Good News, Bad News – Things I always regretted not to have done
(the last day of 2008)
Let’s start with, as one of my crazy Chief Officer’s used to say to me..The Good News…….’’The good news you little Himalayan Monkey is that the ship gets in to New York harbour tomorrow…. The Bad News…you little hippie of a monkey with Long Hair and High Energy stencilled on your work overalls is…that your shore leave is curtailed until we get back here….after 90 days’
Groan…’Sangha*, Mierda*’..I groan again. Here I was….a D.A.S* just dying to get myself ashore, pay a dime and go under…in to the vast subway of NYC…..get lost within the boroughs of New York……crick my neck looking at the Empire State Building and feel like Charles Bronson, who whipped some New York muggers in ‘Death Wish’…..Central Park, Delancy, Times Square, King Carol Records(Procol Harum), Fifth Avenue, Hells Kitchen, The Grey Hound Bus Station, Soho, CBGBs, Coney Island, Riker’s Island, the Guggenheim Museum and that lonely dollar bill. I mean I felt tall, I felt like a man…hell I’d bunked from the dorms, the day before Jhug day…..I knew my way blind folded from the short cut to town even taking sudden death with pure nonchalance. And here this turnip of the Chief Mate….teaching me…. Damn! I just realized I was a Deck Cadet, the last guy in the chain gang, the first guy to walk the plank…..no name….I was not supposed to be not seen..only heard off on board.
In the raging Atlantic one evening the ‘Old Man*’ heard me whistling on the bridge wing and motioned to me…..’Cadet, come here’ he thundered like a loco hurricane…’what do you think you are doing?’ I whispered…trying to find my voice and with a terrible squeak responded…’I was whistling Sir’…..’Remember you little piece of cordage’ he bellowed…’Only two persons are allowed to whistle on board….Me the Captain and the other…the wind…you understand….DO YOU UNDERSTAND’…I thought the Old man was going to drop dead with his passionate elocution….but then I really hoped not. If he did….who would be able to sail this bloody rust bucket…..All I could search in the heavens were 2 stars…The Pole Star and Arcturus….I thought that was enough to defy all other theories of navigation.
I never made it to New York in the summer of 1973. El Capitano’s wife Anjali, the sweetest bird on board (though mermaids I later besotted in South America were much more…!) got me back from ashore, a bag of jelly beans and a beautiful smile. That was enough, at least for the time being.
As I now think back I do remember dancing with a devooshka* in Kherson. A soviet port in the Black Sea. (USSR) We were there for 35 days..I felt like a free spirit; now a Senior Cadet trying to master the sextant and work the meridian passage of the sun.
Was all this the good that happened to me….along with the bad? Like when the cops picked me up off Red Hook Brooklyn at 0300 hrs…I was jay walking with not a soul around, feeling like a New Yorker; they made me realize I would have probably left my carcass ashore if those muggers had descended on me. Hey when you are a Devil at Seventeen and having just witnessed Van Halen performing at Mad Square Gardens..You are King Man! (New York)
…..then it was time for confession…..
Regrets…of having never had the guts to walk on water(Haridwar)
Never tried eating snake stew..or armadillo meat. (Colombia)
Never tried riding a Harley Davidson… (Indonesia)
Never been to a Judas Priest concert…. (Manchester)
Never been beyond Simla Hills to the mountains beyond…. (Himachal)
Never had the courage to ask that maiden for a dance… (Beau Comeau, Canada)
Never wore purple trousers to lunch… (Until I was 52 in Delhi)
But I did take my beautiful children in to the Kilenagarden in the dead of winter…. With temperatures at -15C and they all padded in the warmest….I poured hot chocolate as it steamed..and grilled sausages on an open log fire; tasting the mustard!..out there Vanern Lake was frozen solid and the children were dancing on ice! (Sweden)
We travelled First Class on the train to Jodhpur and having looked down at the Blue City….took the night train to Jaisalmer. I even purchased a silver bell (Rajasthan)…remembering the Pundit at Kali Bari Temple as he swayed and swooned performing aarti at dusk. (Simla)
..And we sampled Guinness…a tall glass, a heavy sweet brew and ate brown bread sandwiches with Parma ham and rocket (Dublin)
Enjoying a late summer evening..on the agriturismo farm sampling the local vino (Sicily)
Right now, Right Here……something what Jesus Jones sang….
It’s the 31th of December 2008 and -5C outside (Karlstad, Sweden)
This goes out to ye ‘ung Cottonians:
Remain attentive… (Man eaters lurk in the dark)
Be quick on the take…
Good News -Bad News- Regrets…its all part of the game plan.
..and although I felt the way I felt…No Fear….nothing else matters (Metallica)
Remember..The Best Has Yet to Come.
• *Sangha= drains (an expletive in espanol)
• *Mierda=S..t (another expletive en espanol)
• *D.A.S=Devil at Seventeen
• *Old Man= Captain, Lord and Master of the Ship
• *Devooshka=a soviet two legged damsel.