Thursday, February 20, 2020

Leaping up for a cry in the night

I had hardly fallen asleep when a woman's scream filled the bedroom. Perhaps inspired by some knight of old, I leaped from under the duvet ready to come to the aid of the fair maiden.
In spite of the volume of the full cry, the seemingly desperate lady was not there beside the bed.
The bedroom window stood wide. Through it came the cry from the garden right below.


The long, agonised shriek sounded remarkably human.
However, the view revealed that it rose from a seemingly love-sick quadruped. That's not supposed to happen in February, but online experts suggest that the furry lady might well have her calendar mixed up.
Very likely, London's really weird winter has not really offered proof of the season - not even one snowflake.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Depressing the new press man

A STRANGE MEMORY LINK HAPPENED TODAY involving smoking, and the former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan, and one of the most painful moments of my teen years.
Back in my cadet/junior reporter days, smoking was the badge of a real man, as Hollywood – the big screen - showed.
If what I saw on a cinema screen could be adapted to 18-year-old me, it certainly was.
Clothes, hair-style, the way we reporter's talked (as Hollywood dictated), and as much as any of it, smoking.
As a young man, Kofi Annan witnessed smoking embarrassment when an employee entered the office of his very strict father.


The worker was smoking. Seeing the employer’s expression, the clerk tried to hide his cigarette in a pocket … and his trousers began smouldering.
In my encounter with a generation clash over young men smoking, this madly keen young reporter stood in his new boss’s office.
What should a reporter wear, how should he act? Back then, Hollywood set the standards.
I must wear a suit, with the shirt collar undone and the knot of the tie down a few inches, just like in the movies.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Spring! The perfect antidote for State crookery

VALENTINE'S DAY might well be a happy loving day for many, but it's a celebration that turns the corners down for me.

In that secret trial in which I was victimised, the former Customs Department prosecution added yet one more untruth to their deceiving of a gullible, decidedly landlubber jury.
When I sailed towards Cape Town from the North Atlantic, disobliging winds in the Roaring Forties had stopped me from sailing east.
However, the wind angle was sufficient to allow me to head towards St Helena.

A dismasted mini-yacht

 I know the island well, had reached it in an extraordinary survival voyage in a dismasted mini-yacht, and was only too happy on my swallowing-the-anchor voyage to meet up with Saints (as they are nicknamed) who had been so hospitable.
 A few days later, when conditions favoured it, I headed for the Cape.
 The prosecution made this astonishing claim, which - forgive me - I have mocked on this site before: I went to St Helena to 'lay low'.
Isn't St Helena a British dependency and surely South Africa a republic?
 Most of us don't need fresh geography lessons to know it and to realise which of the two might be more suited to 'laying low'.

Deceiving, unconscionable people

These deceiving, unconscionable people stuck to the silly claim, and the jury went along with it.
What I didn't know then is that once a jury has announced its 'considered' decision, the heavens are not strong enough to change it.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A wheely scary moment for a new van owner

Come for a drive, a friend said yesterday, and your correspondent, recovering from a ghastly winter flu, was very happy to accept the invitation.
The destination was Portsmouth to collect some vital equipment for his latest love, a Ford van of the sleuth genus, which to the more old fashioned might be better known as a camper van.
However, the style is much more upmarket these days, as Uncle Google happily reveals.
Friend Joseph bought the needed wheels through eBay, and in the eBay manner paid up-front.

A pleasant scenic drive

All that was necessary to enjoy the relative bargain was a pleasant scenic drive down to the Hampshire yachting port, an old haunt of mine, to collect the goods.
My sextant and charts weren't needed because Joseph has his own amazing navigator, a traffic application called Waze, extraordinarily free online.
Without once looking at a map, we reached exactly the right gate, and Joseph went in to collect his bargain perfectly on the prearranged time.
How odd. The seller wasn’t home, no-one was, and nor were the wheels with an apologetic note attached. Surely, it couldn’t be …

Not wheels?

Curiously, a delivery van drove up and parked next to us. The driver was here to collect some goods at this prearranged time. ‘Not wheels?’ Joseph asked. The driver nodded.
Then, curious and curiouser, a second commercial lorry arrived, and parked alongside. He was here to collect, um, looking through his clipboard, some wheels.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at