Tag Archives: WWI

In the Mother Land, Comrade

Crikey O’Reily – it’s been a while since I last posted – I blame a lack of inspiration but I am slowly getting my mojo back.

Before I get into my swing, I would like to congratulate Amy Winehouse for being drug and drink free for two years now – well done Amy !

For those that don’t know, I am currently frequenting the ‘Mother Land’ of St Petersburg (that’s Leningrad for you oldies, or even Petrograd for you very old oldies, or better still St Petersburg for you readers that were around before WWI) and heading for Moscow on the overnight train tomorrow evening.  I am already thinking that I would like to spend more time here as I went for a wander around the city today after sending the bird out to work to earn some dollar, like the pimpernel that I am.

For the gamers amongst you, well that will be Steve, I took the tube today.  The escalator down into the depths had a very communist feel about it.  I know you want me to explain.  It was the stereotypical scene that we have seen in movies for years, but if you are a gamer, you no doubt would have played ‘Call of Duty’ at some point in your life, better still, the ‘World at War’ version.  As I dropped downward on the escalator, I fell into silence.  Silence of course apart from the solid sounding rumble of the escalator punctuated by the sound of someone speaking over the tannoy system.  The tannoy speakers were placed between the opposing  escalators and facing upward to the roof of the tube tunnel that the escalators ran through as they drop hundreds of feet down.  This gave it a clarity that was almost set in stone.  The people coming up, had expressionless faces, much like that of the tube in London.  Maybe all countries have the same effect on you when it comes to tube travel – you have to have a tube face, a bit like a poker face perhaps?

Anyway, it was just like playing a scene from Call of Duty, as I froze on the escalator.  My mind wandered of course, you would expect that.  I was thinking back to the Cold War Era and I could easily feel the potential this place would have had at suppressing an uprising to move away from communism.  I imagined, if I was a spy, planted deeply behind enemy lines here in Leningrad, how I would simply be shitting my pants purely because of this escalator ride.  The sombre silence of it, the drum and drone of the escalator, not too loud but powerful in its drone – left you with the impression that it could carry a tank up it should the mother land require, while the tannoy speakers pumped out continual communist propaganda.

I was also in awe of the amount of monuments, statues and generally spectacular buildings and that got me thinking too.  I guess, when you want a propaganda machine that keeps your people all pulling together, making them remember previous historic battles with thousands of magnificent works is a damn good way to do it.  I also got to thinking that if there were another call to arms of the likes of WWI and WWII, I am left with little doubt that Russia could easily muster another army of equivalent size or larger, whilst the UK and America would have more conscientious objectors than volunteers – because of course, if you are English or American, your country owes you something and you shouldn’t have to work for it, or god forbid, risk your life for it.

Still on a war theme, tomorrow I am going to the war museum.  Our guide drove us past it last night and I just have to get a photo of me with the mobile missile launcher.  I took a look at an old war ship from the turn of the 20th century today, a ship called Aurora.  Quite important if you are Russian but unfortunately for me, none of the scripts had been translated into English so I couldn’t absorb the history. Anyway, for something that was around in 1903 – it was a scary arsed piece of weaponry even if I couldn’t understand what they were waffling about.

I have also been looking for a vintage Russian Infantry Coat complete with emblems, lapels and pins etc.  No joy here, only new ones to be had but I am told Moscow is the place to find those. I did try on some genuine 1997 Russian Navy hats but they were just a tad too small.

Getting toward the end now – let me thank Horley for her inspirational tip-off of a web site called Park Run.  I am now officially training for my first race, at the ripe old age of 43.  The next Saturday morning that I am in England, I will be very competitive as I burst onto the amateur running scene in all my glory.  I am registered and ready to go.

I also need to say nah nah nah nah nah to Susan.  I am certain she will be jealous that I am visiting Russia, because I know it is on her to do list.

I also heard today that my replacement engineer on Timoneer has also quit, he didn’t even make 2 months FFS !!

Lies, Captains and Engineers

It struck me today, while I was trying to hammer a chisel in between the sea chest lid and the main sea chest body, that there are lies, damn lies, and yacht lies (I replaced that last bit – it should have read ‘statistics’ as my old mucker Barrie Woolford used to say).

Normally, It’s the captains that bullshit you, like ‘Secret Love’ – ‘yeah yeah old systems but in great order – just sailed through our 20 year survey’  – FUCK OFF!  or Kimberly II – ‘I keep my staff for a long time, because I am a good captain’ – which later transpired to ‘ I am a functioning alcoholic (his words not mine), and ‘ I am unaware the vessel is a masterpiece of festering Italian engineering which is likely to completely shit itself at a moments notice even though it is only 6 years old’.

Today, I realised my first case of ‘Engineers talk bollocks too’. Never in my life have I needed to chisel the lid off of a sea chest on a vessel that is still floating. I did begin to wonder when the lid was last removed and the filter cleaned.

In all honesty, that was a mild mishap.  I also looked at the sewage treatment system today.  The outgoing engineer admitted to using so much calcium hypochlroride that the whole boat smelled like the trenches of WWI.  The captain had told me about this experience too – the whole boat being consumed by chlorine gas at noxious levels.

Imagine – the 20 litre drum would need not much more than a table spoon of powder added to it, but today when I looked at it there was around half a kilo of the stuff still in the bottom of the drum.  I was amazed, I chuckled to myself, and also wondered how the old engineer had managed to mix this stuff, breathe in the fumes and still be alive to tell the tale.

Don’t even get me started on the two bilge pumps in the forepeak – both completely wanked out!  Now, here’s the fun part – when I asked if the boat was in good order before I joined, I was told ‘Yes!’.  I was even told that all of the pumps had been serviced too.  That is, until i noticed a leak on the toilet flush pump and asked why it was leaking. Of course that was ‘the only pump’ that he hadn’t got around to servicing yet.

Realistically though – am I bothered ???

No.  Salary in US dollars at a time when the euro is dodgy, a bunk longer than anything I have ever slept in before – and for a lanky twat, that is important, enough storage space for my dive gear and my new super lush mountain bike and on top of all of that, there is room too for a surf board if I do so please. Here’s the important bit – a captain that wants me to get on and deal with the engineering, he wants nothing to do with it so long as everything works.  I have my own credit card to buy shit with and a phone that the boat pays for so I am about as happy as a big filthy fat pig in a pile of freshy laid cow shit – I kid you not!

My biggest concern with going back to work was the fact that work may consume my life and I would not have the chance to exercise any more.  Ha!, well, it’s just not the case.  I still have the exact same exercise regime now as I did when I was ashore.  This clearly has to be good for my ability to return as lean as Willem Dafoe.

So impressed am I with all things good at the moment that on Thursday, I intend to push my long distance run out to 7 miles or maybe  a little more – time will tell.

And if that hasn’t pissed you all off – I am sitting here writing with a glass of chilled red wine that the boat has provided too.

As my sister has said on many many occasions ‘Wayne could fall into shit and come out smelling of roses!’

Shitty Roses

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