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Article: Judging a book by its cover.

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    Judging a book by its cover.

    24 Comments by Paul Johnson Published on 11th June 2020 11:57 PM
    Hi All,
    This a story that owes its inception from a thread posted by J. Sabourn entitled 'The Police State', a varied series of over a 110 posts debating the police state, racism and prejudice; well worth a visit if you have not already done so. My next story in this forum was going to be about ringbolting, that will have to wait for another time. Onward with this story:

    I was outward bound on the 'Arawa' as Assistant Ship's Cook, cooking for the engine room and deck crew, the Ship's Cook was the most obnoxious and bullying person I had ever sailed with, not only did I have to work with him all day I also had to share a cabin with him. As a reasonably fit and 'handy' chap I would not normally be too bothered, but this bloke was very large, at least 6' 2" and 18 stone plus, on top of that he was a wrestler when ashore; and I do not mean the soppy stuff on telly, this guy was violent, nobody complained about the food in his mess!

    We did not hit it off from day one, if I went for a shower he would quickly leave the cabin and lock the door, I would have to hunt for him wearing just my towel, this may sound trivial, but anyone sharing a cabin soon realises a certain degree of co-operation is required. This and other niggles were almost a daily occurrence, until one day it reached its nadir, there was this brute standing in the galley doorway threatening me with a visit to the hospital, and I do not mean as a visitor, (ironically I was to spend time in the 'Arawa' hospital next trip, another story), he was not joking. In this long narrow galley I was at one end and him at the other, there was nothing to hand, a knife, pot or anything, just this hulk coming towards me, I opened a drawer nearby, full of the usual detritus; pens,notes, old menus, but there nestling amongst them was a can opener. Do you all remember those openers for opening your tinny? The bent triangular piercing blade could be very sharp. So I grasped this 'weapon' and brandished it, I thought he was going to wet himself, WITH LAUGHTER, with comments that he may now extend my hospital stay for longer, I had a brainwave.
    This man had one love in his life, letters from his wife were tossed aside, instead he would concentrate on the daubed pictures and scrawled letter from his very young daughter, he idolised her; all I could think of saying was that he may send me to hospital but his daughter would never kiss his face again. He stopped as if he had walked into the proverbial brick wall, it took a while for the full import of what I had said to filter through to him, with that he stormed off. I never ever went anywhere without an opener with me; in my pocket, in the shower, on the table in front of me in the crew pig, and he knew it, I even had one looped on my belt as an aide memoire for him.

    Anyway, that is how things were, an armed truce, me with my 'weapon' and him with his bulk and violence. Our next port of call was Cape Town, that afternoon I went ashore to play football against a French ship, there were two reasons for this, one, I always played sport for my ship if I could, secondly, I would be breaking the law; as a mixed race person I should not be associating on the field of play with white people. Normally I would not go ashore in a country that determined what park benches I could sit on!
    After we had served the evening meal I had a shower( taking my key), got back to the cabin to change, my Nemesis was there, as I was not going for a run ashore I just put on flip-flops, shorts and a T-shirt. My cabin 'mate' said "not going ashore?", I explained that with my heritage and not agreeing with Apartheid, I was going to the pig, after he had digested this, maybe ten seconds, he got up and retrieved a bottle Bacardi from his locker and suggested we have a drink. Now I know some of you romantics out there will jump to the conclusion that from that moment we became the best of buddies and I became his daughter's Godfather. No, we drank the bottle of Bacardi, I told him of the circumstances of me being mixed race, and he talked of his daughter for an hour. Afterwards he went to the senior rating's pig and I went to my pig.

    The next morning started as usual, I cooked breakfast whilst he prepped lunch and dinner, afterwards my job was the vegetables and potatoes in all their myriad forms, and to make pastry for the desserts etc. I then noticed a large pot of stew on the range, giving the chalked menu a surreptitious glance I could not see its inclusion, in an ordinary environment one may have tendered an inquiry, but this was not an ordinary environment. Anyway, after the crew had 'lunched' my helpmeet said "get bowls and spoons", such a talkative barsteward, we then went forrard to the tween decks of No. 1 hold, there ,squatting around were the black dockers, we then dished out the stew to everyone, my larger half said "finish what's in the pot, he (gesticulating to me) , will collect and wash everything". That is of course what I did. Not one word was ever spoken of this between us.

    Now I know a reduced number of you romantics must think, NOW they are going to be bosom pals and Paul IS going to be that poor benighted child's Godfather. NO, NO, NO. We left Cape Town and if anything spoke even less, the rest of the trip was terrible, my only highlight was when one of the Asst. cooks in the passenger galley was Tom and Dick and I stood in for him; the grill chef thought I was the bee's knees when I had 50 steaks on the go under the salamander and could tell him whether they were rare, medium or well done.
    I offered the Asst. cook on his return a swap, Asst. Ship's ck. was a piece of cake, he told me to go away in short jerky movements, he had met the Ship's Ck.

    I met this person years later, I had left some knives on the 'Hauraki', never thinking I would ever see them again, but met up with her in Gladstone dock Liverpool, I thought I would pop over, the knives were marked. I spoke to the Baker, he was as happy as Larry for me to take them, as I was wrapping them in a cloth I had brought who should turn up but my Nemesis, with many expletives he inquired what I was doing there, after my explanation , and seeing two large knives in my hands, the conversation ended. On my exit I met the Second Steward, He had been on 'Hauraki' when I was on there, I think his name was George Patterson, he whispered to me that, "that f#$%^&* is not sailing with us".

    So you see dear reader that even a neanderthal thug had principles, but of course he would not recognise principles as such, possibly did not know what a principle was. But even now I applaud his actions, the F!~@#$%^ barsteward !!

    Cheers, Paul.

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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Paul I would imagine nearly everyone on this site could tell you about their experiences with bullying both on ship and prior to even gping to sea. It is a subject that has always been there and alwayss will , it is not a subject in isolation , but is part of the living experience . Once in my teens At 2 in the morning when a bully was in his bunk , I went. With a piece of 4x4 to kill him and had every intention that he would not wake up ever again.He too was too big to take on otherwise . An off duty AB sitting on N.5 hatch saw me and asked me to sit down with him and have a yarn. He had the sense to see my intentions and talked me out of them. That same sleeping beauty however never bothered me again , he must have got the message from others. there are other many cases of bullying, some fights you won and some you lost, It was all part of life and growing up. You have to look at things in different lights in nearly all cases when defining bullying. At least you can talk about it which is a sure sign you don’t suffer today from the much maligned word of Trauma. Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 12th June 2020 at 01:07 AM.
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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Hi JS,
    Thanks for your lovely post, I have hated bullying all my life, when a little lad I would always fly at bullies hitting smaller children, sometimes the 'smaller' children were bigger than me, sometimes I was knocked down, but I always got up again. I soon learnt that bully's do not like that and scarpered. I would then go back to my Grandparents sitting on a park bench, on the Common in Balham, my Nan would spit on her hanky to clean me up and say "good boy", and my Grandad, 22 years in hospital after WW1, would look on me with pride, I learnt manners and many other things from them.

    You must revere that AB who took the time to have that word with you, I do not know your circumstances, but I am sure if you had even injured that bully, your life would have ended as a Seaman, possibly as anything worthwhile. You mention trauma, my only trauma at the moment is that at 02.37 I have to go and get another glass of wine, I am condemned by my own rules in not having a bottle beside my computer, I have to go downstairs!

    Finally JS, I would have used 4x2, even though I have big hands it would have fitted in them easier!
    Cheers, Paul.

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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    It wasn’t my intention to injure him , it was to kill him , and the consequences didn’t matter. I can quite see how murder in some cases occur. The French May call it a crime of passion in this case it would of been a crime of hatred. Which goes on today with thousands of people in the firing line and they call it war. I have been in situations where if I had a fire arm in my hand I would have used it without compunction. I know myself better than anyone and know my own limitations and what I am capable of. Don’t need a physiologist to tell me my fortune , may sound a bit theatrical but everyone should know themselves before they try to judge other people.
    JS
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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Bullies in all walks of life is very true.
    But at the Vindi we had one in our cabin. A fairly big lad who claimed his father was someone special in the public service.

    There was a practice that if you had a problem with another you could take it out in the boxing ring Friday night.

    One guy from another hut challenged him as he had seen some of his bully boy ways with a younger lad who gave the appearance of maybe being gay.

    They met in the ring, it lasted all of about half a minute, the other guy knocked him down in very short time.
    We all cheered and he became very quite for the remainder of his time there.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Paul, I would have suggested a 3 x 3, rather than a 4 x 2 as it may have splintered if using the wrong edge. I was used to bullying being small in stature, but after a couple of trips on deep sea trawlers at the age of 13 the bullying seemed to stop, I hadn't grown much in height but the muscles seemed to have improved.

    John, thank goodness the AB stopped you, as we may have missed so many informative posts.

    Last edited by Ivan Cloherty; 12th June 2020 at 08:04 AM.

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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Best to get them off the chest before it’s too late Ivan . We all have secrets , some may not be digestible. To some . But the older one gets the more we live in the past. A chipping hammer would have been preferable if had been handy. JS
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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Chipping hammer would have been too messy, especially the windy hammer

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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Cloherty View Post
    Chipping hammer would have been too messy, especially the windy hammer
    But you could chuck them over the wall after and wash down with hot salt water
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
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    Default Re: Judging a book by its cover.

    I can't comment on being bullied as it never happened to me, but what I would like to say is- sometimes when two people meet for the first time in the work place, if they don't see eye to eye it must cause bad feeling between them, therefore I would think the one who held the superior position would be inclined to make the other's life a misery in the work place.

    Regards from
    Fouro

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