Archive for the 'Shiver me Timbers' Category

Book Learnin’ and Other Sorry Lubbery

Yarr, tis a life of litera-sea for me

Y'arr, tis a life of litera-sea for me

Avast mizzensplicers!

The latest outbreak of landlubbery and Deppian falsity at Shiver me Cedars takes the form of a banal shopping list of buiks whose names are horrid to soil-fearing buccaneers on every wave. Frantic questions reverberate among the luxurious upholsteries of their indolent, land-locked lounge. “Whither this list?”, they ask, “My own glorious intellect is reflected in its conventional solemnities and (what we pirates reck a great deal worse) ponderous levities, yet I ken not its opaque theme, its sine qua nonce!”. Aye, well the pirates ken.

The list hath two o’erweening characteristics. The first – that each entry on the list has been made into a worthy and tedious film or television extravaganza to lull flaccid lubbers into conformity with spurious universal “truths” and “values”. Pah! True pirates know that lubbers are but cattle for their masters. The second (more despicable) characteristic of this exhaustively tedious list is that nary a one of its obvious, conformist tomes takes as its subject the salty ecstasy of the lives of true pirates who ply the several seas their wonders to perform. Not even Watership Down!

And yet, with never a trace of irony and preening with the shy immodesty of the triumphant child receiving a plastic trophy for victory in the annual egg and spoon race, World be Storm and his grass-loving acolytes make passive-aggressive demands for our applause. “O look!”, they yelp “We have been so good! We have read so many!” Ha! We pirates waited for them all to come out on video and can faithfully report that verily did they suck upon the big one.

Pirates recognise the obsequious embrace of Leavisite diktats when they see it. How old FR must be a-cackling in his grave, the final bolt-hole of all lubbers, six-feet down in the foetid earth where no soothing susurrus of seatide lapping hath e’er been heard! The lubbers report with unmanly earnest that they have diligently attended to this opprobrious list, this ersatz “canon”, and kept the lubber faith by leavening it only with vapid popular entertainments.

Y’arr, we pirates see how they fall upon their Hobbit and their Hitchhiker in bathetic gratitude for the licensed chortles to be found therein. Why a Hobbit is the very embodiment of everything true pirates abominate, with its furry feet and its wretched penchant for burrowing into the heinous mould; its eschewment of precipitous rigging and the call of the crow’s nest. A Hobbit sniffs carefully amid subterranean clays. With deep draughts, a pirate fills his barrel-like chest with the crusty vapours of good sea air. Aye!

Well, pirates can diligently attend to cannon of their own, and are not backward about unleashing a broadside of honest grape on a snivelling pack of unworthy dogs. A pirate wears his (or her) learning lightly, not on his (or her) sleeve like some darling little cub scout on whose geansaí mummykins has sewn a rash of merit badges as long as the yardarm on a Spanish Mano’war. A pirate is apprenticed to old Neptune his self. He is a child of such educational theorists as Britton and Rosenblatt who prioritised the authentic experience of the individual and the subjective responses of the learner over the passive reception of universal ‘truths’ from approved literary historical texts.

The true pirate is not fit for the drab and silent bookroom; he devils for the sea, he is indentured to lived experience. He is in the world, his intercourse is wide, he has known argosies of language from a thousand coasts. He sails proudly and with open heart among privateers, wenches and cabinboys of all nations; he is not some pair of ragged claws scuttling along the floors of silent seas, a (rather damp) copy of The Hobbit clutched twixt his timid pincers.

Y’arr this tragic list is a reflection of the bourgeois tyranny of the Lubber education system with its pirate-disdained emphasis on the attainment of good marks rather than the value of knowledge for its practical use in the governance of a tight ship or the artful running through of an adolescent midshipman bedecked in the gilt livery of the English Queen. Why it calls to mind the despair of the Lubber’s own Chief Education Examiner (whose heart secretly belongs to piracy) who owned himself down on this sort of thing. “It is unfortunate” quoth he, “to witness the syllabus being edited down to a minimum exam-focused path, featuring a very short list of too familiar texts to the detriment of the student’s broader education”.

The pirates note with interest the contribution of Chekov Feeney to this orgy of Lubber self-congratulation. Mr. Feeney refuses to believe that any buik of which he disapproves could possibly have been enjoyed by anyone else. Mr. Feeney does not like any buik which smacks of bourgeois introspection and Mr. Feeney refuses to accept that any buik he does not like has merit. Mr. Feeney is on the right track. We pirates also sneer at the timid witterings of the bourgeoisie. Mr. Feeney, however, is an Indymedian, which, like a Hobbit, is a sub-species of Lubber, and the only thing he likes is social realism about French coalminers, who are anathema to pirates in every way. Mr. Feeney thinks that the only good buik is a social realist buik about social realist lubbery. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. The only good buik is a buik about Pirates!

Let the Lubbers cleave to Leavis and the rest. Let them stick like barnacles to approved texts handed down by their betters, texts which privilege the Lubber experience to the detriment of experiences which are deemed “other”. The world of decent piracy is not the only one which finds no reflection in their wretched lists, but it is the only one that matters. And yet, in a moment of rare tenderness, we pirates wonder how many other benighted souls have strained to hear responses sung in their own registers? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Not the Lubbers!

Scorn them lads! Run away to sea! Join us on the ocean waves! Drink to the devil and have done with the rest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

I love you all,


Captain Mendelbaum.

Rough Night in Ron’s

Y’earr, tis a right ol’ state I’m in, as you join me in me Sloop a few leagues south o’ Villahermosa. Though I consider meself as tough an old sea dog as ever went a’sail, I were lucky to escape with me life from a run-in in Ron’s tavern in Tortuga, home port of the dread pirate Major Twenty.

It all started well, mind. I arrived into Ron’s with me lusty crew in tow, and encountered the dread Major Twenty a-suppin’ at a pot of that filthy black Irish beer he insists on drinkin’. I bade a hello to him and his first mate Stinking Pete. I ordered a tot o’ rum and settled in to listen to the Major tell one o’ his interminable tales. “What class o’ shaggy dog story is this?” asked one o’ me crew. “Whisht”, I bade him, “The Major’s tales are hit and miss, but you never know when he might come up with a funny one”

Alas, it seems this was one of his off-days. “Oh noes”, I groaned, “he’s a-holdin’ forth about the ills of society” I usually don’t bother listenin’ when he’s in this kind o’ mood, but so full was the tavern with reprobates o’ the seas, that it seemed as if the whole o’ the piratesphere was in there listenin to ‘im. Hangin’ on his every word they were too, and remarking “Legend”, even when the old dog wasn’t being all that funny. T’is the same in piracy; if you get a reputation for fearsomeness, the lubbers will be afear’t of ye, even when you’re not being very scary.

“Padophiles are scum. Someone should just come out and say that. I fucking hate them” he said, to a great roar of approval from the hearties o’ the piratesphere. “arr Twenty, you legend”, said one o’ his cronies, “tis a true thing you say, and a brave one. T’is the terribly edgy and controversial buccaneer you are”. “I don’t give a fuck, I’ll say anything, for I am the dread pirate, Major Twenty”, he replied. “I also hate people who murder their wives” “Bad parents are also not good!” said another, to a huge roar of approval, and another, “that feller who locked his kids in the basement in Austria is a bad sort too, an’ I don’t care if it’s not Piratically Correct to say so.”

I groaned, for it seemed that there would be no entertainment in Ron’s for us tonight. This went on for some time, with the company each denouncing bad things, then slappin’ each other on the back for havin the balls to point out the bleedin’ obvious. I was about to head out to a wenchin’ house when I heard a sharp few words from Buck the ‘lubber that stuck in me craw. Buck is one o’ Twenty’s cronies, though there are many who say he’s more like an imitator, but with a smaller crew and no doubloons. Certainly, ’tis true that he lacks any o’ the wit of the Major. Maybe t’was the rum, but me blood was up from a hearin‘ some o’ what Buck had to say. I stopped an turned on me heel, for the true pirate crew is open to all races and creeds. We care not from where you hail, or to whom you pray, so long as you are the scum of the earth and devoid of any scruple or shame. “Aye Buck, if that is your real name” I said, “t’is the fearless pirate y’are when me dozen romany crewmen aren’t in the place. But they’re stout men and true, damn me if I don’t swear ‘pon’t.”

Then, as suddenly as he’d come bravely forth from the crowed, the ‘lubber was back amongst them, and never have I seen such a pitiful sight. “Freedom o’ speech! Freedom o’ speech!” he kept a-parroting, like a, er, parrot. “Aye” said I “the laws of the sea guarantees us both that we can say what we like. So stop squealing like a such a blasted child, just because a True Pirate doesn’t like what ye say!”. But I don’t think he was listenin’, for he kep a sayin’ “Freedom o’ speech, I’ll a-say what I like, you can’t stop me!” even though I never tried to stop him. “What’s wrong with giving offense?” he finally said, and I honestly think he didn’t know the answer, for as I’ve said, his cargo bay isn’t exactly overstuffed with wits.

I’d had about enough, and reached for me sword sayin’ “I’m as free as you Buck – free to call you a whey-faced poltroon and a cabin-boy in pirates clothin’!” I was sure I had the crowd on me side, for ‘tis bad form in pirate circles to be seen whingin’ like a baby the way Buck was. You take your licks and get on with it, here in the Piratesphere. I was wrong. The mob were turnin’ nasty, and they chased me out the door o’ Ron’s and down to the harbour, where I was lucky to get away with me hide. Back in the Tavern, the Major was the only one not to have joined the mob. He was behind the bar, stealin’ as many bottles of rum as he could carry back to his boat.

The Pirates’ Flag Is Deepest Black


Ye join me as I run ahead of a brisk sou’ wester from Maracaibo Bay to Santa Marta. The sky is clear blue, the sails are full, and above me and me crew of lusty seamen flies the Jolly Roger, proud emblem of all that is piratey. Long has this flag flown o’er the ships of buccaneer and pirate alike, the skull symbolising the death’s head that is the fate of all who cross us, and the bones symbolising bones or something.

But news has reached me that in England, the skull and cross’d bones has lost the power it once had to strike fear into the heart of lanlubbers and lily-livered merchant seafarers alike. I’ve learned that that a buccaneer in Surrey has incurred the ferocious wrath of the Royal Navy, or Mole Valley County Council or some other such lanlubbin’ scum, for his flyin’ of the dread black jack. It seems the navy sent this pirate comrade an ultimatum to strike his colours or suffer the consequences, and he, a proud man, insisted on flying the Jolly Roger from his “house”, which I take to be some class of land-based boat. I shiver to think that even now he is most likely being keel-hauled for his offence.

Distressin’ as this news is, it is sadly typical of the low esteem in which pirates are now held. In the glory days of piratin’, the 1970’s, we felt that lanlubbin’ as a political system was on it’s last legs, and that the people would any moment come to see the rightness of the pirate analysis and flock to the true buccaneer alternative. In those days, you’d fly a false flag from your ship, the flag of a nation perchance, and trick into your rogueish crew honest men (pthooh!) who thought they were signin’ on for king and country (two things no pirate has any time for). By the time they learned we were pirates, t’was too late, they were one of us. Y’arr, but we did it for their own good. T’were nought but false consciousness we were riddin’ them of, much as you’d careen a hull to rid it of barnacles.

Still flying the false flag, we’d lure in other craft a’seas, then when prey drifted too close, run up the true pirate colours and chase after the HMS Mole Valley Council or whatever it’s name might be. Usually the sight alone of the Jolly Roger would be enough to strike fear into the hearts of the civil servants aboard, and the sloop, brigantine, or local government administrative body would be taken without a shot fired. You’d pillage all they had a’board, and by nightfall be in Cartagena to sell a’market the treasury tags and staples thereby obtain’d. Nowadays though, the power of the flag has waned, through years of dilution by Johnny Depp and his new piracy. But the day will come when the pirate flag will again bring terror to all who behold it. History demands it. We at the IPR will be to the fore of the project that makes sure of’t. And if we can’t manage that, we’ll write at great length about it, for there’s little else for an old pirate to be a-doin’.

All together now me hearties, “We’ll keep the black jack flying here!”

Heidi Klum: Pirate Or Not?


Ye join me in me cabin, a few leagues nor’west o’ the Yucatan. As the sun goes down ‘neath the yardarm I ponder once again the difference ‘twixt a true pirate and a feller as has only the bagatelle of a bucaneer, but none o’ the essence. Now, as I showed ye last week, it takes more than an eye-patch to show yourself a brother o’ the sail.

Still, an eye-patch is a start, as can be seen in the case of this here wench, Heidi Klum (pictured, yesterday). To be sure, anyone who’s seen her dish it out on America’s Next Top Model knows that this is a lass as has some steel in her, and a tongue sharper than any barbary corsair’s cutlass. But is she pirate or no?

Not Pirate

* German.

* Has all own teeth.

* Favours couture wrap dresses over long coats, linen shirts and sashes.

* A model.


* Accepts payment for modelling work only in doubloons.

* Once sacked the town of Petit-Goave, Haiti.

* Eschews backstage cocaine, preferring rum.

* Chest.

Conclusion: Pirate

This were a tough decision to make, and one requirin’ much thought and ponderin’. But I have ponder’d on Heidi Klum many’s the long lonely night a’seas, and I say that only a damn fool who hasn’t had his lime ration would call her anythin’ but a true buccaneer. An’ I’ll strike down any man who says otherwise, damn their eyes!

This time seven nights, even I knows not where I’ll be, for that is the life of the pirate. But wheree’er I am, anchored or a’seas, you can be sure that I’ll be askin’ once again, “Pirate Or Not?”



It was one o’them weekends that just wouldn’t end, and it’s only now that I’m feeling the better of it, to tell you of me exploits since Friday eventide.

Me and a fine gaggle of me brothers o’ the sail, Black Bart Roberts, L’Ollonais, and their men sailed into Port Morne at sunset and there was ne’er a wink o’ sleep to he had till dawn, as we drank and wenched the night through, for our life is much more interestin’ than yours.

Shiver me timbersies!

On Saturday we hauled anchor and made our way to Trinidad where me old pal Stede Bonnett was to have revels at a new tavern and sea-shanty venue which you haven’t been to because it hasn’t even opened yet. On the way we nearly came a cropper courtesy of the pirate hunter Captain Kidd. He pursued us for half the day, and fired many’s the volley o’ shot at us, but we eluded his scurvey grasp in the end, although I did catch some grape-shot on the left side o’me face. Owsies!! Piratin’ is a dangerous life, and a more excitin’ one than yours.

We arrived safely in Trinidad and had tots o’rum with me dread pirate rivals and BPFF’s (Best Pirate Friends Forever) Jean Lafitte and Henry Morgan before going to Stede’s place for jugs of ale with lime (for the avoidin’ o’ the scurvey). The sea-shanties were intense, maties!

On Sunday we went west to Santa Marta, and spent the day eatin’ far too much hard tack an turtle soup in an eatin’ house near the harbour. Then me ol’ pal Edward Teach and his men arrived, and we had an all-night parrot party on the beach, for we do be such notoriously crazy pirates that we have our revels even on a Sunday night.

Splice the mainsailsies!

Since then I’ve been becalmed here just north o’ the Sargasso, staring at the stars and ponderin’ how much more dangerous and edgy the life o’ the pirate is compared to that o’ the landlubbers. But be assured maties, if you can’t be as great a reveller as me, ye can at least hear me tell you o’ me own roisterings. For I do know that ye dearly want to hear o’ them.


Listening to: Sea Shanties

Reading: Sea Charts

Drinking: Salt water, for our canteens ran dry yesterday

O’Malley Vanquished by PD’s New Cannon

Avast ye!

Word reaches me here in me stronghold a few leagues east o’ Port Royale that the piratin’ influence in Ireland wanes further, after the merchants and gentleman’s alliance that styles itself The “Pirate Destroyers” invested in a new Cannon. Any of us who have sailed the Seven Seas will know that the acquisition of new cannon is the first step a merchant takes before setting out to best pirates like ourselves, who do live only to sail alongsides him and pillage his precious cargo afore it reaches the New World.

It’s only a few months ago that this tiny clique o’ lanlubbers was routed in open sea battle. A few of their number were washed up on a remote and desolate Island, and it were the fond hope of all a’seas that they’d expire of hunger, if the scurvey didn’t get’em first. It do bring a tear to me eye to learn that this same cabal o’ well-to-do merchants, upstart barristers and aspirin’ nobles have got their hands ‘pon a cannon. Whether it fires round shot or grape shot, I know not, but in dispatches from the port o’ Dublin I do hear that ‘twas in action today and won a defeat over Fiona O’Malley. Now, I know naught o’ this O’Malley lass, but I do hear that she’s part of an illustrious family. I surmise then that she’s the latest o’ the female pirates to follow in line from the great Grace O’Malley, as fearsome a pirate as ever stood ‘pon a burnin’ deck. So It’s with the sadness that only a seadog that’s lost a brother or sister o’ the sail can feel, that I ponder the future of these Pirate Destroyers with their new cannon. I console meself that the cannon, from a foundry in Galway, is new and untested, and that its owners have not the men aboard, nor the wit, to make use of it.

Make fast the jigger!

Pirates v Landlubbers; An analysis of class in Ireland

Arr, Me Hearties,

If I tell ‘ee that most chroniclers hold that the Republic be a landlubber economy, you will laugh the joyless, sardonic laugh of the true sea dog. They writes in the ledgers of their counting houses that the citizens is all landlubbers with a pirate rump that exists on the margins. But even with a patch over one eye, true pirates can see better than the landlubbers with their two good ‘uns that the past fifteen years have resulted in a mere pseudo expansion of the landlubber classes.

Aye, the landlubbers claim to ‘ave more treasure. But, mark it well shipmates, they would rather spend their dubloons and pieces of eight on fabergé eggs and the infernal pottery of Josiah Wedgewood than bury it on a sun-kissed Caribbean islet in a good teak chest, 15 paces from the skeleton of a dead shipmate, or fritter it away on rum and wenches in a Barbary tavern. And they calls this “the good times”!? Worst of all, armchair pirates and the landlubbing acolytes of Johnny Depp and the New Piracy have internalised this false analysis. They pander to the delusions of the ‘new landlubbers’ but forget that, in essence, nothing has changed.

Analysis, y\'arr.

Breaking down the population by occupation, we see the following:


Sea-Dogs – 1,000,000

Ships Cooks – 25,000

Parrots – 1,500,000

Cabin Boys – 10,000

Plank-makers – 80,000

Captains – 10,000

People with Beards – 700,000

Wenches – 1,500,000

Tavern-owners – 20,000

Ships-surgeons – 1,990

Buccaneers – 150,000

Privateers – 65,000

Shanty-singers – 250

Chandlers – 3,000

TOTAL – Way more than the Landlubbers


Footmen – 1,450

Innkeepers – 500

Highwaymen – 27

Judges – 136

Horses – 10,000

David McWilliams – 1

The Spanish – 5,000

Farmers – 6,000

Schoolboys – 3,900

Ladies – 357

Potters – 200

TOTAL – Way less than the Pirates.

The analysis of the Irish Pirate Review shows that by any objective yardarm, most of these so-called ‘new landlubbers’ are actually engaged in traditional pirate occupations or in occupations which, though new, align their interests firmly with those of piracy, buccaneering and privateering off the Spanish Main.

While there be talk – y’arr, treacherous talk – of landlubber aspirations, of farming, of sending good lads to school instead of pressing them as cabin boys, ‘tis but a façade of change. P’tooh. True sea dogs know that the tyrant landlubbers will never give up their hold on Spanish gold even as they dupe armchair pirates, Johnny Depp and the so-called ‘new landlubbers’ into slavish obeisance to their land-bound ways.

These so-called ‘new landlubbers’ must ask themselves if, for all their new fangled a-doings and transpirings, they have seen even a single dubloon of Spanish gold! Nay, nay and, thrice, nay! There is only one path to the Spanish Gold and it is through the unabashed embrace of salty piracy.

Our analysis shows that the greater part of this island population is pirates whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not. Soon, we shall be all at sea, and at sea the landlubbers must be made to walk the plank. The ‘new’ landlubbers must choose. Is it to be the plank or women, rum and Spanish Gold on the Barbary Main?!

Shiver me timbers!

Photo Credit

Arrh! The Photo above be available for us to be using though Creative Commons by missy_1074 from Flickr. We thankee!
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