Sunday, 11 May 2014

Drink Up, Me Hearties, Yo Ho!

It seems like an age since I last spoke to you, and it's been over a week!  Heavens!  This past week has conspired to fill my time with root canal work (ouch), actual paid work (for shame!) and preparing for the talk I gave yesterday at the Russell-Cotes in Bournemouth.  Frankly, I have been working myself ragged this week, which is not like me at all, with very little time for sitting on pillows and eating chocolates and I began to wonder if indeed I needed a new job.  Naturally, my thoughts turned to piracy...

The Whelp of the Black Rover Bernard Gribble
Look, it's not that I don't love my job, quite the contrary.  I love my job, but the prospects of me advancing or seeing any chests of gold are somewhat limited.  Come on, I bet you can see me as the Whelp of the Black Rover, the lass in the front of this pirate dingy.  I can carry off a headscarf, I am willing to motivate others with a sword and any appraisal system that involves a plank can't be all bad.  Also, you're not allowed to run through colleagues that annoy you in the public sector, I'm pretty sure it's frowned on.  I'd have to check our employee manual but I think that's the sort of thing that gets you a formal warning, more's the pity.  If I was a pirate, things would be somewhat more straightforward...

Pour oh Pour the Pirate Sherry... (1909) William Russell Flint
I think I may have been influenced by my first role on stage.  When I was about 14 I appeared in The Pirates of Penzance (which the above Flint is an illustration for).  I got to play the daughter with a homely face and bad complexion.  It struck me then that the pirates had nicer outfits, weapons and sherry, all of which are splendid and should be the essentials of a good working environment.  Look at this lot, lounging around the sand, playing cards and generally being pirate-y.  Looks splendid.

The Buccaneer was a Picturesque Fellow Howard Pyle
I say!  Look, don't think that my decision to enter nineteenth century piracy has anything to do with how picturesque this fine fellow is.  I don't believe I've ever described someone as being 'picturesque', I usually go with slightly less delicate adjectives.  He is rather spiffy though, isn't he?  I do hope I get to fanny about in a red cloak and a jolly hat.  He looks a bit of a handful though, so I don't think I'll be dallying with any picturesque fellows.  He looks ever so high maintenance.  Yes dear, you look lovely, please can we go and raid something now?

The Buccaneers Frank Brangwen
Gosh, it looks heavenly to potter about in a boat with a jolly red flag on a sea so blue that you could cut sapphires from it.  Any job that involves trailing my fingers through the water whilst wearing a puffy white shirt has got a lot going for it.  Did I mention I look great in a red headscarf?  Yes, piracy is definitely for me...

The Corsair's Return Ford Madox Brown
Now this is less than jolly.  Of course there would be a lot of working away from home and the moment you turn your back everyone dies in a pathos-laden manner.  Well, that's not on, but in these days of  immunisation I suppose I can be fairly certain that my nearest and dearest won't be pegging out the moment I set sail to find treasure.  It does seem a bit rude.

Mutineers (1903) David Arthur McCormick
Okay, I suppose the disciplinary measures of my current job are a little less harsh than whatever is going on in this picture.  Mind you, I have never attempted to mutiny in my office.  I'm not sure anyone has the energy for it but I'm sure you wouldn't get shot for it.  More like a note on your permanent record which is a little less fatal.

The Rescue of the Brides of Venice James Clarke Hook
To be honest, I thought piracy would involve gold and jewels, not a ship full of young women.  Can you be specific about the sort of piracy you get involved with?  This painting is based on an event when a ship-load of young virgins was pinched by some pirates and had to be retrieved.  I'm sure it was not as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as it sounds or else I would be happy with that.  It's one of my favourite musicals as long as you don't think about the horrific implications of the plot too much and just concentrate on the gingham.  There's some business going on with an axe over the shoulders of the rescued damsels to the right which I'm not sure I want any part of.  Seven Brides ended with a nice wedding, not a good axe-ing.

Corsairs (1880) Henryk Siemiradzki
Right, I think I'm reconsidering my future in piracy.  I thought it would be all sherry and headscarves but there does seem to be a bit of a trade in naked ladies and I'm not really up for that.  Plus, I'm not sure how good I'd look in that pointy helmet.  Mind you, look at the range of fabrics and textures in this picture, everything seems so precious.  The boats are painted, there are furs and gold head-dresses, musical instruments and great wall hangings.  The light in the cave is strange, reflected through water to illuminate with a pale glow.  Very lovely, but I'm beginning to see how this might not be the right job for me...

Dead Men Tell No Tales (1899) Howard Pyle
Right then, I think I'm settled on remaining in a twenty-first century office rather than in nineteenth century piracy.  I was actually surprised at the level of unpleasantness shown in the pictures I found on the subject as nowadays pirates tend to get rather a mild treatment...

Disney's Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Pugwash
We have a tendency to diffuse the nastiness of piracy through characters such as Pugwash (who was on Mr Walker's wallpaper when he was a child) and Disney's ever popular Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Captain Jack Sparrow is probably single-handedly responsible for making hoards of women consider piracy (and rum) and rehabilitates pirates, giving them a conscience and humour.  We still have piracy on our high-seas and it is not cuddly, cute or rather attractive, it is vicious.  The Victorians surprised me by not shying away from the less pleasant aspects of the trade, or maybe they feared that people would still consider it a viable career path.

Well, I'm guessing that the wifi signal would not be too good on the high seas and so I'd rather stay a landlubber and write my blog.  No pirates life for me, I promise.  Just in case you were wondering, this definitely wasn't me...


  1. I'm going to become very tiresome now, saying 'pour, oh pour the pirate sherry' whenever I want a second glass of Fino, and it's all your fault.

  2. What surprises me is how unpleasantly cluttered all those pirate pictures are, with the exception of Howard Pyle. His pirates are the only ones with room to breathe, which I think is another disincentive for the career.

  3. Simon, you're welcome, it's the correct way to request sherry. And you have to sing it.

    Pat, you're right, I'd be forever trying to clear surfaces. I'm beginning to think piracy really isn't for me, a fact which I shall be sure to mention at my appraisal tomorrow.

  4. Siemiradzki and Howard Pyle are awesome.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx