6. Retrospective

It is still the early days of my adventure, but things are beginning to settle down a bit. The next entry contains what could be seen as a blog within a blog, or a journal within a journal where I start to list out events from my younger life, in particular my school days.

To assist a little, I will annotate in bracketed italics, where appropriate, the bits that need interpretation…there is a lot of schoolboy jargon).

Monday 21 March 1988. Koei Maru 30

Today I feel much better. I got on with my work last night and did two samples. I was on the verge of wimping out because I felt so terrible, but am glad that I hung on in there.


I tried writing lyrics for a song last night – corny or what? – but the title is good:

‘Living in sin without you’

The sea has died down a little and I have become a bit more used to it. I hope I am over the worst. I still can’t get hold of this sleeping until 2 or 3 pm each day (although I would find it easy at home)

‘In Patagonia’ is a most enjoyable book. I would love to write the same way as Bruce Chatwin.

I found out last night that there are 21 crew on the Koei Maru 30 – hence my hard hat being number 22.


I am in inspired mood. I want to write about my schooldays. I should do it now when I can still remember things and people clearly. Why ever not? Just because I’m only 24 it doesn’t mean I can’t reminisce.

Started at Highfield  (my preschool). Red dough. Wendy House. Adrian W.

Highgate Primary (my primary school).

A large hall with cheap paintings and a glass roof in the middle. Prayers and assembly, lunch and play. School plays.

A playground, climbing frame, wasp stamping, kiss chase, water fountains. A bloody nose, a wall over to the junior school, hurling abuse and insults. Playground toilets, a boy with a big head and orange pee, a boy whose trousers were pulled down in the playground.

Teachers – Mrs Burke (Head), Miss Price ‘can you hear a pin drop?’, Miss Cavanah?, Mrs Leigh. Miss Gillian? who was kind and had ‘magic cream’ for grazes.

Friends – Philip Smith, bangers and mash and Newcastle, skinhead. Steve Davies, Judith Warren, Louise, Basite, Judith?, Vivienne, Toby, Ulrick and the sandpit incident that led to a smack from Mrs Burke.

Looked after frequently by Mrs Knight – fish fingers and blancmange. In the hall were gauntlets, riding helmet and goggles.

Sports day, Toby cheating in the sack race.

On to Highgate. Pete, Richard, Julia, Leanna, Karen. Fizzy gang, Sekeden guns, crushing green conkers at Richard’s (making poison). Watching TV, Lost in Space, Ali Bongo, Asterix books, Smash-ups (ramming Lego cars towards each other until they broke), Snow. Move house to Woodberry Crescent.

Highgate School – Ingleholm (the junior school), like a limpet with mum, tears etc. Assembly with huge hymn sheets on the wall. Alec Taylor, science and plays. Miss Jarvis, hated me and vice versa. Mrs Povey, nature, released a toad I found which broke my heart. Miss Wilmott, recorder lessons, crush, ancient history, chocolates when I was late once. Miss Jones, Miss Brown.

Tuesday afternoons was a switch between drama, art and woodwork – ace. Saturday mornings – school ugh! Uniform grey flannels.

Phrases – Bungleholm (corruption of Ingleholm), bish-bungle (said when making a mistake), skills, skillos (said while holding your lapels to announce that you had done something good, or won something), the ‘pen’ and ‘pen football’ (the ‘pen’ was a fenced off area a little bigger than a tennis court, where all the junior boys were herded for breaks. The football was usually about 25-a-side, and usually Arsenal v Spurs)

Classmates – Adam W, Justin B, Matthew P, Paul D, John B.

Houses were Drake, Shakespeare and Raleigh. Athletics day only one medal ever in the 4x100m relay, thanks to Andrew G. Mr Trewellah, gym and swimming. Cricket with Mr Taylor on Tatham field, also rounders.

Indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. ‘Cap, Mac and outdoor shoes’ (when it was raining). Fight with Jerry M. Falling out of the car after a piano lesson. Violin lessons with a horrible teacher. Rainstorm when the basement was flooded.

School skiing holidays – Gurtis, Cauterets, Leysin, Leysin – David D getting knocked out in a pillow fight.

A week off school for filming in the South of France for an AA commercial – brilliant time. (How I would love to get my hands on a copy of the commercial, but I expect it has been destroyed by now.)

Tuesday 22 March 1988. Koei Maru 30

The sea is once again calm and the sun is blazing – I have just seen the Dornier fly past. I saw it circle over to some other jiggers and willed it to come over so I could wave, but in the efficiency of FISHOPS, it has a pre-arranged course which it sticks to. No time to wave at lonely observers. The job is becoming less and less painful – the first week was the worst. I have now got into a routine and am much happier. But oh God I miss home.

I have tried to compose properly my first song, but am having great difficulty being original – I am sure this is a problem for many musicians/songwriters, although it would be arrogant and false to put myself amongst such people.

I fear, although I can’t believe it, that I might be getting a mild cold or an allergy or something.

Five steaks in one day! What can I say, except yummie, and there is still one more meal to go. I find the mix of fish and meat very difficult to cope with, but am getting used to it.

Wednesday 23 March 1988. Koei Maru 30

Have seen nor heard anything of the military exercise. Not surprising out here at sea. I wish I could write like Bruce Chatwin. Perhaps one day I will.

When I woke up I forced myself upon a tin of COOP sago (creamed) cold. It was actually not too bad, and will keep hunger away for a while. Today I will ask Nananuma for some butter.

Oh for some M&S chipsticks. A craving is a terrible thing, it eats away at one’s will and cripples your every thought. Who shall I write to today? Gavin and Matt, Pat, Roy and Gordon.

Thursday 24 March 1988. Koei Maru 30

Instead I wrote to Gavin and Matt and Martin Stephenson (a musician that I loved, and still love, from my days at Newcastle University. Still gigging), basically to see if he is as good a bloke as I think he is. I feel he won’t be able to resist replying to a letter from the Falklands – that is if he gets it.

Last night a second jigger moored up behind us because by 12:30 am we were full of squid and they weren’t. I took some pictures. Apparently it is fairly common practice. I don’t think I am going to find out anything new this voyage.



Called Port Stanley on the Radio but had to go via KSJ and wait for John Barton to get to the KSJ office. It was nice to have a long chat in English. I was able to express myself without having to resort to ‘simple’ English or without having to write.

I have finished ‘In Patagonia’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now on to ‘David Copperfield’. I am challenging myself to finish it before the end of this voyage – could be tough. Six days for ‘In Patagonia’.

I must write some more letters. I may run out of envelopes. I hope not.