Now available on AMAZON KINDLE Books
Sunday, 24 February 2013
The new book is coming along and should be available to download on Kindle sometime in late March.
Unfortunately, I am currently being sidetracked and reading an excellent Kindle book called 'A Floating Home' by J.B.Atkins and Cyril Ionides. It is unusual in that it was written in 1916 and describes a family who were struggling to afford both housing and private schooling for their children. They hit upon the idea of buying a working Thames sailing barge and converting it to a home. Although not unusual these days, during the Great War, it would have been a head-turning event.
The author talks about 'Water-sense'. He said 'In many people the sight of water responds to some fundamental need of the mind - when they are away from water they are vaguely uncomfortable, perhaps feeling that the road of freedom and escape is cut off'.
I think most of us who have lived, worked or played on the water can empathise with this. Certainly here in the UK, where you are never far from water, whether it is a lake, canal, river or the coast. I get very ratty if I don't see an expanse of water every few days or so and have always put it down to the fact that the average human is about 60% water and there is some psychological need.
For those of you not acquainted with these beautiful boats, they were designed to carry cargo around the shallow and broken east coast of England. They are shallow draft, can be handled by two crew, often husband and wife and luckily, there are still a few of them around.
If you are interested in learning more about these barges, this is a good link:
Saturday, 26 January 2013
The sequel 'The Surge of The Sea' opens with Aspatria discharging cargo in the port of Marseille.
Marseille has changed in the last 80 years and many of the commercial ship repair facilities and yards have switched to becoming repair stops for luxury yachts.
I was there recently and it was very cold I can tell you. Despite beautiful blue skies, temperatures hovered around freezing point and there was ice on the deck. The 'Mistral' wind whistled across the open spaces of the port and left white horses on the sea outside the breakwater. The wind chill made it seem even colder than it was.
Just as well Mallory was there later in the season !!
Sunday, 6 January 2013
Work on the sequel to 'The Pull of The Tide' has fared rather better than expected and the Kindle edition will be available earlier. It was originally scheduled for April 2013.
'The Surge of The Sea' is set in the Mediterranean nearly a year after the first novel. The book opens in Marseille, France and "Slammer" Jenkins is celebrating his 18th birthday. The crew decide to give him a rather unusual present and it's not long before their collective nose for trouble has got them involved in an international scandal of potentially gigantic proportions.
The second book still revolves around the dysfunctional crew of the tramp ship Aspatria and their long-suffering captain, but the plot is slightly darker and more sinister as they grow closer to the start of the Second World War.
Although 'The Surge of The Sea' could be read as your first Mallory book, it is recommended that 'The Pull of The Tide' is read first as the stories are very intertwined.
The second novel also has more adult content and reader discretion is advised.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
This is a short story from the Mallory series of books which is set between the end of 'The Pull of The Tide' and the sequel, 'The Surge of The Sea'...
Hong Kong - New Years Eve 1936
Thursday, 20 December 2012
You can smell real fur in the church.
Inuit celebrate Christmas in a slightly different way to Europeans. Nothing much grows in the Arctic so you have to adapt your customs and celebrations to suit.
Its cold but dry - minus 30 Degrees Centigrade. Howling dogs, steaming breath, strings of fairy lights across the multi-coloured corrugated tin shacks.
The community gathers in the village meeting place. Outside there are sledges and their dogs, tied up, having brought their masters into town. Dogs that can pull their sled 100 miles a day, for a whole week if necessary. Inside, there is the staccato chatter of Inuktitut, the local language. Here the people are connected to the land and more importantly, the sea. It's their provider - without the sea, they would starve. Its creatures provide them with sustenance and the Inuit are grateful. They practised conservation long before the Europeans invented the word. Take what you need and leave what you don't to conserve stocks, as they also have a right to live . Kill mercifully to survive but be respectful of the sacrifice, as the animal gave its life so that the Inuit may live.
The Inuit gather, women in amautis with round faced babies. The hunters arrive, laden with the fruits of their labours. Some fresh from the ice laden water and some still frozen from their underground stores. Makeshift tables are erected and the community pool their food for a seasonal feast. Seal, Walrus, Narwhal fin, Char, Caribou. The seafood is raw and chewy but the Inuit have good teeth.
A couple of teenage girls start to sing katajjaq, Inuit throat singing. The hypnotic rhythmic song flickers from one girl to the other as they compete with other. The pace quickens as the two girls stand facing each other, holding on to the others arms for support. They rock gently together as they sing, the competition intensifying. Just as you start to drift, entranced by the almost tribal sounds, they stop abruptly and laugh together. One has run out of breath, the other is the victor.
An accordion is produced, strangely out of place here. Brought to these shores by a long dead sailor, the instrument is squeezed back into life. An old man with a lined brown face, sad eyes and a beard consisting of no more than 10 black hairs sings a slow mournful song. He sings from his memories, the days when he would travel for days just to hunt, paddling his kayak and pitting his wits against his prey on an equal footing. He sings of huge whales, roaming proud and free. He sings of lost friends, drowned by the animal they pursued. Crushed by the downward slam of an angry fluke.
The accordion picks up a faster beat, the mood lightens and small drums start up on the other side of the room. Hunters get to their feet and shuffle and hop their way around the room in a jig, their movement limited by their heavy sealskin boots.
The room is warm, faces are smiling and bellies are full. Most importantly, the village is united and they rejoice in the strength of community, giving thanks for another year of survival.
Monday, 17 December 2012
Hailing from Sunderland, Ordinary Seaman Paterson is described as wearing a gap-toothed smile and a flat cap the size of a dinner plate. Dubbed "Geordie" by his shipmates, he always maintains that the nickname is a deliberate insult as he isn't from Newcastle. Few of the crew know the difference.
Uncouth and ignorant, Paterson shares a cabin with a Capuchin monkey called Neville. "Geordie" rescued the monkey from South America when he saw 'Neville' imprisoned in a wooden cage by Amazonian natives. Afraid that they would eat the primate, he bought him in exchange for a Sunderland football scarf and rattle. It was said by a wag in the crew that his cabin got a lot tidier when 'Neville' moved in.
"Geordie" appears regularly in both 'The Pull of The Tide' and the new sequel 'The Surge of The Sea'.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Built on the Thames as the ROBIN in 1890, this ship is the oldest complete steamship in existence today.
She was designed for the Home Trade, meaning she was confined to operating on the coasts of Britain and Continental Europe between the limits of Brest in the West and the River Elbe in the East.
In 1900 she was sold to Spanish owners and renamed MARIA. She remained under the Spanish flag until 1974 - that's 74 years coasting around the various ports of Spain and France.
In 1936 MARIA was commandeered by the then Spanish Government and she was in Santander in August 1937 when that port was taken by General Franco's forces. Whether she was employed by them, or how, is not known. We do know, however, that by 1938 she was back trading again for her former owners, Perez & Cia. It is therefore possible that she may have been used for secret Spanish civil war work and it is also a possibility that she may have passed Mallory and his vessel Aspatria in Cadiz.
The Maria Story in Film
The ship has now been renovated and is once again known as ROBIN. The vessel is currently open as a museum in the London Docks close to where she was built 122 years earlier.
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus, Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores, With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack, Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
John Masefield, 1917