36. Delay and treachery

Some readers of this blog may not know that it is called Natural Adventures because it was started as a digitisation of a journal I kept during an adventure I had in the Falkland Islands in 1988 when I was a young man. I was a fisheries scientist working for the Falkland Islands Government, and at this point in the Journal had spent several weeks at sea on a Japanese squid jigger called the Koei Maru 30, and very much looking forward to some shore leave.

For context, it might be worth reading chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘.

The full series of posts are in the ‘Falkland Journal, 1988′ category of the Natural Adventures blog, to be read in reverse order (from the bottom up).

Wednesday 13 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Well, I’m jolly batey (pissed-off) this morning. I have been told that in fact we’re staying out for a day longer than planned because, well, I don’t exactly understand why. Still, it has really pissed me (and many of the crew) off.

There was I this morning thinking that my sampling was the last I was going to do and feeling a little sad about it, when in fact I shouldn’t have done.

Actually, I’m not going to do a sample tomorrow – I’m going to be laid back and do gangion (jargon) counts only! So there!

I have just finished ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ what an incredible end – I never guessed. So Clever. I wish I could create something like that. A most enjoyable book, despite me taking so long to read it.

Thursday 14 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Once again a miraculous sunrise – if nothing else, I shall miss these when I leave these islands for good.

I have been racing through William Golding’s ‘Rites of Passage’ which is a topical and easy to read book. I am enjoying it.

A small bird (a petrel of some sort – perhaps a white-chinned petrel) (more likely a storm petrel) was sitting in the squid gutter. I took some piccies of it – poor thing is very bedraggled – I don’t know how these birds get in such a state – perhaps it is a disease or something – I don’t know.

Storm Petrel, Koei Maru 30, South Atlantic, July 1988
Storm Petrel, Koei Maru 30, South Atlantic, July 1988

Well, tomorrow we really will be in Stanley and my feet shall embrace terra firma for the first time in 34 days – what a luxury it will be, not to have to compensate for thee rolling of the ship – it is wearisome in the extreme.

A cutting:

Basking shark article, Falkland Islands, July 1988
Basking shark article, Falkland Islands, July 1988

Perhaps the Marine Conservation Society will be relevant to me one day – I hope so – it is a body I admire and would like to be involved with – perhaps I’ll drop them a line.

Friday 15 July 1988. Koei Maru 30/Port Stanley, Emma’s Guest House

A dull day, but home time. Up early.

So many problems – arrived in Stanley – the crew were all in good spirits.

The meeting with the Fishing Master, JJ (the Falkland Fisheries chief officer), me, Okida (the vessel owner?) and Crag went dismally. JJ insisted on 120 days. What a bloody nightmare. Poor Phil will have to take the brunt of the crew’s discontent.

It is all such a cock up, and working on the KM30 will be a nightmare for observers.

SHIT, I feel like a traitor, and they treated me like one. So sad.

My desk at Fishops, Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, July 1988
My desk at Fishops, Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, July 1988

I listened to granny’s tape letter – so good to hear all her news. Very sweet. I love her all the more for hearing it.

Went to Sean’s for chops with Phil – got very pissed – Back to Anna and Sean’s and then very, very drunk – a nice welcome home.

Saturday 16 July 1988. Port Stanley, Emma’s Guest House

I’m feeling morose. I have just realised how short my UK leave is. It is depressing. I’m also concerned about the long-lining. I am so angry with the Ice Master, who is being incredibly immature and hurtful – the Fishing Master too.

Phoned home and D and they all sound well. D sounded a little down, I can’t wait to be with her again. I miss her so much – this week will be a trial.

Crag has handed in his notice and will be leaving in late August. This is very sad. After he goes, there’ll only be Sean, Phil, Drin, Dan and Liz. I’m also depressed because I’m going to be spending a lot more time at sea when I come back, on a ship that hates me!

35. Sunrises

Some readers of this blog may not know that it is called Natural Adventures because it was started as a digitisation of a journal I kept during an adventure I had in the Falkland Islands in 1988 when I was a young man. I was a fisheries scientist working for the Falkland Islands Government, and at this point in the Journal had spent several weeks at sea on a Japanese squid jigger called the Koei Maru 30, and very much looking forward to some shore leave.

For context, it might be worth reading chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘.

The full series of posts are in the ‘Falkland Journal, 1988′ category of the Natural Adventures blog, to be read in reverse order (from the bottom up).

Sunday 10 July 1988, Koei Maru 30

Today is full of promise. The sun is shining after a glorious sunrise which began with a deep blue-purple and a sliver of a crescent moon in a cloudless starry sky. The orange glows in the East then began and heralded this lovely crisp day.

Sunrise, South Atlantic, Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Sunrise, South Atlantic, Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Another great bit of news is that I am to return to Port Stanley on the 14th, this coming Thursday. The Fishing Master also said that they would still be fishing when I returned from the UK and that they would have a party before returning to Japan, He is a real Jekyll and Hyde – I never quite know which mood I catch him in.

Today has fulfilled its promise, mainly in that it is nearly over. It has been sunny and clear, which lifts the depression which sets in during the gloom and overcast days. A few more Barry please. (an in joke with myself)

Now watching a Japanese war film – a little tactless I think, considering I’m English, but not to worry.

Japanese war film, doodle. Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Japanese war film, doodle. Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Monday 11 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Having looked forward so much to today’s radio session, I actually forgot it in my forgetfulness… eh?

I was instead having lots of fun in the factory deck. Abe is a great bloke – always poking fun, always playing the monkey. Very funny. I’m glad that people aged 28 or so can still be complete fools, it is refreshing.

Wrote possibly my last letter for a while to Mum and Ad. Talked about Abe and Mr Chiba.

Couldn’t get to sleep at all, I’m so excited about getting back to Port Stanley.

Tuesday 12 July 1988. Koei Mau 30

After three and a half hours sleep, I went to hold 4 and took loads of ‘crew at work’ piccies. I also took some photographs of one of the loveliest sunrises I’ve ever witnessed. The wispy clouds touched with pink. I wish it was a slide not a print!

Crew preparing baskets for the day's fishing, Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Crew preparing baskets for the day’s fishing, Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Abe and Abe the Bosun, Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Abe and Abe the Bosun, Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Crew on deck 4, Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Crew on deck 4, Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Young crew member with squid-baited long-line baskets ready for deployment, Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Young crew member with squid-baited long-line baskets ready for deployment, Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Wrote a letter to D, telling her that I’m going completely bonkers. I am.

I am very tired, but have enjoyed today very much. The more I do this work, the more I enjoy it. Abe got me to top and tail and gut my hake today, which was a good compromise because it meant they readily gave them to me, and it also kept me busy.

I am mortified – I am devastated.

My final link with childhood – the bracelet I have worn every day since my A-levels has just broken – I feel torn and weak like Samson without hair. A great sadness for me. In tatters, I feel like crying but am too tired.

Bead bracelet broken, doodle, Koei Maru 30, July 1988
Bead bracelet broken, doodle, Koei Maru 30, July 1988

Actually, I don’t think I will ever sleep again. Or will I? 18:00hrs 12.7.88 – Bracelet RIP

34. Close to home

Some readers of this blog may not know that it is called Natural Adventures because it was started as a digitisation of an adventure I had to the Falkland Islands in 1988 when I was a young man. I was a fisheries scientist working for the Falkland Islands Government and at this point in the Journal had spent several weeks at sea on a Japanese squid jigger called the Koei Maru 30.

For context, it might be worth reading chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘.

The adventure continues… (prompted by Cannibalrabbit to post about the Falklands again)

 

Thursday 7 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Once again we aren’t fishing – Today I think it was more of a holiday than bad weather, although the waves are quite big.

It has been a newspaper reading and letter reading day. It is weird, but I am loitering in late May and early June at the moment – London marathon and things like that.

I suppose Wimbledon is happening round about now. I feel detached from summer, it snowed for a while here today, so I find it difficult to connect.

Africa still calls. I yearn.

17 days and I will be home – Yahoo.

In reading my letters I discover that my mother writes excellent letters, they are a real inspiration. Alex too wrote a very good letter indeed.

Is Jasper really getting hitched? I sincerely hope not. Getting married has to be a questionable act.

“Girl you really got me going” – The Kink

Abe, crewman, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, July 1988
Abe, crewman, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, July 1988

 

Friday 8 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Spoke with John Barton this morning – it seems he wants me back by the 15th or so, that is fine by me, but when I broke the news to the Fishing Master he was not at all pleased – sometimes he is such a miserable sod.

The weather is still pretty poor, although there has been no snow or rain today.

There is so little that I can write about these days, I think boring is the phrase or word I would use to describe my life at the moment.

I pity Phil having to take over from me – I reckon He’ll get a pretty hard time of it.

 

Saturday 9 July 1988. Koei Maru 30.

Well if we do get into Port Stanley on the 15th then this is probably my last Saturday ever on the Koei Maru 30 – a joyous occasion, since each day of the week I spend here will now be my last of that day. I am scoffing my rations accordingly but will leave a few bits and bobs for Phil.

Why am I so bloody organised? I have devised loads of forms for Phil to fill out while he’s on board and have given him tons of info about how to get by. The truth being told, I don’t trust that he’ll do as good a job as me because he probably doesn’t give a monkey’s.

Coastal snow, Falkland Islands, July 1988
Coastal snow, Falkland Islands, July 1988

I have rediscovered my 0.70 Rotring pen which I used to often use for my lecture notes and diary etc back at Newcastle. Oh God, I miss my undergraduate days, they were a lot of fun and very exciting. The thing I’ve noticed most about being here is that I am not a kid any more and I can never be again – this is my biggest regret in life. If I had a wish, I would wish I could begin again – suffer the pains of school, puberty, embarrassment and the joys of discovery, adventure, exercise, childish fun.

It may sound pathetic, but I also consider a lot how good it would be to be a father – my time will come, but I am very excited about having children and being everything they could want from a father. Enough pondering. (Little did I know)

33. Thinking of home

Some readers of this blog may not know that it is called Natural Adventures because it was started as a digitisation of adventure I had to the Falkland Islands in 1988 when I was a young man. I was a fisheries scientist working for the Falkland Islands Government and at this point in the Journal was out at sea on a Japanese squid jigger called the Koei Maru 30.

For context it might be worth reading chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘.

Previous chapters (in reverse chronological order) are listed here.

The adventure continues…

 

Sunday 3 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Today I had a lovely lie in – woken by the bell some time around 5am and then by the generator at about 6.15 or so. What it means of course is that I shan’t be able to sleep again tonight.

A bird is on  the deck, seemingly knackered, perhaps dying – I gave it some fish livers which it is eating quite happily. I hope it lives – I may take a piccie.

It is a dolphin gull and I think it has thrown in the towel – poor thing – I wish there was more I could do for it.

Watched Lethal Weapon (4th time) ace film, and smoked loads of ciggies and drank lots of beer and whiskey and am now ready for bed. I miss Deb so much – especially now when I know ‘home time’ is only three weeks away.

Whiskey and cigarettes, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, 1988
Whiskey and cigarettes, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands, 1988

 

Monday 4 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

One year ago today we sat in the Annex (one of the residences at Bangor University where the overseas students lived) garden stuffing ourselves with home made beefburgers and cake and chicken and potato salad and beer and wine and it was a lot of fun – fighting off the mozzies as the chill of the summer evening set in, lighting fireworks and basically having a good time.

I will never forget Moyo’s dancing or Pia’s shirt. Andy Brooks threw a good party and I was happy. How can it all be a year ago? It seems so unfair that life slips by like this.

My cabin, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988
My cabin, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988

Life is sometimes a big disappoitment – never waste it, remember it and live the memories, enjoy them – they’re all we have when we die. Memories are all that is left. I remember Jeremy Jones with a good heart – he lives on in my mind. So sad. I shed a tear every now and then. How can he be gone? That’s it, he’s over.

My seagull has disappeared – I pray that it lived and flew off.

Sleep once again accompaned by a wee dram of scotch.

Slept well for a change (probably the five steaks!).

 

Tuesday 5 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Spoke to Liz on the blower.

I should be getting back to Port Stanley round about the 17th or so, but in looking at this I realise that it is a Sunday, so it will have to be the 15th or the 18th – it will be fun breaking the news to the Fishing Master!

Processsing deck, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988
Processsing deck, Koei Maru 30, Falkland Islands 1988

I must be barmy bonkers.

Wrote a letter to Deb in which I told her that I smoke now,

God I wish I didn’t – my lungs now are burning and full of shit. I am in very poor condition. I dislike myself at the moment.

I wish I was home – I wish I didn’t have this blasted job.

Sod the expeience!

Sod this!

I miss home, and I’m ultra pissed off and my cabin is too hot and I’m sweating!

Bollocks!

 

Wednesday 6 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Slept terribly, only to wake up this morning and celebrate a day of no fishing. What makes today even better is the fact that we are sheltering from the rough seas in the shadow of Pebble Island.

I therefore am relatively happy

Very little else to write about – these non-working days are very long indeed.

32. Rough seas

Some readers of this blog may wonder why my avatar image is a rockhopper penguin, well there are two reasons…

  1. It is a lot more attractive than yet another balding white middle-aged man on the Interweb.
  2. It links to the original purpose of Natural Adventures, which was to digitise my daily log that I wrote whilst serving as a Fisheries Scientist in the Falkland Islands in 1988. (More about this in chapter 1, ‘An ill wind‘).

The adventure continues…

 

Thursday 30 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I have been rattled and am livid. Abe the Ice Master has taken it upon himself to be mildly aggressive towards me today – probably because he fell over quite nastily in a playful attack on me earlier on. It is all really petty, but he keeps taking the fish I’m about to use in a sample, and since the fish are few and far between, this considerably holds me up. Basically he’s just a turd and this is the first fury I’ve been in for a long time, so I’m entitled to it.

Aaarg

I have calmed down a bit now, and watched the conclusion of ‘the Goonies’ – what a crap film!

I love grooming the papers – here is a little gem from The Times.

Press notice for Aztec Camera (a favourite band) playing in Aberdeen.
Press notice for Aztec Camera (a favourite band) playing in Aberdeen.

It has actually turned out OK in the end. Abe came to my room late to get some whiskey, which is stockpiled here and gave me a bottle – perhaps he was feeling a little guilty for his behaviour to day – I don’t know.

Two more weeks of this hell and then Port Stanley – then home.

How can a soul be expected to wait for such things?

 

Friday 1 July 1988. Koei Maru 30

Well I’ve cracked another month out here, and have only gone slightly round the bend. It seems the KM30 will piss off shortly after me, which is fine by me, I don’t care what Fishops say.

I will be quite sad to say goodbye or sayonara to this lot, they’ve been quite an experience and certainly enriched my life a whole lot. But I shall be glad when it is all over.

I’m so glad I wrote something earlier today ‘cos I’m knackered.

I have started helping around the placeas an auxiliary crew member – quite fun really and as usual it kills time.

I’ve started a collection of jigs for fishing and showing people, with talks in mind.

It rained and snowed today, for about five minutes of each.

I’m working on justifying stealing the helmet I intend to nick when I leave the ship. I think I deserve it and it will be a brilliant reminder of my three months on the KM30.

Wrote to Deb.

 

Saturday 2 July 1988. Koei Maru

Well what a day – I must be writing this in about a force 9 or 10 sea. It is ridiculous.

We began fishing, but abandoned two thirds of the line to haul when it gets better.

This is the roughest it has been since I joined the KM30.

Earlier today I got my leg smashed by the work table during a roll. Completely bonkers and very painful – Itai!

Sketch showing how the table slid across the floor and smashed my leg
Sketch showing how the table slid across the floor and smashed my leg

I lost my otolith board and it took 1/2 an hour to find it in the debris. Jokes about rough seas (it’s really rough) just aren’t funny any more – it was bloody dangerous today!

The Fishing Master says we’ll call into Port Stanley on the 17th no problem, but seems to think that they’ll finish then!

Impossible to get to sleep again. Thinking about death, tax, etc – such a worrier!

31. Long, tiring days

This is another of my infrequent posts which is what Natural Adventures was originally set up for. For those of you unfamiliar with my Falkland Islands journal I will offer a quick recap. In 1988 I landed a job as a fisheries scientist working with the Falkland Islands Government on a contract just shy of a year. This blog is a faithful digitisation of the journal I wrote on that trip. For me, this is a catharsis, for you it may be an insight into the mind of a 24 year old on an exciting and challenging adventure.

The scene is set in the first post ‘An Ill Wind‘, which you might like to read for context.

 

Suday 26 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

Aah, at last a day off. I slept so terribly, the rough sea rolled me about something rotten. It is a little better now, but would have been terrible if we had tried a set (setting the longline) this morning.

I think my stomach bugs are caused by the sashimi! my body just isn’t used to it. I must confess that the raw tuna is excellent.

Wrote letters to Mum and Ad and to Deb.

I have been considering a reply to Karen’s rather frustrated letter in which she seems to ask ‘what are we doing here?’ or something similar.

I’ve thought of many answers, but some may seem a little brutal, and sinceshe thinks I am a brute anyway I don’t want to upset her again.

Began to write my schedule for other scientists (I refuse to call them observers) who will work on the KM30 while I am on leave, namnely Crag and Phil.

I am still furious about my tax position with PDA – this company seems to be nothing but trouble.

 

Monday 27 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

A beautiful sunrise – I wonder if I will see such lovely sights again when I return to the UK – for starters I don’t think I will ever be up in time!

I hear Africa calling

Africa calling

Possibly cos I’m listening to African Sanctus at this moment.

Some more pretty corals today – I should be able to build up quite a good collection.

Several albatross were caught up in the lines today – I think they go for the squid bait  when the line is deployed and get caught up, dragged down and drown – it is very sad indeed. I also thought it was unlucky to kill an albatross, but maybe that is only if it is intentional.

Black browed albatross and giant peterels alongside the Koei Maru 30, 1988
Black browed albatross and giant peterels alongside the Koei Maru 30, 1988

Not long now ’til home.

 

Tuesday 28 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I’m getting sick and tired of saying long, tiring day, but today really was – I hope I get some decent sleep.

Had a good radio chat with Elizabeth today – she’s also due for a break in August. She gets two holidays in the time I’ve only had one! RAW DEAL!

The fishing was ace today – I hope it puts egg on the Fishing Master’s face – the crew were working fairly close to capacity I reckon.

5 tons/day, yeah pull the other one shortie!

Zone IV has been the best covered so far – all this is quite a laugh really.

Wrote a letter to Beth – very sweet of her, Charlie and Carl to write, but thwen I suppose I did write first. Letters are my life-blood.

Watching ‘With love from Oregon ’87’ for the third time – what a terrible drama, but a gorgeous half Indian (red) (OMG – we don’t say that these days – native north American) half Japanese girl of about 16 in the starring role.

I now feel at ease with all but two of the crew – ‘Rolf Harris’ and Iagi – they don’t seem to want to be friendly. I’ve made good friends with the grumpy old man – he’s really quite a good bloke.

Abe and Abe, crew members of the Koei Maru 30
Abe and Abe, crew members of the Koei Maru 30

Aah – shower and bed – nice.

 

Wednesday 29 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

A short day – it became too rough to set more than 60 lines (baskets). It was all over by 7.30am. So I decided to sleep, to make up for lost sleep last night – unfortunately this means that I won’t be tired and won’t be able to sleep tonight – vicious circle.

It’s funny but however hard I try I just can’t conjure up any original thoughts – I have none, so my diary becomes a dull, dreary account of my days and not an abstract random selection of my thoughts. I hope the reader (if any) will bear with me. It must be obvious that I’m not very happy at the moment, perhaps this can explain sume of this mundainity (is there such a word?).

As I write I often wonder if any of my children or grandchildren (if I have any) will pick up my diaries and read them. Perhaps they will understand me better for it and see into who I am a little more clearly.

 

27. Souvenirs

I have neglected my Falkland adventure in favour of street art and haiku poems, but this blog began with a digitisation of a diary I wrote in 1988 whilst working as a fisheries scientist in the South Atlantic. I feel it is time for me to add another section from the diary. The context to this diary is set out in the first post I wrote entitled ‘An ill wind‘. I recommend you read this first post to get a feel for what this is all about. All of the posts can be seen in the ‘Falkland Journal, 1988’ category to the left of the screen. Enjoy.

 

Wednesday 8 June 1988. Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Today there is a general strike. Like yesterday it is cool and overcast, but I can overcome this in my new jacket. Yo ho.

Most of the day on the Koei Maru 30. Watched bits od several films and then all of ‘Lethal Weapon’…again, and also a film called ‘Gotcha’. it was ok.

Ate my first sizable meal of sushimi today, it was good.

The Fishing Master told me, if I understood correctly, that his wife didn’t want him back, so he is prepared to stay in the zone as long as you like. Poor chap. I don’t really understand. Anyway it seems that if another observer comes on board, they will work, but not talk to him. Nice!?!

El Fogon – hotel bar – bed.

Thursday 9 June 1988. Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

‘So begins another weary day’ Grey Day.

Souvenirs

Souvenirs, Koei Maru 30, June 1988
Souvenirs, Koei Maru 30, June 1988

A very boring day on the Koei Maru 30. Oh I don’t know if I can bear it any more.

The crew seem to be in real ‘micky-taking’ mood, I think it has something to do with being in Montevideo.

It didn’t look like much refueling was going on today, so perhaps Brazil, here we come – who knows?

Friday 10 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

I checked out.

My visa receipt (N$ 103,172) amounts to roughly £172 for 11 days – a touch better than Emma’s

For the rest of the day I tried to kill time on the boat. I have forgotten how difficult it is. All the crew except Iyagi, who was on watch and in a horrific mood, and ‘Acne man’, had gone out on the town for the last time.

I needless to say, stayed in – no money no inclination. I bought a few special treats for myself, but stupidly some tobacco.

Saturday 11 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

We are at sea again – there was an eerie mist heralding a beautiful clear day – I took a few slides.

Leaving Montevideo, Koei Maru 30, June 1988
Leaving Montevideo, Koei Maru 30, June 1988

Leaving Montevideo, Koei Maru 30, June 1988
Leaving Montevideo, Koei Maru 30, June 1988

I have missed breakfast – quite a relief – it looks like eggs, eggs, eggs like before.

Saw loads of Magellanic penguins, but otherwise very little of interest happened.

Leaving Montevideo, Koei Maru 30, June 1988
Leaving Montevideo, Koei Maru 30, June 1988

Watched some films, including Indie Jones and the Temple of Doom – an irritating but quite enjoyable movie.

Sencho now tells me that when I go for my holiday, the Koei Maru will head for Japan – that’s not fair, it’s blackmail!

Sunday 12 June 1988. Koei Maru 30

The clocks on board are now set to Falkland time. I am overjoyed – I exaggerate. Radiod Mt ?? of KSJ to say that I’ll radio Fishops at KSJ tomorrow at 9.00 am. I have so much to say to John.

?? = Okaido or something of that sort.

It has become fairly rough and I have got my usual ‘second day at sea headache’.

I sorted things out with the Fishing Master and radio Radar – all seems ok-ish. They will also talk with John tomorrow.

Phoned Deb – highlight of the last fortnight – I am deliriously happy. I can’t help thinking though that she may have met someone – who can blame her? I would die if she had.

Abe said I could phone home tomorrow.

Radio Head, Koei Maru 30, June 1988
Radio Head, Koei Maru 30, June 1988

 

 

26. All alone

I haven’t written in this category of my blog for a long while, so for the benefit of the one or two visitors who are reading this blog for the first time I will attempt to provide a little context. It would be worthwhile having a quick read of the first entry ‘An Ill Wind‘. In short, this is a faithful digitisation of a journal I kept when working in the Falkland Islands and South Atlantic in 1988. I am doing this mostly for me, but really hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Sunday 5 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

A beautiful day indeed. I wish Jim wasn’t going or that I could go with him.I accompanied him to the departure stop and we chatted a while. Some older ladies turned up for the same tour (poor Jim). We said our goodbyes and I promised to get in touch the minute I get home.

I have been smoking too much recently, it is the influence of Jim. I must stop. I feel the damage it does to my lungs. I will limit myself to 4 only each day and vow not to buy cigarettes or tobacco in England.

I promise (signed) Stephen

The boatswain said we will probably leave Monte on or about the 10 June, so I have to cope with 4 nights alone in Monte – I will join the Koei Maru 30 the day before she sails. The Fishing Master is very curt with me – he is venting his disapproval of the proposals (for extended fishing) on me, it isn’t fair. Today I will begin to tick off the days until I return home (see back).

Alone I ventured to the Fogon – very depressing I thought – it’s not the same without a friend to chat to.

After, it was a case of a whiskey solo in the hotel bar before retiring at 9.45pm (pitiful) to read a book and write some letters. I am reading another Theroux novel, ‘the Black House’, it isn’t as attention-grabbing as some of his others.

Monday 6 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

The start of another week during which work on the vessel should be completed. Breakfast alone – the waiter asked me where my friend had gone. “Iguazu” I said, and thought – sod him!

It’s a no no on the jacket – possibly they’ll have one tomorrow – I doubt it. If I pay by visa it’ll cost more !?!

Well Mr Chiba (the Fishing Master) can’t hack it, he’s leaving for japan, and another Fishing Master will join the Koei Maru 30. This is a revelation and perhaps explains his odd behaviour the last few days. We had a hearty chat and quite a lot of fun, so things between us are now well again.

Refit of the processing deck on the Koei Maru 30, Montevideo, June 1988
Refit of the processing deck on the Koei Maru 30, Montevideo, June 1988

Quite surprisingly I went to the Fogon again. Oddjob was there alone and behaved a bit like a caveman. Oddjob (not his real name) is one of the new crew members on the Koei Maru. I returned to the hotel bar and quaffed a couple of neat whiskeys and read the TLS (Times Literary Supplement), rather classy I thought. My partner in crime was a young woman (28ish) rather attractive who sat two tables away facing me. She sipped her gin and tonic and pretended to read and write some notes.

Then to bed. Alone! I could never make an advance – I’m too bloody shy.

In the Fogon there had been a power cut – ace fun – it only lasted about five minutes but for all that time the place was plunged into darkness.

Tuesday 7 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

The waiter volunteered the information this morning, that the solo girl is English. He made several other suggestions, I think I got the gist, but “benita chica” was one. I breakfasted alone. How is it possible to ask an attractive girl if she would mind if I sat with her, without making her feel I was trying to pick her up. I must convince myself first.

Dreamed that Louise had a helicopter crash – it was so vivid and nasty, but she lived. Somehow she caused 29 million pounds worth of damage to a new airport hangar.

I bought the jacket. I hope I like it. Hip and cool and $185 roughly £100. But best of all, made today, for me, in Uruguay.

 

Guess where I ate…

Spoke to the English woman at the bar and chatted for a long time. Alas she goes tomorrow, and I will once again be alone in Monte, but it was great to have a long English conversation with someone new. Refreshing.

My opening words (so embarrassing) were “excuse me, but are you English?” She was delightful. Frightfully delicate and well spoken – about 30-35 – very reminiscent of Dr Brown (my university tutor). Independent. She was a freelance writer, but involved with English linguistics and Heinemann educational. I told her I lived near Bedford Square. I didn’t even ask her name – it didn’t seem important and hardly worth it really. So bloody English.

Watched return of the Jedi – ace film.

And drank the water from the tap in my bathroom – if I should collapse and die, this is why.

 

25. Topless

There may be one or two visitors who are reading this blog for the first time. To provide a little context, it would be worthwhile having a quick read of the first entry ‘An Ill Wind‘. In short this is a faithful digitisation of a journal I kept when working in the Falkland Islands and South Atlantic in 1988. Enjoy.

Wednesday 1 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Summer isn’t here at last. It is clearly Autumn, the plethora of leaves littered by the London plane trees tell the story well enough. Got my camera past the dock gates – took some Montevideo piccies, but not many. It is quite nerve racking using a camera, each picture may be your last.

Since this is a stick in page, I may as well put in some misfits.

Falkland Islands May Ball 1988, ticket
Falkland Islands May Ball 1988, ticket

Emma's Guest House bill, May 1988
Emma’s Guest House bill, May 1988

I was mightily pissed off by all on the KM30, they were not helpful at all. I think there is a conspiracy against me.

Iguazu is out for me, it seems that it must be for eight days or nothing. I can’t give up the time.

We went to the el Fogon a restaurant (still there, I just checked on google) for lunch and also for supper and then on to a topless nightclub.

What an experience! It was like watching an American film- the two uninterested dancers weaved and twisted out of time to the music on podia which allowed a maximum half-stride in any direction. After a while at the bar, Jim and I were approached by a call girl/prostitute who couldn’t understand why we were at the club if we didn’t want a girl. Were we gay? No.

Basically it was a knocking shop and although Jim and I want to return, I think it could be a mistake. Nonetheless it was an experience and life is made up of experiences.

Thursday 2 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel 

Fun, fun, fun – Jim and I bought leather jackets. His was much nicer than mine, but was also more than double the price. Mine was US$75.

I have decided to get another like Jim’s but at US$185 (£100) it is a little on the expy side.

Belfast Leather Factory, the place for leather jackets. Montevideo June 1988
Belfast Leather Factory, the place for leather jackets. Montevideo June 1988

Jim has decided on the jacket and Iguazu, lucky thing, meanwhile I am to be left, festering in Monte. I’m so glad he has been here up to now.

Nicer weather, clearer skies.

Friday 3 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

Shaved again – I’ve got those lumps and spots once more – it is definitely shaving that produces these infections. Will I ever be free of them?

My jacket, the more I look at it the more I feel is cheap. It will be ok for a ‘rough and tumble’ in the UK, but I am only proud of it because it is Uruguayan.

The sun is at this moment pouring into my hotel room, a seemingly impossible feat given the angle of the room, window and sun.

View from the roof of the London Palace Hotel, Montevideo. June 1988
View from the roof of the London Palace Hotel, Montevideo. June 1988

I am quite pissed off that Jim is going on Sunday, I have enjoyed his company – being alone will be quite boring, but perhaps I’ll meet someone or something – things usually work out alright in the end.

We went again to the topless bar (called Baires). What a seedy dump. Once again we were both approached – in my case by a girl called Giselle? Anyhow we kept a stiff upper lip, refused all approaches and thought ourselves very cool for being so good. I think Jim could quite easily be tempted if I wasn’t here, but if I wasn’t here then he wouldn’t be here at all, so all’s well.

Saturday 4 June 1988, Montevideo, London Palace Hotel

A sunny day to wake up to.

Today we went wandering and Wandering. La la la. Jim cocked up on the money front and I bailed him out with US$100. I have worked out that he owes me on the basis of $1.83 dollars to the pound: £54.65 + £8.21 for the other money I lent him, giving a total of £62.86.

Went to the boat and took a hook and line (snood). Watched a German league football match on the TV.

Bought a gourd for Deb and a leather notebook, perhaps for Emily.

Lovely day all day. Jim and I went out onto the hotel roof.

After a very pleasant meal at Otto’s – a more exclusive restaurant than el Fogon we pootled on to the show below:

Flyer from the nightclub, Montevideo June 1988
Flyer from the nightclub, Montevideo June 1988

It was really seedy – it included a ‘free’ drink in the £1.60 entrance fee. What a laugh. The film was a very cheap British Caligula Caesar film, terrible. The strip was more like modern dance performed entirely without interest. The girls and bloke can’t earn much more than about a tenner a day. It was a real gas. Jim and I then went off solemnly to our hotel rooms.