There must be more persons around with memories of the 50's. If we don't record them now we shall one day waken up dead and regret it! So...once upon a time....
One day the Eastbank was lying alongside the quay in either Beira or Lourenco Marques. A Union Castle cargo liner was lying astern of us. We were loading/discharging cargo. It was a hot humid enervating night. I was on cargo watch sharing acting 3M with Gordon Bruce at the end of our first years apprenticeship. I think that the sharing was designed to avoid us being paid.
It was late at night. The winches were occasionally moving. It was tediously boring.
The Old Man (Holbrook) was seen to leave the ship, proceed to the cargo liner and in due course return with a bunch of its crew and proceed up to his cabin. To add insult to injury the sounds of great jollity and enjoyment could be heard through the Old Man's windows.
As I leaned over the rail I saw looming through the darkness the squat granitey stocky figure of the Chief (Paterson?) swaying along the quay.
He and the Old Man did not get on. Both it was claimed, were the most senior in the company.
He rolled his way along the deck, only part of the roll being accounted for by having been at sea for some weeks. "Where is the Old Man, laddie?" I told him and he replied with a gleam in his eye to the effect that he was going to have some fun.
Shortly after, the sounds of a fracas could be heard coming from on top.. Shortly after that again, the Old Man stuck his head out and bellowed out "Polizia, polizia", the noise echoing around the warehouses in the sudden silence.
Immediately a group of Portuguese police could be seen at the double on the quayside, hands clutching revolver holsters.
Within minutes the Chief was being frogmarched down the gangway hands behind his back, and roaring "Shut the b.....d down, second, shut her down". And the wiry conscientious second, petrified of the Chief, did.
Winches whined to a halt, slings suspended in mid-air, lights died out, and the fridges went as the genny's ground to a halt and total silence fell on the ship. And stayed that way till mid morning. And the Chief stayed in clink too.
And the super came up from Durban (Banks-53?). And the ship was delayed for several hours. On being released the ship then sailed.
And everyone lived happily ever after. We carried on for the next year and no one seemed in the least bit put out.
It later transpired that the Chief had gatecrashed the party, got clobbered by a steward from the cargo liner, had then gone below to call out his loyal troops who had run up top, had forced the door and one of the juniors, an Aussie amateur boxer had knocked down the assailant.
Both as I remember it were over 60 or thereabouts. And the moral of the story? There is hope yet for us old b......s!
Last edited by rcraig; 25th August 2009 at 20:19..