An innocent run ashore---------NOT!!!

15th September 2007, 09:38
I saw a photo, submitted by Stuart Smith in The Gallery, of two of the stalwarts off "Makrana", Jim Robertson (Chief of all the Electricians) and Joe Arden (Chippy extraordinaire) and was reminded of a run ashore we three enjoyed in Barcelona.
Today it's just another yarn about three MN types exploring yet another foreign port but, at the time, it could have ended in serious trouble for us. General Francisco Franco was still "Head Lad" in Spain and his Police were run along similar lines to Hitlers Gestapo and didn't suffer fools gladly!!
Barcelona, for Brock's, was quite a departure from their usual haunts and was being looked forward to with great anticipation, even though we were homeward bound and it would hold us up, from getting home, for a bit longer.
The Second Steward, whose name escapes me at the moment (it was either Pete Evans or Bill Wilford) had been filling our heads with stories of runs ashore he had been on, when he had been to Barcelona previously, but emphasising that "a brilliant spot, to go to, cheap, with loads of women, is "Los Buenos Hombres!"
We three duly set-off ashore pockets bulging-------------with next to nowt!
After wandering in and out of various bars (along, Las Ramblas?) sampling different freebie glasses of vino-collapso we headed for "Los Buenos Hombres" which, unfortunately, we found!!!!
We entered a place, that, considering we had been told it was "cheap", looked remarkably upmarket!!
However "Jolly Jack The Ocean Pig", once he has his eye's on the target, is seldom daunted by apparent opulence takes it all in his stride, with the same aplomb he also demonstrated in his forays into "Isiah's Bar", ("you want English school-teacher sahib?") Free School Street, Calcutta.
Seating ourselves at a table we were approached by a waiter, followed by three top-of-the-range young females who sat alongside us. The waiter asked what we would like to drink, and, before we could inform him of our choice, our three companions all said "Champagne". We opted for whisky as that was our favourite short on board.
A BOTTLE of whisky with three glasses, a BOTTLE of fizz and three glasses, for our "lady-friends", rapidly appeared and we all got stuck into the appropriate drinks.
The floor-show started (obligatory Flamenco dancers, of course!!) and it dawned on me that this was no cheap-jack boozing joint, as it had been painted by the Second Steward, it WAS a rather up-market night-club!!
I said to Jim, "I'm going to ask the waiter how much our bill is, so far, as I think this is quite an expensive place" and duly called him over (his name was probably Pedro and my calling him "Over" didn't best please him!!) as he said, supercilliously I thought, "38000 peseta's!" (or some similar astronomical sum as I'm not sure the rate-of-exchange was then) which equated to 38!!!!!
He may as well have said 38,000,000 as we just didn't have anywhere near that sort of money with us!!!!
With great forethought I slipped my Longines watch (incidentally stolen from me years later when I was working in Botswana!!!) off my wrist and put it in my pocket as I suddenly had bad Karma about the developing situation!!!
I asked Jim how much money he had and he said, "About 4 10s", Joe said he had, "Next-to-bugger-all!" and, when pressed for the exact sum, it amounted to 2 2s 6d. I had 3 and $2 (US).
Our "ladies" melted away at this point as they sensed "A Bad Moon Rising", as Creedence Clearwater Revival might have said. I asked if the waiter could get the Manager. He appeared----------very rapidly. Fortunately, for us, he was a reasonable bloke and asked what we proposed to do about the bill. He said he would take our watches as part-payment but this would still leave several thousand peseta's owing. Jim and Joe were then relieved of their time-pieces. I, of course, showed an empty wrist! (with vivid white mark where my timepiece had been!!)
I explained to the Manager that I needed to be back aboard the ship as I was working nights (True too! Stan McGuigan was covering for me 'til I got back). He agreed for Jim and me to go back to the ship, raise the money and for Jim to return whilst I stayed aboard.
Joe was left as hostage to ensure Jim would return!!!
Bad move!!
Got back aboard and tried raising the necessary!!! Not one person had sufficient "readies" to help defray our huge bill. The odd half-crown, ten-bob note, a handful of rupees was about as good as it got!!
I said to Jim, "Let's try the Chinese fitters!" (Good blokes, "on loan" from Blue Flue).
Luckily the first bloke we tried (of three) said he could help and Jim duly went back to "Los Buenos Hombres" to "buy" Joe back!!!
Now to explain the "bad move" at leaving Joe as hostage!!!!!
For some inexplicable reason Joe had been allowed to have more whisky and the bill was now back to the original pre-wrist-watch-exchange-levels and Jim didn't have sufficient to cover the shortfall!!!
Luckily there was an American Marine, from the American base near Barcelona, at a nearby table and he'd been watching this drama unfold and very generously offered to cover the "extra's" allowing Jim and Joe to return to the ship.
Jim, quite rightly, invited the Yank to come aboard, the following day, "for a few beers" as thanks for the bail-out he had instigated.
The bloke duly turned-up the following day looking absolutely immaculate in his Marine uniform, complete with the obligatory quarter-inch haircut American Marines effected (even in those long-gone days).
He started off as a picture-book all-American Marine Corps member but, after severalteen cans of Tennents, his tie was off, his uniform shirt unbuttoned and even the quarter-inch haircut was looking dishevelled!!
We eventually poured him into a taxi with us all swearing that America was the best country in the world with Britain being a close second! All the rest could simply, "Go forth and multiply"! Happy days!!!! Salaams Phil(==D)

15th September 2007, 13:06
Thanks Phil, good story of the old days. Despite the cool move of hiding your watch, obviously you weren't meant to keep it. Sounds like a job for Precious Ramotswe of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaberone (recommend the books by Alexander McCall Smith).

I'm reminded of teaching Spanish "bar culture" to a couple of Australian shipmates. I told them: "one beer" is "una cervesa", "two beers" is "dos cervesas" and "three beers" is "dos cervesas and one for me mate". They seemed a bit dubious but, shortly afterwards, sitting at the outside tables of a bar in Las Ramblas, I called the waiter: "Camarero, dos cervesas and one for me mate." Sure enough, out came three beers. "Hey, the Pom's f***ing good!" cried the Third Mate. Maybe the waiter was from Middlesbrough.

John T.

John Leary
15th September 2007, 18:58
Great story
Reminds me of a time before I went to sea when I tried to impress a girl by going into an expensive restaurant. Don't worrk about the cost I said grandly. I was sweating by the time the bill came and with gratuity my wallet was sadly empty after I paid the bill. The old saying that you have to speculate to accumulate did not apply on that occasion!

Keltic Star
16th September 2007, 04:50
Good story Phil, am sure this brings back memories for a lot of us.