Posts Tagged ‘blog’

The Dictionary of Cliches

22 July, 2017

The Dictionary of ClichesThe Dictionary of Cliches by James T. Rogers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My life at times has been like a soap opera. This review, you might call news of a kidnapping with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
_________________________________________

This is an entertaining sort of book for pulling out at odd moments or when you need a topic to talk about, or for me when I need reminding about lurrrve, kidnapping, people who forge Chippendale chairs and that I once had a life.

I was sitting around the swimming pool in a marina, not looking glamorous in a bikini and owl-eye shades, but wearing beat-up shorts and flip-flops, sailor’s clothes, when I noticed this man looking at me. Not my type, not really, so I didn’t respond. He got up to get a drink and when he came back he took the lounger next to mine, smiled and opened his book. This book. A few minutes later he said, “I could say do you come here often, but that would be a cliche,” and on we went from there.

Grahame was a very nice man, a Canadian, he owned and captained a big dive boat trimaran that had a crew of six and chartered throughout the Caribbean. We went out for drinks a few times but nothing much else because I was mad for another man, Richard, who was equally mad for me but his wife was rather an obstacle, even after she’d left before we were even together. So we were just mad for each other and often at each other, and having drinks and long, soulful talks.

I heard that Richard was sailing away soon; he wanted to sell the classic wooden yacht he’d restored with the same techniques he used for forging the antique furniture he sold for huge amounts of money, and in desperation I decided to kidnap him. I got a seafront villa on a deserted beach where the sea is so wild few people go. I stocked the fridge with champagne, grapes and chocolates and a joint in case that was his poison, and put in my bag his favourite brand of cigarettes. At the bar I induced him to come to the car and was just going to drive it off when he said, “I’m not going ANYWHERE with you” and got out of the car and went back to the marina bar. So did I. I was furious and humiliated. Revenge would come publicly and instantly.

I radioed Grahame on his boat to come and meet me in the bar and a couple of minutes later there we were, arms linked, going to my car, ‘something wrong with the handle that opens the bonnet’ I said and he got in. And I drove off.

It was a night filled with the most passionate, vengeful sex. I was so angry, he was so crazy. Everything I did was to spite Richard, but Grahame was off in his own head, complaining of extreme pain where others feel joy, telling me of the creepy thoughts of death he always had with sex.

Next morning I took him back to the marina in time for breakfast and Richard and I resumed our strange circling of each other. We always contrived to be in the same place day and night. Occasionally Grahame would persuade me to have a drink, but my interest, such as there was, had gone.

One day Grahame wasn’t there anymore and a friend came over to tell me that he had bought the trimaran and Grahame had gone home to Canada, voluntarily going to a mental home, but that he’d left me a book. This one. A dictionary of cliches.

(What happened after that with Richard involved voodoo and curses and more rubbish like that, but I never heard from Grahame again).

This story was full of cliches Do you believe any of it?

 

(It was all true and considerably toned down!)

 

Advertisements

The Perfect Storm

14 May, 2017

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the SeaThe Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t see the film so I came fresh to the book. It had a lot of impact on me because I have been in a small boat, a 34′ catamaran in a 4 day storm out in the Atlantic before Brazil. It wasn’t a ‘perfect storm’ but it was still rough, with huge seas and a constant exhausting beating against the wind. It prevented us going into Fernando do Noronha, our next stop, we couldn set a course for the archipelago at all. So I could not just see but feel what a difficult position they were in.

I know quite a bit about sword-fishing. I’ve read Linda Greenlaw‘s books. An aside – there are very few countries and vessels in the world where a woman would have the opportunity to swordfish let alone be a captain. It is an extremely physical job, setting hooks and squid bait, on spooled longlines hat run for miles and rip your fingers. The hooks are so big they could rip right through a man’s palm if the spool should run on. Then there is the killing of the swordfish when hauled in, gutting and icing them. As well as directing the crew, a hard-drinking group of macho men, maintaining the boat, it’s structure, mechanics and electronics. The electronics, depth sounders, radar and the like are not just for navigation but crucial in working out where the fish are. This was Linda’s strength, this finding the schools of swordfish.

Not only was Greenlaw one of an infintessimally small number of women swordfishing, but she was the most successful captain of all time. Where the normal catch is 1 ton a day, for seven days straight she hauled in 5 tons each day. The money from the catch on a boat is 50% to the owner, then the expenses are taken off and a set formula applied to the rest where the captain takes the most and the newest deckhand the least. That month the deckhand took home $10,000.

How do I know about swordfishing? My ex-husband was Chief Fisheries Officer and used to supervise the boats that came to fish in our waters. Because the permits they bought were limited in what they could do and the by catch could not be sold, a local would always be on the boat with them, sometimes my ex. It was all quite fascinating.

Swordfish have a long, barbed extension to their jaw that is both a weapon of attack and used to slash prey fish to weaken them. When they are hauled on board alive, they are very brave and will attack to the last. They can kill a man, or almost as bad, a wound from the sword will almost always become infected and the boat might be very far in distance and time from home.

There are always by-catch pulled up with the swordfish. There are the tuna. If you’ve only seen one dead held aloft by a fisherman it’s as if you’d only ever seen a rose browned with frost and never in it’s full bloom. Sailing across the ocean, three Atlantic blue fin tuna, each about 15’ swam in front of the boat maintaining an exact distance for more than hour. They were gorgeous, a rainbow of shimmering colours like sunlight on oil, like just beneath the surface. But the tuna aren’t a problem, they are gutted and thrown on to the ice along with the swordfish – generally a perk of the fishermen, the boat owner doesn’t get a share of by-catch.

The problem is the live sharks pulled up. They are vicious and their carcass is dangerous. It alone will rip the skin from a man. It’s not smooth, it’s not even sandpaper-like, it’s actually covered in tiny teeth, denticles. Sharks have to be shot as they being pulled up. The fishermen sometimes take the teeth as mementos and to sell. The flesh has to be thrown overboard immediately before it spoils and stinks of ammonia, piss. If shark is bled within minutes of being caught, and then iced, it is delicious. It’s a firm, white fish with a mild flavour. Very nice deep fried in the Trinidadian style of bake and shark with chives, thyme, garlic and hot peppers.

The book was a blow-by-blow account of the storm and how it affected the crew, their family on shore, and the boat, Andrea Gale, Linda Greenlaw’s sister ship. Linda’s boat was the Hannah Boden, both owned by Alden Leeman. The boat foundered amidst terrible seas and all crew were lost and never found. It was a harrowing story, and because I knew the subject so well, I lived through it and felt it and it upset me a great deal. The author, Sebastian Junger, has that power to bring you into the story and involve you. I did enjoy it, but perhaps not in quite the way one usually uses the word “enjoy”.