Friday 8 November 2013



This is just down the road from me, a blockship, sunk in the Nazi War, to prevent U-Boats sneaking, a second time, into  the Fleet Anchorage and blowing the guts from our capital ships.  Often, driving past, it's misty, which adds to the melancholy of this old sailor.  I always think, Christ, she's been sunk there for  nearly seventy-five years and still no sign of her disappearing;  maybe she steamed all around the world before being commandeered, like so much else, for destruction; men and boys, officers, engineers, stokers  and able seamen, berthed tightly within her hull, smashing outward bound  through the Atlantic or drifting round the British coastline. Who knows, somebody will, somewhere.


They have a magnificent integrity, these old ships,  looming in the mist, rivets still proudly protruding over their plates, rusty but relatively intact.  Always gives me a Billy Connolly moment, passing here. I've mentioned before how, on Desert Island Discs, the hideous harpy, Sue Lawley, reminded a simpering Connolly that he might've ended up a welder on Clydeside. Instead of riposting An' what would be wrong wi' that, the great overblown luvvie ponced that that would indeed have been dreadful.  I suppose he meant that his then friends, the Duke of York and his greedy scrubber, Fergie, wouldn't have been quite so keen to have him round for dinner.

I don't know if those sunken ships are from the Clyde but I like to think so, stands a good chance;  what is for sure, however, is that   given  a threat such as the Nazis I would swap a thousand showbizslag comedians and radio bints  for one Govan welder. I would also make the same trade for a Portsmouth shipbuilder or any of the bonnie lads of Tyneside.

It's hard to tell, hard to know what's what anymore.  I wouldn't believe a word that defence seckatry Philip Hammond said, not about anything. Like Christine la Vache of the IMF,

La Vache, Ah-aaa, le saviour de la universe
   Voulez vous ne coucher pas avec moi, ce soir?

Hammond is only there because of the venality of his immediate predecessor;  in Christine's case it  was Dominic StraussKahn,  the former head of the IMF's philandering that got him sacked  and her rescued from the obscurity then facing all of  the dwarf, Sarkozy's, stooges; with Hammond it was the bumboy doings of Liam, sorry, Doctor Liam Fox and his reluctant, bad-tempered and wholly ignoble resignation which gave Hammond the defence brief;  

 Yes, Liam was caught fucking his boy at the taxpayers' expense.
And that's why  I am defence seckatry. Yes, I know, you couldn't make it up.  Stand to attention, there.

one day he was minister for traffic lights, Phil,  and the next he's in charge of messfuls of Field Marshal Rupert Golightly Jockstraps, throwing Tommy out of work in order to give more money to the bankers.  What, therefore, he knows about shipyard closures, or anything else, for that matter, is a mystery. 

What is sure, however, is that recent occupants of MediaMinster have taken a devilish delight in the, whatwouldyacallit, the demaritiming of the British Isles, contrary though that is to the commonest common sense, the clue being in the word Isles.

I know someone, here, who has been burning, for ages, in her Aga,  her brother's fishing boat;  a perfectly good boat,  it had to be decommissioned to satisfy European fishing regulations. Not only did it have to be decommissioned it had to be broken up into pieces so small that it could never - even in the most paranoid bureaucrat's imagination - be reassembled.

From Cornwall to Shetland, this destruction has been a commonplace since the days of Grocer Heath.  Now, it doesn't really matter that Cadburys chocolate is owned by whoever it is, Yanks, Chinks, some wretched global conglomerate.  George Cadbury was a great, a visionary capitalist  but he's long dead and his most popular product is actually bad for you.  It wouldn't matter if Bourneville was demolished tomorrow, it is a tiny flash in History's pan.  The same is true of Triumph motorcycles, of Austin, Morris and Rover cars; worlds, business worlds, they rise and fall,  that's the way it is.  Shipping, though, shipbuilding, this is the stuff, the alchemical fabric of millennia.

Governed these decades, as we have been, by spivs  and nonces, we have been told by each faction in turn that They Are Not In The Business Of Managing Decline.  Before he re-invented himself, Tory thug, Portillo, boasted, of  some jumped-up appointment given him by Whisky Maggie, that he wasn't in the business of doing deals with  working people, he, like so many other MediaMinster tarts,  was going to put the Great back in Britain, silly cunt.  What Portillo and his fellows   have done is exactly what they chanted that they wouldn't do - they have managed the decline of formerly great industries, formerly great institutions and formerly great values and substituted a one-size-fits-all  Idiots' Charter of Greed and Stupidity. Whilst gleefully, spitefully managing Decline they have wrought Ruin.

In 1966, a troubled kid, I ran away to sea in this old tub, the SS Ramore Head, from Belfast; it was old then, well, twenty years old, nineteen-forties construction, and at the cheap end of that unsophisticated style of construction;  it was no pinnacle of the shipwrights' art.
 But she did batter her way through the North Atlantic's midwinter gales and I remember standing on her  plunging and soaring stern a thousand miles from anywhere, thinking, terrified and awestruck as I was -  Fuck me, this is good. Or words to that effect. I was unknowingly hymning my people's love affair with the mighty ocean.  Now that I am a man I have never put away this childish thing.  I live on  a quiet shore but I love it when it gets noisy and I take ship sometimes a dozen times a year

Y'know, once upon a time, the land was too much afforested, it was untravelable;  we made our way around our coastal  settlements - pilgrimages, trade, curiosity - by boat;  the Severn, the Irish Sea, the Channel and the North Sea being our motorways.  We really are ancient mariners.

Coming back, in '66 from the States, up the southwest of Ireland, I saw tiny, flimsy little fishing boats, tossed like corks in massive, skyscraper seas, their crews dancing around the decks, hauling and casting nets.  I have never, since,  begrudged the price of fish and chips.

Making ships and going to sea for trade or conquest or harvest,  that is Britishness,  that IS the historical alchemy, the transmutation of tribes of base mongrels into world leaders.

That  MediaMinster sees casino-banking and zombie-economics as more worthy, more relevant than men who make ships and men who go down to the sea in ships is unsurprising, they are, after all, Cameron and Clegg, Milliband and Balls unpardonably stupid individuals, good, as we say, for fuck all.

And it's no use some gobby, poxed-up parasite in a suit, somebody like the nasty old tosser playboy,  Andrew Neil,  wearily lecturing me about Korean ships and Jap ships and German ships;  these fuckers only build ships for money.  For thousands of years we have built boats and ships because that's who we are or sadly, now, that's who we used to be.     


Anonymous said...

So sad to see what was, at one time, the most advanced and beneficent nation the world has ever seen turned into this piss-poor shell of a society we have today.

A world leader in engineering, aeronautics, communications, manufacturing, medicine, transport, etc, etc, turned to this festering corpse, pissed on daily by queers, maniacs and liars, people who have done fuck all and know fuck all, people whom you rightly describe as good for fuck all. All that industry, and the brains and the brawn that went with it, replaced by McDonalds and fucking coffee shops, staffed by foreigners or ladymen and slappers, disinherited of their birthright as English men and women, deprived of even being men and women, still children at 30 and 40.

I see people incapable of independent thought after 14 years of state education, imprisoned for singing a song at a football match, while scum and shit like Bliar and Cameron and all the other crew of multi-milionaire parasites and ponces are talking utter bollocks about being in it together, chauffeured from one of their nine houses to parliament to make more spiteful laws and yet more money for themselves. Never a hint of prosecuting these bastards, and when a few are eventually so utterly brazen that they can no longer bullshit their way out of a court appearance, they recieve a punishment fit for a petty thief instead of the murderers and rapists they actually are.

I think that Great Britain is now just a place that existed decades ago, the decline and rot started around a hundred years ago, but accelerated to break-neck speed these last thirty. We'll never recover, Britain is not Great and no longer even British. The future is filled with surveillance, show-trials, detention centres and cruel and unusual punishments. As a nation we are fucked, the decline is terminal. As a people we face extinction, demographics conclusively prove that as fact.

My only, fading hope is that somewhere there is a man that will be provoked to start a revolution and that he massacres a few thousand of the ruling class, past and present, strips them of their assets and estates and turns back the clock to Victorian times. To see Blair and his whore dangling would be a good start.

But it's just a silly, vain hope. It is too late, the night is far spent, we are like water, poured out upon the ground, that cannot be gathered up.


call me ishmael said...

Security is all, mr vincent, government must keep itself secure from the governed, so it probably won't happen, the dangling.

Saddest of all is that so many who nearly see things clearly still, like children believing in Santa, pin their hopes on more of the same, in this case, Farage the Hateful. Isn't that a wog name, Farage, might he, like some '30s Berliner Nazi Party member, be a wrong 'un himself?

More lamentation than rant, I relished your every word.

Anonymous said...

I really am deeply saddened by it all, Mr Ishmael, I don't say it for effect. I could cry. Sometimes for sorrow, sometimes for rage.

I used to wonder if our children, and their children too, would ever forgive us for allowing the utter ruination of this nation. Now I realise that the most of them are too stupid or too stoned to care or even realise what has been lost, and those that do not fall into this category seem willing participants in their own destruction.

Your nautical theme and photos brought to mind Turner's The Fighting Temeraire, just to add to the melancholia. Stuffed with symbolism, that brilliant painting. The once great and powerful warrior, a survivor of Trafalgar, now crippled and wrecked, dragged to her death by a spiteful little tug not fit to swab her decks, that had never and would never see or do a tenth of what she had seen and done, not even if it lived a hundred years, all in the name of progress, technological advance. Stripped of every item of value, sold for pence in the pound to scavengers who cared nothing for her service, only what they could make from her demise. Just like Britain, and the British, sold for scrap.

Some think Turner considered himself to be the Temeraire. Once great and illustrious, then all glories past and faded, dragged away to be replaced.

I wonder if he ever, in his wildest nightmares, considered the possibilty that his replacements would be such talentless, opportunistic dross as Tracey Emmin and Damien Hurst, or that the British public to whom he donated The Fighting Temeraire would have, mostly, transformed into the childish rabble we have today, people who think shit-stained underpants and un-made beds or dead cows in formaldehyde are 'artistic'?


Mike said...

Mr Vincent: well said, most eloquently, on both counts.

Mike said...

PS: Mr Vincent you made me revisit "The Fighting Temeraire". Truly a metaphore for a dying civilisation.

The root of all evil is money, and the low-life, single-cell amoemba, that inhabit the HoC have sold a nation for a handfull of pottage in their persit of a few shekels. May they rot in hell.

yardarm said...

Bang on the money, Mr Ishmael. The media and political scum see themselves as the new colonial Governors and District Commissioners, imposing globalisation on the poor benighted savages such as us. They serve only the dosh jugglers and multinational spivs for which they are rewarded accordingly for their betrayal. Yesterday the Portsmouth shipbuilders were strivers with hard working families. Now they will be scroungers, to be lectured, bullied and harried by creatures not fit to lick the shit from the tread of their boots.

To the craps ruling us the maritime tradition is as historically relevant as folk music. In the nineteenth century the Royal Navy put down piracy and slavery around the world. Yet despite modern communications, radar, spy satellites, despite our ability to target a drone right up someone`s arsehole in the Hindu Kush, despite Cameron and Hague`s lust to rain down hellfire on Syria no one seems to be able to do anything about Somali pirates, blokes with AK47`s in small boats. And I bet the filthsters still wear the poppies they bought on the exxies years ago.

DtP said...

'ended up a welder' - shit eh, could have been a cunt if you'd applied yerself - cunts! Love 'historical alchemy', beautiful - thank you very much as per usual. When people ask, and they some times do, who's my favourite writer, I say you. Never give your website out tho - may tell me mum. Cheers dude.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks, mr dtp.

Anonymous said...

As a long time lurker here, I would echo the sentiments of Mr. DtP, Mr Ishmael - you're My favourite writer by a long way sir.

I find much solace here - I feel I'm in the company of friends with whom I feel so comfortable, I don't usually feel compelled, nor obliged to contribute.

I'm sure there are many more like me

'Cheers Dude' indeed


call me ishmael said...

It's a strange thing, mr tezza, whenever I hear the the words "As a writer I ....this that or the other.^ I feel like reaching for a pistol.

I have always written, it levels my head and eases my mind. I probably liked the historical alchemy phrase more than did mr dtp but it only arrived because I was trying to make some sense of recent shipyarding events; it is part of me, now, part of my understanding.

These commentaries are, I dunno, a bit, anyway, like thinking out loud; I never know where they are going until they get there and it is the process of making them intelligible to others which stops them being the sound of one hand clapping. Any thanks, therefore, are due, if at all, in both directions.

Anonymous said...

One hears that it can be a catharsis to write down ones thoughts and I certainly need release for the impotent, simmering rage I feel at the ruin which surrounds us, Mr Ishmael.

I just wish I had the ability to be able to write in such a coherent and eloquent form as yourself and your regular commenters; in the absence of which I find it a great delight to visit here, read and maybe nod assent.

Could I ask, how is your search for a canine companion is coming along (if you are indeed still searching)?

We lost our wee friend this time last year from an aggressive form of cancer at only six years old. I wept buckets for days and me (it is said) a toughguy.

The echoing void he left has to a large extent been filled by a small, scruffy,bossy,funny, sweet natured cross-bred terrier bitch, these last few months. Home feels like home again, though I'd previously said no more dogs!

Be well Mr. Ish


call me ishmael said...

Thanks, mr tezza.

We all weep. It is a heartache widely experienced, losing a companion animal. Some friends recently lost their lovely little bloke, Oscar - Oscar, I ask you - under the wheels of a neighbour's car, one can say anything one likes to them but there is no immediate comfort, they'll just have to bear it and in time, as do we, they'll be able to laugh about their lost friend, his ways, his habits.

I often look through back issues of these commentaries, searching for a photo and I am amazed at the number of times Buster, the blogdog, features and at the very genuine affection people felt for him. I used to scold him, saying, I'll tell mrs narcolept about you, or ms lilith, they won't think you're so nice then, they'll think you're a bad dog.

We had been hoping to home a homeless Yorkie, as Buster and the other blokes were, but it hasn't happened and so we are going to have to visit a breeder and hope to do so around Christmas.

A little story. I was walking through Alnwick, one day, with my first Yorkie, Rocky and an older gentleman stopped to fuss him. We chatted and he mentioned that he had recently lost his own Yorkie. You not getting another one? I bluderingly enquired. He gave me a long, ancient look, a mixture of sorrow and weary impatience. I'm seventy-two, he said, and these blokes live to be sixteen; if I had another dog, what would happen to him? I froze-up inside at the realisation that you can be too old to properly take on such a responsibility.

I'm a long way off that age but I'm not one of those swimming, cycling, sparkling Saga people either. I normally accomplish more than healthy people but that's bloody-mindedness and not predictable longevity; I have been hesitant, therefore, mindful of my deeply moving Alnwick experience, to buy a brand new dog but it looks like it's a brand new dog or no dog. He or she, like us, will just have to hope for the best. At least home will be like home again.