Akaru-Hime: New LIfe

And yet another excerpt:


A very successful first day on the water for Lillian’s new life as the inanimate protégé for Mr Sommers’ attention…and for Ruth and I. We spent the next few Saturday afternoons working with Lillian. We would not venture out if the weather was nasty as Mr Sommers felt our experience level was not commensurate with the expertise needed in a strong wind. No matter for me as I would spend that time helping Sommers at the shipyard maintaining Lillian. There was still much work to do on the interior. Ruth, when not at school, would come down and help. I looked forward to her presence with us as I found I was beginning to miss her when she was away. I was thinking of her all the time.

The next few years went by quickly. I had finished my forms at Dartmouth. I decided that the Navy life was not for me and as grateful as I was that the Royal Navy saved my life and instilled a sense of discipline and self worth and confidence into my psyche I could not see that kind of life for me. I declined the offer of a commission as an Officer Cadet or a rating.  Seeing first hand what these young men had to put up with, my own upbringing, with its neglect and physical and verbal abuse, lack of love, instilled into my character a strong sense of independence and selfishness. My back would often rise and my temper flare at the slightest occurrence of an over bearing authority. Little did I realize at the time that the forbearance of love and of patience for me in my early life would become a dominant factor of my own personality in the way that I treated those for whom I felt were beneath me. Little did I know at the time that this would become an overriding determinant of my character in future years to come. But this was my survival instinct that I felt I needed in a world that I felt, unconsciously, was harsh, cruel and void of love. It was the only way I knew in handling relationships of a non carnal nature. The only way I knew of getting things done as most people had done with me. Mr Sommers was the exception. But that would manifest itself later and beget considerable loneliness. As a late blooming teenage boy I had no understanding of such things.

Ruth and I grew closer and closer as the months turned into years. Often times we would go out on the Dart in “Lilly” and explore the area stopping from time to time on a bank of cool grass upriver a way. We talked…erm…she talked of many things.  She was a young woman now. Gone were the boyish locks. Her hair now fell to her shoulders, fashionably coifed with natural curls that were interspersed and intertwined within wave upon wave of strawberry blond tresses that were particularly radiant in the afterglow of a late afternoon sun. Her complexion was flawless and was all the more exotic and welcoming by just a hint of makeup. She was naturally beautiful. Well proportioned, athletic, strong. Her breasts were mature and full, not large, perfect for her physical size.  She had her mother’s eyes I was told. Hazel green for the most part with the slightest touch of grey and an intimation of violet if the sunlight graced her features just so. You could almost detect the coloured hue of violet in a reflective measure of sunlight only to lose sight of it on closer inspection.

“Whaaaat” she would say, teasingly, as my gaze burrowed into her eyes.

“Your eyes Ruth.” I thought they to be green, hazel perhaps, but just then I could detect some violet. Violet, for heaven’s sake?”

“My eyes are green Nigel Filtness.” she laughed as if she needed to scold me, turn me straight. “Maybe a tad hazel but green predominantly.”

Predominantly…predominantly? She had a better way with words than I will ever have. Her diction was precise, flawless really, unlike the guttural slang that came out of my mouth. I was intimidated by her yet she never belittled me.

“I like you Nigel Filtness.” she would announce, as if she was my queen and I her peon…jester. “King….Nigel”, never the Queen. I may be female but I would be KING of all of England, and Wales, maybe Scotland, Ireland perhaps. No, no never Scotland as I can never understand the brogue there.” She giggled. “But Ireland? Ah the land of song, poetry, romance and tragedy. Suffering, tragic Ireland. The Emerald Isle.

“Ireland?” I would ask of her as I lay on my back, my eyes closed, the sun high in the sky but on with its western slide.

“Yes Ireland Nigel” she sat there, smiling, as if pleased with her own insight, sitting as she was with her legs flat out across the grass in front of her with her arms back and to her sides holding her up. “Yes Ireland Nigel, the land of Yeats, of Shaw, of Oscar Wilde…”

“Oh the “poofter” I interjected.

Not saying a word she looked down at me with a scorn that could mortally wound.

“Of Oscar Wilde, Joyce, Michael Collins…” she paused and sighed a long passionate sounding sigh…of the revolutionaries, 1916 Ireland with Padraigh Pearse…”

“Who?” I countered.

“Padraigh Pearse Nigel. Padraigh was an Irish romantic poet, scholar, barrister, revolutionary of the 1916 Irish Rebellion. He was a tragic figure – a naïve Irish ideologue hero. He was executed as one of the Irish rebels of the Easter Riots.”

“Oh, you don’t say” was about all I could say. I felt extremely low intellectually whenever I was with Ruth.

Nevertheless Ruth and I became inseparable. “Lilly” and “Lillian” were our common thread; our common bond; and our common love for sailing. Soon, the intricacies of Lillian’s unique gaff rig configuration became second nature to both of us. We knew Lillian’s quirks like the backs of our palms. It was not long before Mr Sommers had full confidence in both of us. And before long it was not an unusual sight for the Dartmouth and Kingswear sailing community to recognize us both for what we were: respected local seafarers. Lillian, and us, became synonymous with the regulars of the sailing community, particularly those members of the Royal Dartmouth Yacht Club, of which Mr Sommers was a lifetime member, as an icon of the Dart maritime environment. Even the Royal Naval College took note of us, particularly Petty Officer Brand.

“Nigel…Nigel.” Petty Officer Brand asked of me one day while about on the Hindostan.

“Yes Sir.” I was still part of the Royal Navy at Dartmouth but not for very much longer.

“We’re taking Mercury to Gibraltar in the spring. Would you be interested in joining us.”

“But I will be finished here Sir.”

“No matter Nigel. I can offer you an extension for the purposes of this trip. You will be released on return. I can have that in writing. It will be a great experience for you. Almost a direct sail down. We can take a frigate ride home. We intend to leave Mercury at our base there for use by the Garrison. – adventure training as it were.

“Let me think on that sir.”

“Fine Nigel, let me know. But soon. Oh and one other thing. You will be tasked as our principal navigator. A great opportunity for you.”

“What about kit?”

“That will all be taken care of. Sextants, tables, almanac everything. You will also have charge of your own watch.”

“Yes indeed.” was all I said, Yes indeedy” then left for Kingswear with a pronounced spring in my step.

I was so excited. I had to tell Ruth and Mr. Sommers.

SJ…Out

Click on the links at the top of the page.

 

Akaru-Hime: First Sail

And another excerpt:


“I know Nigel and I am sorry. You do know that it was me that alerted the authorities about your personal challenges, especially after the death of your father.  I was also able to convince the naval brass at Dartmouth to take you on. Better than some of those schools for wayward boys I might add.”

That it was I thought. That it was. I had heard of the Fairbridge Society[1] and wanted no part of that.

“I am going to bring her out next Saturday. I want you and Ruth to help me. Are you on for it Nigel.”

“Yes Sir. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Thank you so much.”

That we did and what a beautiful remarkable sight to behold as we graced the Dart with Lillian’s fine looking lines. Her sails were of lilly white sailcloth: white canvass, bulbous when filled and bright in the noon day sunlight. Not a fleeting luff was seen between the main and mizzen. The foresail was cut perfectly and not a ripple, or a fluttering luff or a backing bulge was detected.  The beautiful synergy of the sails was matched only by the clean lines of the white hull. You could detect each and every planked seam. Lillian’s clinker design, a design made famous by the Viking shipbuilders and sea goers, was considered a classic and for a gaff rig sailboat like “Lillian,” appropriately classic. Like the beautiful woman that she was she was oh so elegant on the water. She turned heads.

The bright-work of her caramel coloured teak decks and mahogany uppers almost blinded one with their deep rich hues, especially with a high noon sun that was unobstructed by clouds. Her tall mast, her gaffs; the running rigging that was almost devoid of winches; and her long projection of a bowsprit enhanced Lillian’s lines and curves and waterline perspectives as she sliced through the water effortlessly as a sharp knife or saw would cut through butter or wood. The slight heel to port in this light breeze underlined her righteousness and with an arrogance to all who saw her that she was meant to be on the water. The tiller and rudder was well balanced and only required the slightest touch by Mr Sommers to keep her course true. The rigging was well tuned. Lillian seemed to have a mind of her own as she appeared to sail herself.

Coming about, beating up as far as we could go with a gaff rig; gybing, running before the wind was child’s work for Lillian, especially under the guidance and expertise of Mr Sommers. He did this slowly and painstakingly at first as Ruth and I were novices to a boat of this size, shape and structure. Yes I did have experience with the Royal Navy’s sail training vessel Mercury but Mercury was a standard sloop. She was a lot less complicated than Lillian’s gaff rigged ketch configuration. Indeed it took almost the entire afternoon of course changes, sail tuning and the odd bit of cursing on Mr Sommers’ part before we became comfortable with the running of Lillian.

Ruth and I worked hard managing the array of lines, blocks and tackles. I would take the foredeck while Ruth worked the main, or vice versa. Mr Sommers always took care of the mizzen. Lillian’s running rigging was also of a classic design and comprised almost entirely of manila cordage. Blocks and tackles managed the strain and pressures of the topping lift, outhaul, downhaul, sheets, halyards, Cunningham and boom vang. Just about every aspect of the running rigging that made Lillian dance, was of rope. The only exception to all of this was the two winches situated just below the main companionway, port and starboard, which controlled the port and starboard sheets of the foresail. Once everything was set by Ruth and I on the orders of Mr Sommers was the management and control of the sails through the sheets. One could equate the sheets to a transmission in an automobile whereas the power and aspect of the wind dictated the pressure of the sheets on the sails.

It became obvious to me that Mr Sommers had had a great deal of experience sailing although he was very reticent about this or anything else to do with his past.

[1] Fairbridge Society: In 1909, South African-born Kingsley Fairbridge founded the “Society for the Furtherance of Child Emigration to the Colonies.” The purpose of the society was to educate orphaned and neglected children and train them in farming practices at farm schools located throughout the British Empire: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa. As they say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”


Wonderful.

SJ…Out


Two of my books. Good reads:

Akaru-Hime: “Lillian”

Some more of the Akaru-Hime story:


I continued my afternoon sailings with Mr Sommers. One Saturday afternoon was of particular note as he told me to meet him at the Noss Shipyard. There at one of the berthing slipways was a beautiful gaff rigged sailing vessel of stripped mahogany about 35 feet in length: “Lillian” she was christened. Of course she was.

“What do you think Nigel?” Mr Sommers said on seeing me.

“Beautiful” was about all I could say.

“Come aboard.” I did…in awe.

Mr Sommers had been working on “Lillian” for some years now.

“Just after the war’s end.” He told me. “My wife Lillian had been killed and my work with the yard and as Dockmaster and Harbourmaster for the Port of Dartmouth was considered essential by our government, thus my exemption from military service. I was too old as well they told me but I didn’t like to think of myself in that way. The activity of the Port, my job and my responsibilities were important to the war effort. Yes, perhaps, but it kept me sane, grief stricken as I was with Lillian’s death. And I had Ruth to take care of.”

“I am sorry sir.” was all I could say for the moment. We went below deck into the main cabin. I followed his lead and took a seat across from him on the port settee. He continued.

“I found this piece of maritime flotsam, as I referred to her, up in the western arm of the Dart, by the Old Mill Boatyard. She was in rough shape, neglected and up on her side on the mud flats in a little bay just to the east of the marine slips on the north side of the arm. Being the Harbourmaster it was my responsibility to ensure that derelicts such as this could not be used by the enemy for nefarious operations against the port. Believe me Nigel there were many spies and Nazi sympathisers in this area, especially given our proximity to the Royal Navy’s presence at Plymouth. Plymouth was strategic and an important target for the German bombers. Nevertheless, I gave whoever may have owned her a chance to recover her. I posted notices up and around the various slipways of the Dart and in the small towns and villages around here and upriver all the way to Totnes. No response.”

“Then what?” I asked, while admiring Lillian’s interior teak.

“I took ownership and had the lead shipwright and naval architect at Noss’ come over and survey her. Turns out she was stable. Her hull was sound. The mast and gaffs were strewn across the mud flats and beach but all of the bits and pieces were still true to form in relatively good order. Her standing rigging was gone however. I felt that with a bit of sweat and a loving touch I could bring her back to life.”

He paused to reflect on something. He looked directly at me.

“On the selfish side of things Nigel I knew that bringing her back to life would provide for me a focus and purpose to continue living without dear, dear Lillian. Sure I had Ruth’s welfare to consider but she wasn’t enough.

“So I had some of Noss’ crew come over and right her, get her floating again and bring her over to the shipyard. There they found a slip for me, and a cradle on the hard which was out of the way of prying eyes. I could use the resources in material and expertise of the yard to draw from in which to restore her. That I did over the years, but on my own time and at my own expense.” He looked forward then aft toward the engine compartment.

“It wasn’t until after the war’s end that I could really focus on her in my spare time, of which I suddenly had lots.”

He looked at me again, grinned, then added. “And that is why those Saturday afternoon sails in “Lilly” were so important to me Nigel. In a selfish way I might add I used you and our time together to placate my own fears and loneliness. It provided a welcome break and respite from my work as Harbourmaster but also a break from my responsibilities in raising Ruth. Furthermore, our afternoon sails reminded me as to why I was so eager in restoring “Lillian.””

“You were not using me Sir.” I responded. “I enjoyed every minute and it got me away from a home life that was becoming unbearable, if only for an afternoon escape.”

Hope you enjoy these snippets.

SJ…Out

Akaru-Hime

Another excerpt from a story I am working on. This is in draft form. More work to be done. I am now 95 pages into it. About 25% completed. It is fun and relaxing though. Hope to have it done by summers end.


In about a week’s time I was pulled out of school by the Kingswear council authorities and child welfare department. Our house on Church Hill was cleaned out, deloused and vacated as it was not family owned. My few belongings were passed to me in an old suitcase and carrying bag. Before I knew it and without any prior knowledge I was placed in the charge of the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman, 3rd rate, under the auspices and guidance of the Royal Navy’s disciplinary regimen at HMS Britannia, Dartmouth. Being only 13 years young, soon to be 14, this was to be my lot in life until such time as I could join the Royal Navy as a formal recruit at eighteen years of age, if I wanted to, or as an Officer Cadet, if I was so inclined scholastically and again if I wanted to. Signing on at eighteen would be a twelve year commitment. I was not sure if I wanted that. How can a thirteen year old be sure of anything? But I had to survive.

Ruth went off to St Dunstan’s School for Girls, a private or public school in Plymouth. We would see each other from time to time over the next few years but only as her term breaks and my brief respites from my study and duties at Dartmouth would allow. Mr. Sommers continued his Saturday afternoon sails of which I accompanied him as my responsibilities would permit. Normally I had Saturday afternoons off, just after cleaning stations and Captain’s rounds. Unbeknownst to me at the time it was Mr. Sommers who contacted the local council and child services department in Kingswear and Plymouth about my personal station in life after my father passed.

How I loved those Saturday afternoons with Mr. Sommers and with Ruth. No longer an object of neglect but with three squares under my belt I was beginning to form out physically into an adolescent – a fine young man they said. Life at Dartmouth for a young lad such as myself was stark and harsh but I grew to enjoy it for it was secure and structured. Discipline could be severe but it was needed. Not physically abusive as one would think of an institution that was hundreds of years old. Never, ever were we brought before the mast with a lashing from a “cat o nine” tail. That was a maritime myth. But mentally? That was a different matter. Looking back on those years I can understand why. There were other boys like myself there with backgrounds as disturbing and as varied as the colour and sight lines of the many sailing craft on the Dart. There were “ner do wells,” the delinquents, the orphans, the physically abused, the homeless…well…just about every conceivable personality trait that covered the entire gauntlet of all of the social discords and ills of post war England. It was here and under these circumstances that I began my life’s journey into the maritime environment.

Over the next few years I learned a great deal. It turned out that I possessed an acuity and aptitude for mathematics and the sciences. I excelled at navigation, relative velocity and engineering. Seamanship came naturally for me, perhaps as a result of the many Saturday afternoons spent sailing with Mr. Sommers. My seamanship skills were quite advanced for my age. So much so that in my spare time I could be found scurrying about HMS HINDOSTAN, which was a decommissioned Royal Naval vessel, permanently moored at Sandquay, exactly 187 steps down from the Royal Naval School, HMS DARTMOUTH. The HINDOSTAN employed a Chief Boatswain Mate, or Bos’n, who was a senior plebe of the school assigned to the HINDOSTAN on a three month rotational basis. Given my age I was not yet qualified as an Officer Cadet or a Rating thus my presence there turned out to be the seamanship continuity on that ship. I got to know everyone from the college and they got to know me. Not always a pleasant experience as I was often times belittled and bullied by the Cadets who were of a class much higher and broader than mine. Amongst my own peer group of ner’do’wells etc…well we were all lower class in the eyes of the Cadets and not worthy of coexistence in their midst. One instance became ingrained in my mind and was directly responsible for one of my life decisions.

“You…you there…” someone yelled. I turned in the direction of the voice. It was a senior Officer Cadet, standing aft on the quarterdeck. I made a pointing gesture to myself without saying a word.

“Yes you…come here…NOW.” he had a number of fellow cadets with him. They were standing behind him, all snickering at my presence.

“Sir” I answered, for he was an Officer candidate if even under training.

“What is your name…turd.”

Confused at this turn, I answered. “Nigel.”

“Nigel what.” he came back.

“Nigel Filtness.”

“What? WHAT?” he screamed.

Oh…yes, I thought to myself: “Nigel Filtness…SIR” At attention now.

“Well Nigel Filtness Sir. Looking at your working dress I would say you were what, a Boy Seaman Third Class. Hmmm?” He looked me straight in the eye, sideways, with his left eyebrow raised.

“Yes Sir.” I answered meekly, without confidence.

“What?” he screamed.

“YES SIR” I bellowed.

“Well you know Boy Seaman Nigel Filtness Sir.” as he walked slowly around me, poking me with his “pace” stick. “You are the lowest of the low. The surface layered blackened scum of the bilge. To be expunged. You are not a seaman, you are certainly not a cadet, nor will you ever be an…Officer. So what are you Filtness? Hmmm? Hmmm?

“Whatever you want me to be…SIR.”

“Well Nigel Stillness…you are shyte as far as I…we…are concerned,,,Nigel.” he looked at me tauntingly but smugingly at his cohort. “Shyte of the lowest order of shyte, and that is low.”

“Yes Sir…”. I responded.

He looked at me for a while but wasn’t sure of what to say to me next. He was lost for words, as only bullies could be. He grunted, turned and with his colleagues crossed the brow, arrogantly, and left the ship to return up the 187 steps to the college. I stood still, remained at attention, humiliated and ashamed at my dressing down and my lack of resolve and ability to respond. But I couldn’t respond for fear of a major reprisal and punishment. Banishment from the college if I ever dared to challenge a pretend Officer, an Officer in waiting. No matter what the cause or occurrence. Being right did not always matter in the Royal Navy, especially when it came to the chain of command. That was the emotional discipline that we had to put up with. But it was nothing compared to the abuse I received all of my life at home.

“Pay no heed to them.” Petty Officer Brand offered in my defence.

It sure would have been nice to have had you there when this was going on. I thought to myself. Cowards, the lot of them. I looked up to PO Brand but for now I just shook my head and continued on with my chores. Inside I was fuming.

Other than the bullshyte abuse from some of the Cadets, life at the college was good. It gave me disciplined structure. My senior ratings were fair and treated me with some respect, probably due to my seamanship ability, aptitude for Celestial Navigation and common sense. My instructors, supervisors, all Naval Officers and Senior Ratings, were veterans of the war. They were extremely tough but fair minded. Our practical sessions were aboard some of the college’s sailing vessels, one of which was a 40 foot ketch. I excelled at sailing thus was given free hand at 16 years of age to assume charge of “Mercury” but under the watchful eye of Petty Officer Brand. We often sailed out into the channel for coastal navigational training and celestial practice when we had a clear and unobstructed horizon and clear skies. It was great fun.

It was now 1955. I was sixteen years on.


Great song.

SJ…Out

 

 

Like…Like…Like

A First World Problem

Left is all in a tizzy over this Jeopardy winner’s reaction of having won his third game:

a man wearing a suit and tie

“It’s a racist, white supremacy gesture,” so say the lefties. “Kick him off the show and make him apologize.”

His response?

See the source image

Get a life lefty snowflake.

Another First World Problem:

A Christian pastor in the UK was arrested by police after a member of the public reported him for the “homophobic” comment of saying that marriage was between a man and a woman.

What the world is coming to. Unbelievable.

And another:

We are entering a new “Dark Age.”

That is the good-bad news; the really great news is that Shakespeare has been canceled by some woke American teachers because they think his classic works promote ‘misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, and misogynoir’ (is there anything else?). That is a direct quote. All I can say is that, although I am perhaps overly attached to the past, it’s no wonder that so many people love Shakespeare ( from Taki).

Whew, I never could understand that dude.

“Our enlightened age is being replaced by the “Like” age. Like, like it or not you will like, accept like the woke way of like doing things as in the likeness of being like (SJ).”

Hey bro, don’t ya know that like reading, writing and mathematics, like as in 2+2=4, are so like white dude and must like be eradicated dude. Ya bro, we’re all just like real simpletons like don’t ya know that like 2+2=22. It is like really woke to be like a real simpleton. All white dudes and dudesses should be like simpletons just like the rest of us like simpletons…like…like.

Ah yes, someone wrote a book about that as in The Unbearable Likeness of Being A Woke (my apologies to Milan Kundera)

We have entered…..ta da….

The Second Dark Age.

After all we have honored likeness like in when we named a highway in Honolulu the “LikeLike” Highway. Hawaii: The Like State.

Why does diversity only apply to black people or people of colour as in enrollment or attendance. If you have a class of 50 white people and one black person or someone of colour then by definition you have diversity. Differing cultures…like, ya know bro.

Yo dude. I like that.

I am proud to call myself a Christian. I like that.

Have a great weekend.

SJ…Out

Check out my books by clicking the links at the top of the page. I am sure you will like them. Support a like struggling Canadian author…like…like ya know bro.