Strangers in Our Own Land.....

Alistair Macnab
4th March 2011, 00:54
Here's a topic to ponder.

Most of us experienced when we arrived home from our first long trip to sea or after a period of orientation at sea in which we had become accustomed to the sea-going life that we were somehow different from our pre-sea mates. We no longer had the same topics to discuss and all our friends had somehow diminished to 'parish pump' status.

I remember being somewhat offended by the gulf that had developed and wondered whether it was my fault or theirs that we had grown apart. Whilst continuing to down beer and chase the fair sex were still common factors, our enthusiasm for tales of hillarious piss-ups in exotic foreign locations and the antics of our more colourful shipmates seemed to be conversation stoppers rather than the start of the exchange of tall and bawdy tales that were very much the food of shipboard bull sessions.

We had, indeed, become strangers in our own land. We did not desire this but it had happened and we couldn't wait to get back aboard ship where we were again in the company of people we were (or had become) comfortable with even if they were total strangers.

Keltic Star
4th March 2011, 05:28
How very true Alistair, I remember the feeling very well. Some of my schoolmates would have got caught up in the last days of National Service and probably had some foreign based experiences to relate but the majority ended up as junior clerks for banks and insurance companies in the City while the Head Boy, self proclaimed to be the rising star of the decade trudged out a 45 year existence as a French teacher in a comprehensive school. Mind you, the prat would never have considered getting pissed or getting his leg over outside of wedlock.

Of the final class of 28, I still have two very good friends, one who also joined the MN and then swithced to the police force while the other one went straight into the Met. We are still in almost weekly communication and get together about every five years. None of us stayed in the UK, one is on the US west coast and the other in Portugal.

Robert Hilton
4th March 2011, 07:57
The first hint of this alienation comes when you walk down the street of your home town. Someone who knows you asks, "Are you back?" Then they ask, "When are you going away again?" If you are really lucky they ask, "Where have you been this time?"

In my younger days I bridged the gap by telling jokes that I would tailor to the company I was in. This worked well enough for me.Later I became more able for anybody's conversation.

I did revert to jokes a little when I fell among Bretons. Irish religion based stories were a great success and new over here. As my command of French gathers way I'm becoming more able for conversation.

Thanks for raising this topic.

Pilot mac
4th March 2011, 08:00
I went to sea as an apprentice aged 16 and your peer group was usually other apprentices, Junior Engineers and 3rd Mates . They were all considerably older and as a consequence you grew up very quickly! After my first long trip I experienced the same feelings as Alistair. On meeting old school friends I found it dificult to establish common ground and found myself yearning to get back to sea!

regards
Dave

MikeK
4th March 2011, 08:25
When friends have asked me about going to sea I have said exactly the same as your observation Alistair. After a while you detected that eyes ceiling-ward ' here he goes again' look when something mentioned triggered an innocent memory I had of some far flung corner of the world. I eventually used to keep quiet at the beginning of my leave until I had stored enough trivia going on around me to be able to join in.
It definitely moved you slightly apart from your home environment

Mike

McCloggie
4th March 2011, 08:40
An interesting subject, and not limited to the Merchant Navy either.

I get to travel a lot in the offshore business, have worked in all the usual exotic places and have been based Holland, Monaco and now Copenhagen. In the past four months I finished a project in Singapore, returned to Denmark, went out to Argentina for a holiday and on to Rio for work, back to Denmark and then down to Perth (WA) for a couple of weeks.

I grew up in a village in Fife and still know the local people but of course they are more interested in their day to day life than my goings on. To be honest, they simply do not understand the issues either technical or commercial with a large FPSO project and indeed why should they? To them, the sailing club, the golf, etc. is far more important.

So, yes, you go into the pub and feel like a stranger. I do not want to appear to be bragging either about my traveling or my work and what seems funny, interesting or important to me means nothing to these people.

Being an ex-pat, you tend to mix with the other ex-pats from all nations. I go for a beer here in Denmark after work and am with Americans, Polish, Dutch, British, Bosnian, Spanish and El Salvadorian people. Hardly any Danes! So, the ex-pats stick together, help each other out and have things in common.

Additionally, you get onto the ex-pat job network and before you know it you have more in common with the other ex-pats in, say, SIngapore than you do with your supposed friends back home.

It sounds as if I am sad about this and in some ways I am because it would be good to retain the old friendships but the grass is always greener etc. and I also consider myself lucky to have been able to travel and work all round the world.

McC

Robert Hilton
4th March 2011, 08:41
The eyes ceiling-ward syndrome is another part of our alienation. Sea stories are supposed to be unbelieveable. So it is assumed that they are untrue.

Not so. The same information is available in books and served up regularly on TV. But few people can belive that someone they know can have actually experienced such things.

stein
4th March 2011, 09:08
Former stoker and Swedish winner of the Nobel Prize in literature Harry Martinson made a poem on it. His impression was that his stories of foreign ports were compared to the lubbers' experiences in the cinema - which of course always were one up on what he could tell!

One thing that helped alienate a few Norwegian sailors was the tradition of having a sea name for everything: names completely different from those used ashore -and damn hard to get rid of. Sometimes those words were the English ones pronounced in Norwegian, but sometimes the origins were mysterious. Like "skaffe" for to eat, instead of ordinary Norwegian word "spise," which you did from a "plett" (obviously English) not from a "tallerken," and using “skaffetøy” not “spisebestikk” to eat with.

I went to a state art school after a few years at sea, and much to the merriment of my fellow pupils I always referred to our "kantine" ("canteen") as the "messa" ("mess"), a word unknown to most of them - somehow that was always the name on my tongue. :sweat:

Robert Hilton
4th March 2011, 09:14
Hallo Stein. Could "skaffe" come from English "scoff" = eat, and I believe derived from the name of the famous chef de cuisine Escoffier.

I still use a few nautical expressions in more than one language.

stein
4th March 2011, 09:28
I think Georges Auguste Escoffier (28 October 1846 – 12 February 1935) was a bit late for the word. (I've only heard "scoff" as in "you may laugh - you may scoff...")

Sometimes the origin of words has a strange history, as for example the Norwegian word for pin rail (around a sailing ship mast); the word is "skostall," literally "shoe-stable," but if you go to Swedish you find the word "skotstëlle," literally "place for sheets." "Skaffe" might have have a similar origin; before English became the great influence on Norwegian sea language, it was the Dutch language which was influential.

Alan Rawlinson
4th March 2011, 10:24
[QUOTE=Alistair Macnab;496677]Here's a topic to ponder.

Most of us experienced when we arrived home from our first long trip to sea or after a period of orientation at sea in which we had become accustomed to the sea-going life that we were somehow different from our pre-sea mates. We no longer had the same topics to discuss and all our friends had somehow diminished to 'parish pump' status.

I remember being somewhat offended by the gulf that had developed and wondered whether it was my fault or theirs that we had grown apart. Whilst continuing to down beer and chase the fair sex were still common factors, our enthusiasm for tales of hillarious piss-ups in exotic foreign locations and the antics of our more colourful shipmates seemed to be conversation stoppers rather than the start of the exchange of tall and bawdy tales that were very much the food of shipboard bull sessions.

We had, indeed, become strangers in our own land. We did not desire this but it had happened and we couldn't wait to get back aboard ship where we were again in the company of people we were (or had become) comfortable with even if they were total strangers.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Very true, Alistair - I'm glad I wasn't the only one suffering this effect on returning to the ( normal ? ) life ashore. Personally, I would hanker after that telegram to '' join ship, with kit etc '' from the Head Office, but always assumed I was a sad case, (no comments - please). because all my old mates ashore were on another , rather, pedestrian planet. ( Except the odd one or two school chums that had served in the Malaya conflict)

Climbing the gangway to an elderly Bankline ship always had that magical effect on me - an instant transformation back to a strange but comfortable land and one that went to exciting places, a bit like the Tardis, or should it be like falling down the rabbit hole in " Alice in Wonderland."

The alienation ashore probably happens to all groups that have shared a much heightened experience, i.e. " a trip " in the true sense.

trotterdotpom
4th March 2011, 10:57
It quickly became obvious that shoreside folk thought you were telling porkies whenever you related a tale that would have been readily accepted in any ship's bar or amongst other seafarers. Easier just to keep your mouth shut.

Recently I was talking to a workmate who asked me what I'd done in my previous life. I told her I'd been in the Merchant Navy, travelled the world and had sex with every race and nationality except for an Eskimo. I saw the skyward glance and could almost here the thought: "Wan*er!" I continued: "When I retire, I'm going to do it all over again, except this time I'm going to do it with the women!"

I've still got the bruise on my arm where she punched me!

John T.

Mick Spear
4th March 2011, 13:00
Great post, all threads worthy of a thumbs up!
Mick S

lakercapt
4th March 2011, 14:14
I think most of us had the same experience, especially after returning from a long trip.Your ex school friends and neighbours suddenly became immature and very parochial. Never did feel close to them again. I thought they were too immature but as I had lived with grown ups and sailors it was me that had changed.
Only bonds after that were people of the same ilk (sailors).
We had changed but whither for the better I would not like to say.
Go to sea a boy and return a man!!!!

JoK
4th March 2011, 14:21
I think most of us had the same experience, especially after returning from a long trip.Your ex school friends and neighbours suddenly became immature and very parochial. Never did feel close to them again. I thought they were too immature but as I had lived with grown ups and sailors it was me that had changed.
Only bonds after that were people of the same ilk (sailors).
We had changed but whither for the better I would not like to say.
Go to sea a boy and return a man!!!!

While I can't say I came back a man, I agree with just about everything else

charles henry
4th March 2011, 15:18
Well put Alister, You certainly hit the nail on the head. Even now I find that I have to watch what I say because my background and experience is different from all the people I know. I also realise that my thinking and attitude is often not acceptable to those people who have led a "normal" life.
Chas

roboted
4th March 2011, 16:30
What a brilliant thread,and the experiences I read of are so true.
With no disrespect to Alistair McNab,would this not be better on the "Mess Deck",I came across it by accident,and I feel it deserves a wider audience.
I first went to sea November 76 at 21,cocky and brash,5 1/2 months later at age 22 I returned,the difference between myself and my factory engineering colleagues was a chasm......I had become quieter,less mouthy and far more respectful of life in general....The best education I've ever had in my life,even now 30 odd years later,I still see that chasm between people, who have been shoreside all their lives, and seaman & expats.
I still have "itchy feet" to this day,and like others on SN am an Engineering Nomad...............
There must be something in the blood to want to go to/stay at sea,and like many I've met working as Expats......I suppose thats what sets the seafarer apart from our shoreside colleagues.....

China hand
4th March 2011, 18:28
We all have experienced it. Those of us who moved around before settling down in one spot certainly got "the look" as soon as we talked about anything. Problem is that in most cases, about 90% of the rubbish we talk is actually true. Nice one Alistair.

Ian6
4th March 2011, 20:22
In total agreement with all that Alistair wrote about the narrow horizons of those left behind. In addition my time at sea was divided between cargoships, passenger ships and tankers. With the latter, where we often spent long passages at sea with minimal time in port - frequently in 'no walk zones' like Saudi Arabia - when I got home I found British road traffic really scary. So many cars, such speed. It took a couple of days to be happy just crossing the road again!
Ian

Andy Lavies
4th March 2011, 20:49
Yes, going to sea did change us! I was 15 when I joined the "Ettrickbank". Within the first two months I'd got drunk, plodded across the Indian Ocean, been abandoned (for a morning) in Singapore, been through a typhoon in the China Sea that killed the mate and badly hurt the chippie and serang and visited a number of exotic oriental ports. Oh! And Alistair was the 3/O. Had to grow up quickly!
Andy

barrinoz
5th March 2011, 03:58
As McCloggie said, it's not limited to the merchant navy, it's just what we were all aware of. Military personnel probably have similar feelings. I put it down to shore-siders being boring, go-nowhere, do-nothing types who couldn't possibly compete with the exotic tales of derring-do we could spin (Trotterdotpom's being a brilliant example). Of course, the still-wet-behind-the-ears teenage multi-millionaires who design today's computer games consider their water-cooler-corner conversations absolutely fascinating.
barrinoz.

Ron Stringer
5th March 2011, 07:38
Surely what cements friendships and makes for easy conversation by making you 'one of us' who can be trusted, are shared experiences and interests. That is how people accept others into their community and distinguish members of their clan or tribe from outsiders.

The disinterest or funny looks were nothing to do with the fact that you were on leave from (or had served in) the MN or the armed services, they were simply the result of you having been separated from your former associates. Thereby you had not shared in their experiences (whether work, social or just watching the same TV/cinema) and they hadn't shared yours. The lack of recent shared experience made you appear like an alien from another land.

Johnnietwocoats
5th March 2011, 17:09
This is one great Thread...
I thought I was maybe the only one to experience this.....
How I remember "I see you are home again, when are you leaving"?
I returned from my first trip on the Eastbank after 12 months exactly...
Coming from Belfast I was hit with a double whammy.
Every time I mentioned The Seychelles, India, West Africa, USA, New Zealand the eyes went up. How could I have been to all those places they asked...
When I left Belfast to join the Eastbank all I knew was the old Catholic/Protestant thing....Sectarianism and Bigotary....
When I came home I realised that the World was a bigger place than N'Ireland and I was better off realising that...

Klaatu83
5th March 2011, 17:45
I've often found landsmen over here to be surprisingly provincial and uninformed about what's going on in the rest of the world, and it often does make me feel like a stranger in my own country. Moreover, I often find things that have been going on at home for some time, and which are common knowledge to those around me, are completely unknown to me. I have often found myself asked things such as, "You mean to say that you don't know about such-and-such? What planet have you been on?"

Sometimes I feel as though seamen are actually a different and distinct nationality from landsmen, inhabiting a different world. When the Sealand Alabama was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean it was the first most people over here had heard about the issue. When asked if I knew anything about it, people were surprised when I replied that piracy was a common problem at sea, and that it was something we had been dealing with for years in many parts of the world.

China hand
5th March 2011, 18:18
We are a race apart Klaatu83, and I for one am proud to be a part of that race. I didn't come across many other industries where nobody gave a monkey's copulation regarding your colour, beliefs or ideas; just be a seaman, good enuff.

xrm
5th March 2011, 20:00
We are a race apart Klaatu83, and I for one am proud to be a part of that race. I didn't come across many other industries where nobody gave a monkey's copulation regarding your colour, beliefs or ideas; just be a seaman, good enuff.


Says it all ..............

Rob

Binnacle
5th March 2011, 20:11
When there was a tobacco shortage in the UK, it was difficult when on leave for seafarers to obtain cigarettes. Tobacconists only sold to their own customers. Fortunately there was a MN Club in my home port so I had to go there as the only reliable source. This seemed to emphasize the difference between us and them.

TonyAllen
5th March 2011, 22:33
Great thread .my first trip on an ore boat had west indian deckies lascars down below canadian skipper cook from hull chief steward from sunderland baker from middle yorkshire me from the pool 1st 2nd mates from scotland sparks from down in kent so to a young lad a real mix of people in 1955 no wonder my twin brother looked at me with those eyes that said I don't believe you
took quite a while to convince him what I said was true.I was no longer the little boy that played footie ect in the street.I also got rid of any predudice I might have had over different races.As I said before it was the best time of my life at sea for 5 years alltho i've had a good life ashore, its still deep within my soul and it will only fade at my demise Regards to all Tony

John Callon
5th March 2011, 23:07
In complete agreement a great thread. Without reiterating what everybody else has said, it was only when I took a some guys I knew on board one of the ships I was on, that they realised how different life at sea was. The ship being the Mauretania which at the time was having her annual overhaul in the Gladstone Graving Dock. To say that it was an eye opener for them is an understatement. At that time I was working in the kitchens in the roast corner. When I showed them around I could have been from another planet. It was only then that their perception of the Merchant Navy changed and that the stories you could tell were not bull.... but the real thing. For me it was the best 25 years of my life, my only regret - not doing another 25.
John C.

KIWI
6th March 2011, 00:29
After being away from home for some years experienced all foregoing but there was one other experience that I don't think hs been mentioned yet.While I was away many of my close mates had got married & in many cases to girls I knew.On my return I noticed quite some reserve on the female side.This I thought was a case of "He will lead my man astray".Ended up with virtually new friends. KIWI

vibit
6th March 2011, 07:09
Very interesting reading. Looks like this is a very common situation for all of us , never mind nationality,,, I got very distant to my old mates after I started working on the high seas, coming home every now and then on leave. But, in my hometown we had a nice pub with posh restaurant above,, this place was "taken" over by us MN lads on leave with tons of dosh in our pockets,,,,, the lingo in there could only be understood by sea fares, lol,,,, this place was very popular among the local girls for a good nite out with us lads ,with all drinks and posh meals for free,,,, those were the days my friends,,,(Jester)

Winebuff
8th March 2011, 20:53
This feeling of having moved on and our old world standing still came to me when I left school at 17 and went to college in Hull to start my Marine Engineering training in 1974. I returned home after 2 weeks to see my friends and family, while my parents were obviously interested in what I was doing my old school friends had already been left far behind.

R396040
9th March 2011, 19:07
Very good theme and so true. Going to sea in 1948 as a sixteen year old I think it was a fact you grew up quicker being in a mans world . Years later I met my wife who was working in a hotel which was my favourite watering hole and we went out together for four years before tying the knot. She still says to this day I would be rich if I got back all the fivers and other dosh I loaned to friends over the years. Lots of promises to pay it back on payday or next time youre home...........

charles henry
11th March 2011, 16:35
My description of seafaring from my book

No matter how pleasant the port or how pretty the girls it was
always good to get back to sea. In port there are all kinds of shore people
coming aboard and disturbing the “routine”. They bring on board dirt and
garbage, the normal life stops and you even start locking your cabin door.
The ship is no longer a living thing, it has died.

Then comes the day you cast off, the lines holding you to the
shore are gone, she slowly moves from the wharf, then leaves the harbour
picking up speed. Her engine becomes audible as she enters her proper
enviroment and being the lady she is, her hips begin to swing. By the
order of the day she is given a good wash, hosed from stem to stern and
all the dirt and garbage from the land disappears.
Now she rolls with the swell, the air is somehow clean with the
sea wind blowing against your face. There is no wind on land that feels
like what you get at sea. Within a few hours you wont even notice the
sound of the engines or the noise of the water, it becomes part of the
environment that you live in, it is only when it stops that you miss it.
Watches have been set and started, now at any moment you know where
every individual is and what they are doing, the routine of the sea has
started. Following routines prescribed hundreds if not thousands of years
ago, you take your watch at specific times, you eat at regular times in the
same place and in the same company.
Everyone is either on watch, working, sleeping or attending to
personal chores, laundry, reading, writing an so on. Every officer’s cabin
has a door and a curtain. If the door is closed he wants no disturbance as
he is asleep or busy. If the door is open and the curtain closed then a visit
is acceptable.
A ship at sea becomes a living thing, rolling to the motion of the
waves, or if bad weather perhaps taking water over the bow or the boat
deck then rising and “shaking it off” like some prehistoric monster or
possibly wallowing like a horse trying to dismount its rider. All ships are

different and behave differently in the various weather conditions. They
can make a man extremely uncomfortable particularly on in a long
voyage in filthy weather and they can easily kill a man if he forgets to
treat her with respect.
However, when the weather abates a bit and life returns to
normalcy you always forgive her and forget the bad things.
No land locked person can imagine the indescribable beauty of
sleeping on deck in a tropical clime, the coolness of the breeze, the music
of the ship’s noises, watching the mast roll gently back and forward
against the pincushion of stars on a velvety deep blue sky. Or the feeling
of awe when on such a night you lean over the bow and watching the
porpoises playing crisscrossing in front of the ship in the luminescent
water of your bow wave. Of going for breakfast and feasting on flying
fish that landed on the deck during the night. (Most likely on empty
tankers with low freeboard).
However, much as I enjoyed the camaraderie that made the life so
pleasant I was very aware that whilst long sea voyages were enjoyable I
was missing out on the daily contact of a “shore” life.

TonyAllen
11th March 2011, 19:27
(Applause)Say's it all really. exactly how I felt at the time being in the galley giving it a good wash down ready for the next day at breakfast and then we really felt at ease in a routine Tony

brian3
11th March 2011, 20:26
great thread and would agree with most point's and can relate to McCloggie's
post. Where i stay it is the norm for guy's to work and travel all over the world.
so most can relate to tale's told by an ageing seaman, sometime's their yarn's
can outdo mine . make's for good crack. brian

eldersuk
12th March 2011, 00:26
That must be one of the best descriptions of going to sea I have ever read. I especially like - "watching the mast roll gently back and forward
against the pincushion of stars on a velvety deep blue sky."
When I was on the 12-4 I would usually be sitting on No.4 hatch at 11.30 with a cup of tea and a ciggie doing just that before going down below.
Brings it all back.
How lucky we were!

Derek

Hugh Wilson
12th March 2011, 01:36
It was obvious from my very first leave after having been away for 4 months that the relationships between me and my friends who stayed in the UK had changed. After about 18 months, I very rarely saw any of them anymore, but whenever I did, there seemed to be nothing to talk about. In contrast, I might not see ex-shipmates for several years, but whenever we do meet, it's almost a continuation of the conversation we had last time we met.

My wife tells me that I am a completely different person when I'm with other seafarers. Apparently I spend a lot of time laughing and joking and am very relaxed, whereas, when I'm with non-seafaring friends, I'm a miserable b....rd. She's wrong about the last bit of course, but she says it with such venom!!!

Alan Rawlinson
12th March 2011, 08:04
My description of seafaring from my book

No matter how pleasant the port or how pretty the girls it was
always good to get back to sea. In port there are all kinds of shore people
coming aboard and disturbing the “routine”. They bring on board dirt and
garbage, the normal life stops and you even start locking your cabin door.
The ship is no longer a living thing, it has died.

Then comes the day you cast off, the lines holding you to the
shore are gone, she slowly moves from the wharf, then leaves the harbour
picking up speed. Her engine becomes audible as she enters her proper
enviroment and being the lady she is, her hips begin to swing. By the
order of the day she is given a good wash, hosed from stem to stern and
all the dirt and garbage from the land disappears.
Now she rolls with the swell, the air is somehow clean with the
sea wind blowing against your face. There is no wind on land that feels
like what you get at sea. Within a few hours you wont even notice the
sound of the engines or the noise of the water, it becomes part of the
environment that you live in, it is only when it stops that you miss it.
Watches have been set and started, now at any moment you know where
every individual is and what they are doing, the routine of the sea has
started. Following routines prescribed hundreds if not thousands of years
ago, you take your watch at specific times, you eat at regular times in the
same place and in the same company.
Everyone is either on watch, working, sleeping or attending to
personal chores, laundry, reading, writing an so on. Every officer’s cabin
has a door and a curtain. If the door is closed he wants no disturbance as
he is asleep or busy. If the door is open and the curtain closed then a visit
is acceptable.
A ship at sea becomes a living thing, rolling to the motion of the
waves, or if bad weather perhaps taking water over the bow or the boat
deck then rising and “shaking it off” like some prehistoric monster or
possibly wallowing like a horse trying to dismount its rider. All ships are

different and behave differently in the various weather conditions. They
can make a man extremely uncomfortable particularly on in a long
voyage in filthy weather and they can easily kill a man if he forgets to
treat her with respect.
However, when the weather abates a bit and life returns to
normalcy you always forgive her and forget the bad things.
No land locked person can imagine the indescribable beauty of
sleeping on deck in a tropical clime, the coolness of the breeze, the music
of the ship’s noises, watching the mast roll gently back and forward
against the pincushion of stars on a velvety deep blue sky. Or the feeling
of awe when on such a night you lean over the bow and watching the
porpoises playing crisscrossing in front of the ship in the luminescent
water of your bow wave. Of going for breakfast and feasting on flying
fish that landed on the deck during the night. (Most likely on empty
tankers with low freeboard).
However, much as I enjoyed the camaraderie that made the life so
pleasant I was very aware that whilst long sea voyages were enjoyable I
was missing out on the daily contact of a “shore” life.

Congrats on a very descriptive passage which manages to conjur up the feeling and spirit, even the magic, of seafaring... There was a great sense of ' well being ' for most of the time at least. Then there was also a feeling of a job well done, arriving in port after a long passage. e.g. Taking 10,000, 12,000 tons or so of wheat to India, and ringing off '' finished with engines'' leaning over the bridge rail, and watching the hatches opening and the wheat starting to be bagged and discharged by dozens of shore workers.... The the mail - if you were lucky!

trotterdotpom
12th March 2011, 09:26
Nice piece, Chas. I'd forgotten about the universal cabin door rule - unfortunately, the door curtains largely disappeared as A/C was introduced.

Only one small thing you forgot and I suppose it doesn't happen now - opening the Bond. Yes!

John T.

R396040
12th March 2011, 12:10
It was obvious from my very first leave after having been away for 4 months that the relationships between me and my friends who stayed in the UK had changed. After about 18 months, I very rarely saw any of them anymore, but whenever I did, there seemed to be nothing to talk about. In contrast, I might not see ex-shipmates for several years, but whenever we do meet, it's almost a continuation of the conversation we had last time we met.

My wife tells me that I am a completely different person when I'm with other seafarers. Apparently I spend a lot of time laughing and joking and am very relaxed, whereas, when I'm with non-seafaring friends, I'm a miserable b....rd. She's wrong about the last bit of course, but she says it with such venom!!!

Hi Hugh,
SNAP ...... Its a mirror of a thread I might have written, glad to know Im not alone.
Stuart