Sunday, 19 September 2010

Shiver me Timbers

What started as a joke between two friends, John Baur and Mark Summers in Oregon, USA in 1995, is now a well known international event for some people, an event I saw for the first time last year. I couldn't believe it when I saw it either, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Of course, close to me is the fishing port of Kingston upon Hull, so there is an affinity with the sea in this part of the country, but let's concentrate on the lighter side of the subject of Pirates.

What a superb subject and for those of us of a certain era who grew up with Robert Newton's stunningly brilliant Long John Silver, the phrase 'Arrrrr Jim lad,' said with a growl is everyone's attempt at becoming a pirate.
So, you should start the day with ''Ahoy shipmate' or how about a quick 'Avast there!' or something similar. No? Go on, just for a laugh.

Robert Newton (from here)

The 'patron saint' of pirates, Robert Newton was a
n actor most kids today wouldn't recognise I guess. He played Silver in Disney's Treasure Island back in 1950 and Blackbeard in 1952 and Long John Silver in 1954. Who would forget his Inspector Fix who followed David Niven's Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days in 1956. In all his life, Newton never shook off the pirate character and his death at the age of 50 in 1956 was alcoholism related.

Perhaps you have to be wacky to be a pirate character. Typically west country (UK) accent if you are an English pirate, fearless, cunning and somewhat of a rogue. Johnny Depp created the masterpiece of Captain Jack Sparrow in
Pirate of the Caribbean series of films (the actor says, based on a famous English rock and roll star.

There have been other pirates on celluloid, Errol Flynn played swashbuckler Captain Blood (brilliant but too debonair and posh accent for me) way back in 1935. Peter Pan struggled against arch rival Captain Hook and Charles Laughton played Captain William Kidd in 1945. Even Warner Brothers pitched Yosemite Sam as Captain Hareblower against his old adversary Bugs Bunny in 1954, voiced of course by Mel Blanc.

And what would be the point of being a pirate if you didn't have a treasure map where 'X' marked the spot. Who hasn't drawn a treasure map? Own up.

Even further back, Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirate of Penzance, a band of orphans terrorising the Cornish Coast of England is a well known musical story which still entertains some of us today.

So there we go, so how about a quick chorus (nobody's watching - go on) of 'Fifteen men on a dead man's chest.' Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this chorus for
Treasure Island and left the rest to our imagination:

"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest...
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Drink and the Devil had done for the rest...

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum."

Have a great day me hearties...

Chat to ye soon



  1. Arrrr Jimlad. Well that's my attempt ;)

  2. Avast ye Magnumlady
    Tis good enough for meeeee! Ha haaaaaar