112. Millennium Parade

One of the unintended consequences of developing the Bristol harbourside has been the erection of hoardings in front of unrented retail spaces. Being Bristol, these would have been magnets for graffiti of all kinds. It would appear that the developers commissioned Cheo, a prolific local artist, to paint the hoardings to brighten up the area, and to prevent others from scrawling.

Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, December 2015
Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, December 2015

This four panel mural tells a story of a giant squid and pirates; a suitably nautical theme for Bristol.

Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, November 2015
Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, November 2015

People seem to take these murals for granted. Every time I go to Millennium Parade I watch, and I have never seen anyone stop to look at the art although I am sure they are conscious of it.

Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, December 2015
Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, December 2015

As always Cheo has plastered the panels with his trademark bees.

Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, December 2015
Cheo, Millennium Parade, Bristol, December 2015

7/10

19.Turning Japanese

Wednesday 4 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

It is almost the end of Wednesday. Yesterday was quite a busy day…by yesterday I mean last night. Although there were very few squid, I managed to do two samples. I also helped remove the viscera from the bodies for my second sample. These squid will be used as presents for the crew’s families.

image

I cannot eat my breakfast yet because all the crew members are asleep in the ship’s mess/saloon. I must wait until the ship stops, although I have no idea when that will be.

Thursday 5 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

It is just as well that I drew those pictures, because I wrote practically nothing yesterday. Instead I read and wrote letters. This evening I have hurt my back again, just a little twinge this time, but a warning

We have sailed west to the edge of the zone. I would not like to leave it. I think the Argies have some fishing patrol boats of their own, and I would not like to be boarded by an Argentinian fisheries officer.

I am now looking forward to a bit of time in Port Stanley, I have been out at sea this time for three weeks now! I would quite like a bit of fun time on a patrol vessel – I would like to use the gymnasium.

image

Slept very badly once again. I may have to resort to a couple of stugeron fairly soon. Watched Deathwish – a good film despite having seen it twice before and it being in Japanese! Another week is over. Three gone, how many left to go?

I want Stanley (nowlookatthemessyou’vegottenmeinto) soon. I cannot eat much more of this rich food without having a heart attack.

Friday 6 May 1988, Koei Maru 30

Not a bad day. The best part was hearing from John on the radio that I would be picked up by a fishing patrol boat on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Obviously a lot depends on the weather, but I live in hope. Otherwise I could be stuck on here until about 20 May – this would be terrible.

I may have made another real blunder on the radio, when complaining to John that the conversion factor is way out. He seemed to brush it aside casually and changed the subject pronto. oops!

I had three beers (and 3three cigs – God they’re bad for you) and watched TV and slept, and slept, and slept.

Curious dreams:

  • Busking competition in a library, some trendy geezer borrowed my guitar and played it from the neck, letting it dangle…

image

  • Jim and I are going to a pub in Highgate full of weirdos and under-age drinkers – I try to order a bottle of cider for Jim and two pints of bitter for me. It takes an hour for me to get served, during which time Tippy (my step brother) appears with a rucksack on his back. Jim has disappeared when I get served, somebody nicks my bottle of cider and I get furious and rude, but end up with a beer tipped all over me in the struggle.
  • Working in a bank with a whole bunch of moaning graduates. Mealtime is £10 a head to eat at the bank, with yellow lobster, cucumbers, lettuce, salami, but nothing to drink, so we all trundle off down the road…it becomes Covent Garden…to a small shop to get some orange drink from a kind of pump, which I can’t operate. Too bad, I only get half an orange drink. I return to the bank, the front of which has turned into a pub, but the bank is inside, to find that most people have now finished their lunches. I contemplate this and decide that sandwiches are the best way out of this terrible situation.

14. Pissed off

My 1988 Falkland Island journal continues…

Sunday 17 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

Getting pretty pissed off out here – the weather is non-descript, overcast. I am in permaslumber and can’t break out. My cabin is too hot, probably causing my drowsiness, the work is bloody boring and most other activities send me to sleep.

A letter to the TLS (click to read)
A letter to the TLS (click to read)

I found an interesting letter in the TLS. I wonder if Ad had tactfully neglected to send the issue with the original article in it – I will have to ask him.

I have seen two more birds, one yesterday and one today:

a little grey and white bird, round and small, ‘flying’ underwater. I’ve seen it on the wall chart, but don’t remember the name;

a tern-like bird, very white with a grey cap and light grey wing uppers. A sleek bird with a forked tail.

Monday 18 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

I damn well slept again from 24:00 until 02:00. It is driving me bonkers. I shouldn’t need an ‘afternoon’ kip after having some ten hours or more night’s sleep. What is happening to me?

Walked into the bridge to find the Fishing Master in his underpants and vest. This is the first time this has happened. It is impossible to know what to do. I cannot ignore him (which I do), because it is so obvious. I cannot leave, because I have work to do.

I slept from 06:30 to 12:30, ready to eat steak, but I have just found the Fishing Master in the kitchen and I think he is eating my food. Revenge is sweet.

Falkland Island 1988 29p stamp
Falkland Island 1988 29p stamp

I managed to get a steak in the end. Wrote to Nick B and to Deb.

I have bumped my head countless times today. It’s a bastard, I’ve got lumps on my head now. It seems to happen as I pass through doorways.

Tuesday 19 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

I hate to admit it, but I wrote nothing today…little happens.

The young 20 year old crew member is sick.

Wednesday 20 April 1988, Koei Maru 30

I think this trip will go faster than the last, especially since I know that it is the last voyage for squid.

I also know that the KM30 will call in at Port Stanley on the 15th to tranship squid with the last KSJ reefer before setting out for a further 10 days.

Monitoring and recording squid, 1988
Monitoring and recording squid, 1988

I set a good quiz for Gavin, which I enjoyed doing, but at this moment, 05:00 I am very pissed off indeed – I don’t know why, I suppose there are many reasons. One which occurs to me immediately is that squid are horrible. I hate bloody squid…I’m even beginning to hate the taste of it. This is a shitty job anyway – yeah, great, so I’ll have a few anecdotes to bore my friends with, but basically it’s shitty. Who else would do this kind of work, that had spent 4 years at university? nobody.

 

12. Ashore

The digitisation of my Falkland Islands journal from 1988 continues, with the following section, in which I reach Port Stanley after a long maiden voyage on the Japanese squid jigger ‘Koei Maru 30. All sections in italics, like this one, are comments or observations from now. I try to keep these interruptions to a minimum and stick to what the 24 year old me wrote.

JFHR, Callsign of the Koei Maru 30
JFHR, Callsign of the Koei Maru 30

Monday 11 April 1988, Port Stanley, Malvina House Hotel.

I was picked up. My prayers were answered. The ‘Beagle’ came for me at about 3-4pm. I shared the trip with a couple of hospital cases from various ships – one had a badly injured arm and winced every time we hit a bump (frequently). The other just looked unwell.

Koei Maru 30, Squid Jigger
Koei Maru 30, Squid Jigger

The post was fantastic – to hear from Deb and home. Gavin sent the most incredible letter, which was almost word for word the same as mine (to him). We know each other sinisterly well.

e.g. Beard – he asks for a lock – I sent a bit. Stanley jokes, Arsenal jokes, broken computer joke.

Deb’s letters make me very cheerful, and then very sad – I miss her very much.

I was sad – very sad to hear about Great Uncle John – my mother is so good at these times.

I loved John – I have an outstanding memory of him – about 14-15 years ago, when he, grandpa and I went for a sail in the yacht (Henrietta or Nettie Too) and anchored at a beach near St Anthony’s. We swam ashore – I was assisted on John’s back. I will never forget it (and I never have). The clarity of the water, the heat of the day. Two old men and a young boy swimming. On an outing. It makes me cry. Times gone. Poor John.

It is 7.09 am – I woke at 5.30 but at least got a decent 6 1/2 hours sleep – at night!

In the next few days I will have loads of cuttings to put into this diary.

There is so much to talk about, I will try to spread it out over a period of days.

I am staying at the Malvina Hotel (a little expy, but comfortable).

Malvinas House Hotel in 1988
Malvina House Hotel in 1988

I rang Deb – but unfortunately she was out at a film – she will be so disappointed to have missed me. Damn.

Instead I rang home and had a great conversation with Ma and Ad. Ad said that David Copperfield being my favourite book, was the ‘best news I’ve had in twenty years’ – jokingly.

Leaping forward to July 2015 – reflecting back on this journal, this is a deeply poignant passage for me. My stepfather, Ad, has since passed away, but as a father myself now, I realise how proud he must have felt at that moment. I was never one who cared much for literature in my youth, but David Copperfield was a major turning point in my life. Ad had encouraged me for many years to read amazing books, but I resisted his wisdom, feigning interest, but I had much better things to do. I now have the same interactions with my own son, and I realise there is hope, and he will have his ‘Dickens’ moment.

Tuesday 12 April, Port Stanley, Malvina House Hotel.

Worked all day in the office – statolithing loligo with Andrea? one of the school leavers. They are all very chatty and self-confident. They all seem to have this independent streak.

I was up at 2.30 this morning and couldn’t sleep. It is terrible.

Bedroom at Malvina House Hotel, 1988
Bedroom at Malvina House Hotel, 1988

Spoke to Deb on the telephone – it was really good to hear her – she sounded so close. She has sent lots of post and seen my slides – I’m glad she has.

Went to the globe with Crag and met the history and biology teachers from the school – I forget their names, but what a nice couple – completely bonkers. They are actually looking after Andrea at the moment – Stanley is a very small world.

I must mention the sylph-like girl up at Cable and Wireless when I went to phone Deb. She was the first female I have been in any attracted to since I arrived. She reminds me of Deb. Petite, very lively and bouncy, confident and very sweet. I have no designs, but she makes me happy (I’ve only seen her for about five minutes).

11. Land Ho!

Wednesday 6 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

My breakfast (actually yesterday) was steak again, with prawns, chips and macaroni. 3 enormous steaks was all I could manage. I am beginning to tire a little of them, but I do love them so.

The time is going quickly now. The days drift from one into another and I’m sure that in no time at all I shall be home on holiday. I think for me Italy has to be the answer.

I have just eaten a fruit salad that had some peculiar jelly-like cubes in it. They were clear and disintegrated much more easily than jelly. I asked Abe what it was and he said it was made from ‘sea leaf’ so I take it that it is agar gel from seaweed. It was completely tasteless and probably only in the fruit salad as a cheap filler, like sawdust in sausages.

From the same conversation it looks like we will be returning to Stanley on the 9th or 10th of this month – it is good to know that it is sooner rather than later!

Thursday 7 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I can’t help thinking that my diary and my mind’s capabilities are being severely disrupted by the volume of letters I am writing – they are sapping my inspiration. I also feel cheap because of them – I write many of the same things to people – sometimes using exactly the same words…

e.g. Houses in Stanley – Allotment garden. ‘Well to do’ shanti town.

Reading a great deal – David Copperfield. Theroux.

Zzz snore! – I only hope that those to whom I am writing enjoy the letters I suppose it is better than no letter at all.

Her waggoner, a small grey coated gnat,

Not half so big as a little round worm

Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid;

Her chariot is an empty hazel nut 

Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,

Time out o’minds the fairies’ coach makers.

And in this state, she gallops night by night

Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love

O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight;

O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;

O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream;

Nananuma has been very sweet. He has made an order for cornflakes and milk for the next voyage – what a good bloke.

It is at this moment as I write (10 minutes to 7am) and it is still not light, and very little sign of becoming so.

Friday 8 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Radioed Crag today – I definitely have a month off in Britain. Much of the conversation was about getting picked up, time in Stanley etc…

image

I have talked with the crew much more over the past couple of days. The poor chaps care only about one thing – sex – they wait with eagerness to get to Montevideo, so they can see ‘street girls’. I find this very depressing – they discuss very little else.

I am in a bit of a void at the moment, reading wise; the print in HG Wells selected short stories is too small and I have difficulty reading it. The alternative, Conrad’s Typhoon, is impossible – the dictionary syndrome – it is irritation to a degree. I have a mental block with Conrad.

Saturday 9 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

How odd. I was sitting wondering what to do, trying to shake off a terrible dreariness when:

image

So off I went. A message came from the KSJ office to say that the ETA for Koei Maru No30 in Stanley will be 7.00 tomorrow morning – they will arrange for me to be collected by the warrah.

This is good news – whoopee! yahoo! A day early

The other bonkers thing is that it has turned out to be bloody cold and when I came back from the radio room it was bloody snowing hard. Can you believe it? Yup. April bonkers showers.

Sunday 10 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I got up with the sun, although I hadn’t been able to sleep a wink, I feel at least that I have been to bed. It is a very cold morning and the ship has arrived in Berkeley Sound – it is almost enough to make me cry, to see land again – it is beautiful and covered in a light scattering of snow. I must brace myself for the bad news that I might not be picked up until tomorrow – God I hope it’s today. A lovely thought – after my week in Stanley, only half of April will be left and then it will be May.

10. Romeo and Juliet

Sunday 3 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

I wonder how Arsenal did yesterday. I have written to Sean, holding him to his promise of sending me cuttings of Arsenal’s progress.

I have almost finished David Copperfield. What a deeply moving book – I find myself laughing and crying throughout the book. I shall be sad to finish it.

I spend my whole time looking forwards or backwards in time. I keep making plans for Deb and me to go on  a holiday together for a week – perhaps to a Greek island, or to Sicily or to Corsica or to Siena or anywhere – I live in that dream.

I also think much about my school days and the third chapter in my life – Cholmely, but I can’t put it on paper yet. (Cholmely was the upper-junior school that I went to from age 9-11)

I am learning Queen Mab’s speech – this is what I know.

She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate-stone

On the fore-finger of an alderman:

Drawn with a team of little atomies

Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep

I have finished D.C. – I am sad at this prospect. I feel I have myself lived the life of David Copperfield, that I have loved little Emily and that I do love Agnes. Having finished, I am left with the grim reality that I am thousands of miles away from my family and close friends. While Dickens can act to halt progression of my ‘disease’, he cannot cure it. I lived each minute of that book. I know intimately my Aunt, Mr Dick, Dr Strong and his wife Anne, Traddles whom I consider to be a best friend. What a sadness that they are all dead, the author too. Enough mourning. I must read some other books. (It’s lucky I bought so many!). (11 days for Copperfield!)

blog pics  001 10 July 15

A comment from the present day (2015) to put the significance of this last entry into some kind of context. I was never much of a reader in my youth, and only reluctantly read books on into my twenties, preferring to bury myself in my studies, or watching TV. Looking back, I think reading David Copperfield was a life-changing event. There are many of these kinds of events in this journal.

There are also the first signs of a ‘madness’ creeping into my writings, and it feels a bit strange reading them now.

Monday 4 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Wrote to Pia and Louise B. Both good friends and good company – as before – writing to them made me feel I was with them – what an incredible thing the mind is.

Milk in a ring-pull can!!

blog pics  002 10 July 15

Sabudo gave me a crate of this stuff – he is looking after me very well indeed. what a good bloke.

Continued Mabs:

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs;

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;

The traces, of the smallest spider’s web;

The collars, of the moonshines watery beams;

Her whip, of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film;

I radioed Stanley and spoke with Crag. I will wait definitely until the KM30 comes into Stanley/Berkley Sound. I am worried about how much time I will actually get on land. I am also worried that I may be being short-changed a bit. Crag said Drin would be coming in, she has been at sea a month – this is not true, she has been at sea less time than me!

Tuesday 5 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Watched ‘Inspector Clouseau’ today on video – what a load of cobbler’s – it was an old film (’60s). The highlight for me was that ‘Catweasel’ was in it, playing a chocolate factory porter/watchman. It was a very weak film indeed, but I’m not sure whether it pre-dates or post dates the Pink Panther films. Wrote to Mr Radford and J&J.

9. Bread

Wednesday 30 March 1988, Koei Maru 30.

Bread – will I ever be able to look another piece of white bread in the face again and say ‘I want you’ ? It seems unlikely.

Since telling Nananuma (the ship’s cook) that I liked bread and butter, he has produced this stale stack for me each breakfast of up to ten thick slices. It is not only stale, but tastes of the plastic it has been kept in.

He thinks he is doing me a kindness by this service, for which reason I oblige him by eating what I can and taking what is left to my cabin, where, I am sorry to say, having festered in my fridge for a couple of days, it is destined for the waste disposal unit which is my toilet. It is slowly driving me bonkers and I feel that somebody, somewhere is watching me do this! Am I guilty?

I saw a beautiful flock of white birds, their reversed silhouettes emphasised by the black sky background and the bright lights of the ship shining towards them. I took unsuccessful photographs. They looked heron-like or egret-like and tried to roost a while on the masts, but were unable to remain long due to the winds forcing over the bow. They had yellow beaks and long black legs with large feet. What were they doing here? (I found out some time later that they get blown off course from the mainland and probably perish at sea.)

Thursday 31 March 1988, Koei Maru 30

At last March is almost over – roll on April, May, June, so that I may be home again.

The sea has come up in a terrible fury, but is still nowhere near as bad as I am sure it can become. I think fishing may be abandoned in this weather, although I am not sure. It will certainly be affected. Good for the squid I say. I cannot help thinking myself that the season ought not to start until April, to enable all those immature females the chance of at least producing and spawning eggs.

Friday 1 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

So, I can’t play any tricks on anybody – but I might be able to do something in a letter or two. Yesterday was maddening – no fishing last night and passing the time was even more difficult than usual. I watched ‘Rocky 2’ – wow, some film! And also two really shitty Japanese films, both looked like they were made on Super 8 or something like that.

I can’t remember when I last ate – eating times were all up the spout yesterday! I must keep up with my letters.

image

Only another ten days or so on board and then aaah land ho!

The crew are much better for their enforced day off – no longer do they walk about like zombies.

Mr Chiba (the fishing master) has had a haircut (it was short to start with)

Abe radar has had a shave. They have all slept well and look refreshed.

image

All is much calmer, but we still roll -like right now for example. Wrote to Jazz and Michael.

Saturday 2 April 1988, Koei Maru 30.

A day just like any other passed by. This is a maelstrom of tedium. I want to go home.