Jun 18, 2017
Our third and final episode of maritime tales. Among some lighthearted shorts, we meet a sailor's wife, and then witness the birth of the ship that's we've heard so much about.
Music: Creepy — Bensound.com.
James: Here are some Totally Made Up Tales, brought to you by the magic of the internet.
Alternating: Jump over small hoops. It's better than going through them.
Sweeten your deal with honey. It will help you get sales.
Mixing your metaphors will lead you to water.
Walk a long way. You'll clear your mind and stretch your legs.
James: And now: The Sailor's Wife.
Alternating: Heather was the wife of a sailor who spent many months away at sea at a time. She survived on hope and her only consolation was her child, Phillip. He was the apple of her eye. Three years old and running around like a maniac. Just the spit of his father.
One day, Heather and Phillip were playing in the sand when Phillip saw a ship entering the harbour.
"That is my Daddy's ship," he cried.
"No," said Heather. "Your daddy is away for another six months."
"No," said Phillip. "That is my Daddy's ship," and he stamped his foot petulantly.
Heather caught him up in an embrace. "We'll go and look at it."
They walked to the harbour wall, Phillip squirming in anticipation.
"There he is!", he said, pointing to a man walking away from the ship.
"No," said Heather. "That man is too tall."
"There!" said Phillip, pointing at a different man.
"No," said Heather. "That man is too short."
"There!", said Phillip, pointing at a third man.
"Well," said Heather, "it is very similar to Roger. I wonder what he's doing back so soon."
They walked quickly to where the man was standing.
"Are you my husband?", asked Heather.
"Are you my Daddy?", asked Phillip.
"Are you my family?", asked the man, and they embraced.
"Why are you back so soon?" asked Heather.
"That is a long story," said Roger, "and one day, I will tell it to you."
"We met a disaster just as we were passing the Rock of Gibraltar. The Captain saw three figures floating above the deck and one pointed at him and let a fearsome cry. The second pointed at him and spoke words of dread. The third pointed at him and spoke nothing. The Captain locked himself in his cabin and refused to come out, insisting that we return home at once. The First Mate brought us around and navigated us safely home. I do not know when we shall sail again, but this is a terrible portent."
Heather held his hand and hoped that he would never go away again.
Phillip also held his father's hand.
Alternating: Attention to detail is a devil's errand, so allow yourself to be sloppy.
Muster Mister Custer, pester Lester. Faster, Pastor Caster! and foster Coster Gloucester.
"Splice the main brace," said Jeffrey, and proceeded to get drunk.
James: And now: The Ship Awakes.
Andrew: Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang went the hammers against the wood and the sound reverberated around the mighty shed of the shipyard.
James: They were putting the finishing touches on the latest ship to roll through the George & Brothers Shipyards, at Chatham.
Andrew: She was a truly beautiful vessel, destined for the merchant marine. Large, imposing, grandiose, sleek, missing only the final pieces of decking and the mast to be fixed and raised.
James: Spencer, the ship's architect was watching from one side, from the office, as the men swarmed over her.
Andrew: He turned, from watching the finishing touches being made, to the ship that he had been imagining for so long. Rolled up the plans on his desk, locked the office door, and headed off to meet the ship's new owner.
James: Over a pint in the Rope and Anchor, they toasted the successful completion of the ship's hull, and looked forward to her launch next week, to join the merchant fleet owned by this particular businessman.
Andrew: The end of the day came, the foreman blew his whistle, the workmen downed their tools and set out for their homes, and the shipyard shed was locked securely for the night.
James: There she rested, silent and waiting.
Andrew: The silence of the ship building shed at night had the special quality that only comes to spaces that so often ring with noise. It had a textured feeling to it, as if you could reach out and touch it.
James: A shaft of moonlight through the windows of the shed, illuminated the brass name plate on the ship's stern. "Sea Sprite."
Andrew: If anyone had been in the shed, they might have had the eerie feeling that someone behind them was watching, and have turned and found nothing but the ship bearing down on them, as its soul slowly started to awaken.
James: What do ships dream about before they first touch the ocean? What can a boat imagine before it feels the kiss of a wave? What could go through the mind of Sea Sprite, before she had ever even tasted the open air?
Andrew: That same observer, who we earlier imagined, might feel, not just a watchful, but was it a malevolent presence? No. Not quite malevolent, but somehow not of this world.
James: All ships have personalities, and those personalities are shaped and changed by their captain and their crew, but at birth, they are invested by only two things. The men who built her and the wood she is constructed from.
Andrew: Once upon a time, in a far off land, where a warm rain falls for much of the day, for much of the year, and many exotic animals make their homes, and the forest is alive with the squawks of birds, and the ribbitting of frogs, and the hissing of snakes and other wildlife… there stood a tree. A mighty hardwood tree, towering over all the others.
James: It had been there so long, that it had seen not only generations of creatures and birds come and go, but it had also seen the gradual rise of the forest around it, and indeed, deep within its rings, it still bore the memories of the open plain.
Andrew: Ah, the time of the open plain. The tree was one of the few remaining witnesses of the period in history, when humans has first descended from the trees, walked on the grounds, and formed their earliest tribes.
James: In its branches and whorls, in its trunk and its bark, were encoded the history of not only the human race, but so many other species that it had seen rise and sometimes fall before it.
Andrew: Owing to its long life, the tree possessed a deep wisdom that few others were able to obtain, through years of reflection and adversity. Many human shamans and magic men and women had come to worship at the tree, and to draw strength from its wisdom and from its magical power.
James: For generations, the savviest traders would come and eat under the tree, hoping that its wisdom would somehow filter into them, and help them be better in the world.
Andrew: Now the tree stood tall and proud. Its history rooted deeply inside it. And it knew that a change was about to come.
James: The animals and birds were gradually being driven out of the forest, and indeed the forest itself, was being felled one tree at a time.
Andrew: And then, the fateful day dawned when the foresters came for the mystical tree itself, and began to hack their little axes into its bark, and slowly cut out an enormous wedge from its base, until it fell — bringing down with it many smaller trees, and other parts of the canopy, so that it too could, in its turn, be packed up, chopped down into planks, shipped off, and sold to European merchants.
James: In the shed of the shipyard, Sea Sprite lay waiting, and dreamed of revenge.
I'm James, and I'm here with Andrew. These stories were recorded without advanced planning, and then lightly edited for the discerning listener. Join us next time for more Totally Made Up Tales.
Andrew: Muster Mister Coster. Pester Lester, test…
James: No, I think when we pester Lester, you need to move on to something else, don't you?
Andrew: Oh, okay.
James: Well, I don't think there's a third one with pester Lester.
Andrew: Oh, I don't know why in my head, it was gonna go pester Lester, test a sister. But, that was maybe a bit…
James: Yeah, that wasn't gonna happen. I would not have guessed that.
Andrew: But, okay. So, pester Lester. I'll just keep "test a sister" for myself.