Ahoy! Splice the mainbrace with a yo-ho-ho! Me hearties, hoist up the Jolly Roger, drink your scurvy rum and give ’em a broadside with old Billy Bones. Can you tell what’s happened to create the flavour of this report from old Blackbeard Fuse? Yes, that’s right! I’ve had a sex change. No, I jest, you old salty dogs. Here, drink this grog while I tells ‘ee all a tale.

The atmosphere has not been good recently. What with the current economic turndown, war zones scattered hither and thither across the globe and the fleas in my best wig, it’s all been rather depressing. To counteract this gloom-laden air, I decided to dig into the coffers and purchase a boat. I’d always had a hankering for the sailing life, after seeing the film, ‘Rowing Boat, Intergalactic Spaceship And Giant Squid’s Anchor At Tombstone Gulch’, starring John Wayne as a cowboy who goes fishing, gets lost in the Atlantic and is abducted by aliens who drop him in the desert (it wasn’t all that good. Elizabeth Taylor looked ridiculous as Tonto). This venture would, with a bit of luck, inject a little zest back into my dreary existence, so yesterday I made up my mind. Leaping out of the bath, putting on my clothes and making my way out of the supermarket, I ran to a newsagents and bought a copy of Battleship Times (Incorporating Seaweed Monthly). This august journal carries adverts for vessels which, having once been shipwrecked, have been lovingly repaired by skilled craftsmen, themselves former Sons of the Sea. A quarter-page advert for ‘Ron’s Cheap Tubs’ caught my eye, and in a flash I was at round at the showroom. I must say, Ron himself entered into the whole spirit of the caper. Dressed as a medium-sized barnacle – he said that all of the Large Barnacle suits were already on hire that day – Ron showed me his superb collection of luxury yachts, some of them fitted out with useful extras such as hulls and decks. We were joined on our tour by his coxswain and boatswain, and later by his synthesizerswain, who supplied the music. Gazing fondly at a powerful-looking catamaran with three wheels, I asked him the price. “That one’s fifty billion dollars, but you drive a hard bargain, you ruthless jack-tar, so you can have it for fifty. Forty-five if you can drive it away now”. I noticed that, when he mentioned money, the parrot on Ron’s shoulder burst into tears and started crooning mournful dirges. “He was lost at sea for six months”, Ron explained. “Adrift in a dinghy, with only an ipod and some Leonard Cohen songs. He always reacts like this”. I took this at face value, but noticed that Ron’s fingers were crossed behind his back; they were crossed so hard, some of the bones were sticking out. “Rheumatism, caused by years of torpedoing the powder monkey”, he mumbled, and inhaled some more chloroform. I resolved to be wary of this character.

SHIP’S LOG – JUNE 1 2008

Have been adrift for three weeks without food or water. Terrible indigestion. Supplies of medicine, bandages and novelty hats extremely low. Was passed at sea by cannibals wearing bibs and looking at their watches – not a good sign. Ron’s boat has turned out to be a bad investment. I looked in the dictionary, and it only fits one of the criteria for being a ship – technically it floats. Am playing those Leonard Cohen songs too much for my liking – tomorrow, I’ll look in the hold for the ship’s ‘Charlie Ukelele’s Party Time Hits’ CD. Fed the squid and am going to sleep – it is going to be a long night….