Captain Pigheart Lost at Sea


Gaaargh. Twas a dark stormy night, two men sat upon the waves. Not lit’rally like, we did but sit in a boat.

Little Bo Pete and meself had been cast adrift by that treacherous swine, whose name be like a stinking tobacco-soaked hairball I cannot bring meself to retch forth afore ye good folks. The mere though of ‘is name brings me ter convulse with rage. Aye, last time I thought it I near tore meself a new orifice. Gaargh. I begins to rant – ‘tis a tale for another time.

For now ye must know that me loyal crew an’ I, that is meself an’ Little Bo Pete, we’d been cut loose in the spare dinghy at the mercy of Madame Mer. I ne’er saw me good ship Lollipop again. Gaaargh. But I did see that traitor scum one final time – yahar!

We drifted lonesome upon the open sea. ‘Twas gentle with us at first and we passed the time with ye game of ‘Eye Spy’, ‘til Pete grew maddened and violent.

Y’see, ye no bein’ sailors ye prob’ly think that bein’ ‘pon the seas there be no shortage o’ water. And ye be not wrong, but ye may not have heard ye ancient sailor’s plaint, ‘water water everywhere, but gaaargh, there be not a drop to drink’. Young Pete’d no more knowin’ of the sea than a sheep tossed off a cliff.

We got frightful thirsty, an’ for a laugh, I bet Pete that he’d die within a day if he drank of the sea. Being’ a gamblin’ man (which had led ‘im to me crew from ‘is promisin’ Oxford schoolin’), he upped the stakes, reckonin’ on two days o’ sanity before ‘im. An inveterate gambler, I could not dissuade him from his course, the fool. I meself drank only at night, while Pete slept, from the pigskin I always have strapped to me good leg in case of suchlike occurrences.

By the fourth day we was blistered red, or rather Pete were lobstered since ‘e’d left ‘is bonnet upon the Lollipop. I had me fine captain’s crown with its broad, shady brim, which I’d borrowed from the noble Admiral Kneehorn some months before.

By noon that day I adjudged that Pete had won the bet indeed, for he lived still, though he were reduced to the level of the beasts. Gaargh, for the brine’d made ‘im frothy ‘bout the lips as he hollered his nonsense at the gulls. ‘Is ‘igh education came through ‘is madness as ’e explained ter me the jommetry of Euclid and waxed lunatic Shakespearean speeches at the fishies. Gaargh. He was becomin’ a pain to me ears so I clubbed ‘im with me peg leg and got a few hours o’ peace.

As ‘e slept a’twitchin’ the sea began to seethe about us, an’ I caught glimpses of a vast beast flashin’ round and round the boat. Its scaly humps pierced the waves and sank out o’ sight again and again. I must confess ter bein’ somewhat afeard, for the Baltic Straits into which we’d veered have many tales o’ terror about ‘em.

Arrrr! A great tail rose up out o’ the water, studded wi’ spikes like the great pointy spikes of a Caribbean Sea-Mongoose. It dripped salt water upon us for a mo’, and then fell and smashed the dinghy in ‘twain. Bo Pete an’ I was tossed into the sea, naked to the beast circlin’ below. I clung to a plank like a desperate limpet, Pete danglin’ from me shoulder as I slapped him to wake.

The creature reared up before us, revealin’ its brilliant green an’ crimson crest an’ blazin’ eyes with evil feline pupils. Its nostrils were agape wi’ rage and ‘is jaws open to show two dozen rows o’ teeth the size of cutlasses wielded by a Prussian giant. Gaargh! ‘Twere terrible! Me guts turned to dribblin’ jelly and me face were numb with fear.

Not so poor brave, brine-berserk Little Bo Pete. ‘E lashed out at the brute, splashin’ water int’ its demon eyes. The beastie struck at ‘im, engulfin’ Pete with ‘is fearsome maw. Poor Pete – the monster vanished undersea with ‘im, leavin’ me floating cold and alone.

Stunned I was but a moment later (though it felt a lifetime), the beast’s head appeared again, gazin’ at me, its mouth a-bubblin’ wrathful-like. Its jaws slowly opened – prised apart by Pete, who stood upright, a-bracin’ its gob as ‘e stood proud on the brute’s gums. For a moment I though ‘im victorious, and made as if to cheer… an’ then there were a sickenin’ crack, the likes of which I never wish to hear from me own bones, as the beast bit down. Gaaargh.

Now, through some quirk or other – per’aps it were great Neptune ‘imself, seekin’ to lay blessin’ upon an honest pirate – it seemed Pete’s floppin’ corpse ‘ad somehow become lodged an’ the creature could no more close its mouth than I can snap the fingers o’ me left hand. I wasted no time and courageously plunged me plank into its gills and hauled meself astride the beast. Gaaargh. With the wood on me right and me hook in ‘is eye, I turned the beast toward land and urged it onwards.

Whenever I’m adrift on the open sea, followin’ some mutiny or other I often wish I ‘ad Little Bo Pete fer comp’ny. No doubt he be somewhere ‘pon the ocean-wide, a grisly portcullis to the Baltic Beast’s belly. A scholar and a gentleman – I drinks to ye.

Captain Pigheart’s Mermaid Adventure

Gaargh, me britches’re stained with the love juice of an impudent mermaid. ‘Twas but four moons ago. We were sailin’ North beyond the dire straits, escapin’ from the British and their monkey-long reach. Aargh. ‘Twas night and the waves were murky, slappin’ the ship like an idle seaman.

There was but me an’ No-Hands Mick ‘pon the deck, swiggin’ the last of Admiral Kneehorn’s finest malt whiskey. I were about to toss the bottle overboard when we heard a sound. A chillin’ sound, of the sort you never wants to hear, the sort so terrifying it makes yer blood freeze and yer eyes pop out on icicles. Gaargh. Old Mick knew it right away – ‘twas the call of a young, and fertile mermaid.

We peered over the side and there, stranded on a tiny reef were a buxom merwench, wailing for gentlemanly assistance. Bein’ gentles what we are, we leaped to her aid. I jumped off the bows and missed the blessed reef. ‘Tis good that I did, for Mick did not and he broke both his legs, for the deck was high up, and the rocks down low. Gaargh, ‘twas my lucky night. The young merlass seemed surprised by Mick’s wailin’, so I swam to her and began a soft croonin’ to soothe ‘er, like so. Now this she liked, I tells ya, and she turned ‘er beauty upon me.

Me black heart nearly broke through me ribs ter reach ‘er first. Glad I was of the padlock on me ribcage, firmly affixed there not nine years before by the king of Tarsus, a fine, but somewhat jealous fellow with his wives – but that’s a tale for another time.

Ah, she were radiant fair, her long hair silver by the moonlight, her arms draped shyly over her bounteous bosoms. Aye, and the most splendidly scaled tail I ever did lay eyes upon, my own or another’s. ‘Er tail swished seductive-like, splashing poor Mick with salty water. ‘Twas love at first sight. She flopped towards me, ‘er fishy nethers draggin’ ‘cross the reef, and I to her, my arms in welcome, and me britches at half-mast. Aye, an’ she was an enthusiast for the old sea-dogs I tell ye, she were fine, an’ fishy.

We lay together in the pale moonlight till ‘twas nearly dawn and old Mick had finally passed out from the pain. I saw she meant to leave me, and I knew I could not but let her go. For that’s the way of the ocean. Me heart sank as she dived beneath the waves, ‘er saucy tail flapping away.

I followed her with me eyes, well- me eye, and at the very edge of me sight she turned and tossed ‘erself out the water an’ the rising sun caught her all up the scales an’ she glowed like a big golden fish – and then she were gone. I dragged No Hands Mick back onto the ship and we went on our way.

On a quiet, moony night I fancy I can catch a whiff of that fine mackerel scent in me nostrils and can almost feel her cold, slippery fins about me thighs. Gaarrgh, ‘tis hard to bring meself to wash these britches – ‘tis all I have left. She was half fish, but all woman.

Captain Pigheart’s Chelonian Adventure

Gaargh, an’ welcome back me hearties, tis kind of ye parson to invite such a roguish fellow as I to be speakin to ye fine young mites all done up in yer Sunday bests. It be many moons since last I came to an ‘ouse of the lord on ‘is ‘Oly day. tis not that I have no faith young laddie, tis more the exclusion order slapped upon yon pirate pal before ye, by a fine magistrate named ‘Bedfellow’ upon whom I have since been revenged. Yaaargh, the fellow’ll be spendin’ time a-bed no more. Apologies father, I’ll get to ye point.

Me lads an’ I’d been sailin’ through a miserable and brutish fog for many days. There were little wind so we had naught to do but play hangman with ye prisoners seized durin’ our last exploit on the mysterious isle of Ibiza. Yarr, as’t turned out they spoke mainly Spanish and could no more spell ‘yard-arm’ than they could wriggle from out their nooses. After that time dragged slower than me tortoise mascot, Neville.

‘An yet, one day the foggy thinned and me lookout cried ‘Land! Land ho!’ Gaaargh, ‘twas well to see a shoreline once more, even one so alien to us as this ‘un. We’d travelled many days a-fogged and so we ‘ad not the foggiest as to our present location. We drew in close enough to land for anchor and I led the beach party made up of my best crew. I took Mick o’ course, Barry (called Sharon by night), Kanagawa – an exotic fellow from the far East, an’ me first mate, Billy No Mates.

The lads rowed us to shore. On the way we saw the curious symmertry o’ th’ island, but ‘twas fresh water and provisions we sought, and perchance treasure, so we noted it not.

Kanagawa led us in some devilish Eastern exercise which stretched parts I’d never wanted to know I ‘ad. Barry an’ Mick trapped some o’ the birds what nested upon the island. Billy went a-wanderin’ in search o’ some vegetables, for that’s ‘is nature. I detached me spare parts and gave ‘em a rinse in the freshwater pools from which we filled our barrels.

Afore we headed back to ye ship Cack-Handed Mick started up a fire for the roastin’ o’ some dinghy-snack. An’ that were what proved our undoin’. Where sometimes we’ve ‘ad whole herds o’ native loons come spear-ready at us, we had none o’ it, bar the sudden shaking o’ the ground at our feet.

Mightily afeard we leaped into the dinghy and rowed like madmen for the ship. Once upon deck we leaned out to see the queer isle as it rolled over in the ocean to be replaced in our sight by a pair o’ huge flippers and a giant, fearsomely gaping physog. Ye could feel the varmint lookin’ at ye, much as ye’d regard a bacon butty after a month at sea eatin’ Mick’s weevil stew. With but a few mighty strokes the kraken-like fiend did embrace the Lollipop with ‘is beaky jaws. There were much screamin’, and then ‘twas all dark.

The first clue that we were not yet dead was the remarkable stench violatin’ our nostrils. Second were the screamin’ issuin’ forth from me wretched crew. Once Billy’d the torches lit and the lamps a-burnin’, we realised what had truly befallen us, and I think Kanagawa spoke for us all when he said “we’re all going to die”. The crew put forth that we’d been swallered by a whale or somesuch hogwash. But it seemed to me that the beast was neither whale nor fish but rather some gigantic relation to my dear tortoise Neville, perched atop me shoulder, where I’d nailed ‘im fer safety.

Its turtlin’ qualities accounted for the island’s roundness and o’ course the Large Pan-Atlantic Terrapin swallows its prey whole with a hunger rivalled only by Billy’s piteous need for a friend. I owes me knowin’ o’ turtles to one drunk afternoon on the poop-deck with Neville, a spyglass and curious state o’ mind. And so I laid out me fishy knowledge to me quailin’ crew and of our likely fate – bein’ slowly digested over several years, lest we starve or be drowned by a thirsty turtle. ‘Twas not promisin’.

Gaaargh. To be honest I think Kanagawa just snapped… he commandeered me dinghy and rowed vigorously o’er the beast’s bumpy tongue – sadly towards the belly not the beak. We thought him doomed till an eddy twisted the dinghy, jammin’ Kanagawa sidelong into the turtle’s gullet. Then the tongue began to buck beneath us, tossin’ the Lollipop to an’ fro like a pickled walnut in a preservin’ jar rollin’ about ye table. Gaargh, then ‘twere messy as the turtle choked further on the dinghy and its spasms rammed the mast o’ the Lollipop into the roof of its vast mouth.

We dangled there for a moment like a child’s mobile. It throat spasmed again, then, with a veritable geyser of regurgitation we were spewed out onto the sea. We fairly skipped across the waves till we came to a stop, turtle-puke drippin’ from the sails and every man jack of us. ‘Twas a moment afore the dinghy, Kanagawa heroic at the helm, followed us in a vomitous arc, right into a feedin’ frenzy o’ sharks. I’d see him feed such fishies as these afore, as curator o’ the Japanese Fish Palace, though normally with a stick. The giant Trans-Atlantic Terrapin sank out o’ sight as queasy as a sober man seein’ Barry in’s womanly guise.

Gaargh, we scrubbed the decks an’ the riggin’ till we hit upon land once more. After so close an escape as this I found meself turnin’ to God. I thought to find meself a priest and confess me sins, lest a greater tragedy befall us sooner. I’d but lightly touched upon me incarceration and transport in the belly of a giant sea creature (an’ the epiphany I’d suffered upon me escape) when I were struck an’ hounded out the church by a horde o’ crazed Catholics denouncin’ me blasphemy. ‘T think I once thought of takin’ the cloth… which we did later, there bein’ quite a market in the colonies.

I were chased to the Lollipop where we were assailed wi’ torches and the flame o’ their passion. Turned out that the turtle’s chunder had proofed me whole vessel ‘gainst their fiery outrage. Though not me first mate, Billy who was afire until some kindly comrade shoved him overboard; I’d’ve helped him meself, but he’s not me mate. Somewhat put out by this, the locals bade us come ashore for a more personal burnin’ at ye stake. We politely declined and pounded their church wi’ cannon as we took our leave.

Yaargh, ‘twas in the very next port that ye legal papers came through. Though by then we’d earned it, what with our brief stay at the nunnery on the Isle of Letch; arr, they were lonely souls, even Billy almost found a friend upon that bleak rock.

Still, it has been a pleasure to join ye Sunday school today. Would there be any questions for ye Cap’n children?

Captain Pigheart’s Birthday Party

Yarr, ‘twas the maiden voyage of me new ship, ‘The Grim Bastard’. I were right proud of ‘er, she bein’ an upright sea-farin’ wench wi’ extra cannon and sail fer when we hunts down that treacherous filth-spattered barnacle-suckin’ knave whose name be spat upon even by the Isle of Letch’s most elderly nuns, and they coughs up a good ‘un.

We were half-crossed th’ Atlantic, transportin’ legitimate cargo from the heart o’ India. Ye see we be not always brutishly piratical. When there’s greater profit to be had in commerce, why, we just switches flags on ‘em. Now that works a treat if ye’re wantin’ to sucker the navy, p’raps Admiral Kneehorn – he always falls for a white flag.

Gaargh, as ‘twas we’d bartered with the savages, an entire rubber crop in return for not puttin’ fire to their village. ‘Twas a most favourable deal, and we’d the foresight to take out some insurance lest the heathens be thinkin’ it be not such a fine deal. We kept ‘em in the hold on water and biscuits. Clearly ‘twas better food than their native fare, for they were often sickenin’.

One mornin’ I awoke late, which I ascribes havin’ somewhat hammered ye rum whilst discoursin’ at length with Stone Cold Steve in ‘is Crow’s Nest. Havin’ demonstrated a perilous fondness for the bottle, we’d chained ‘im to the mast. Our plan were to cure ‘im with sobriety. ‘Twas not a mutual agreement mind, but I does need a clear pair o’ eyes on ship.

I came onto deck to a chorus of ‘For He’s A Dastardly Rascal’ from me beloved crew – from the buntin’ I realised it were me birthday once more. Arr, it fair brought a tear t’ me eye. Billy No Mates an’ No Hands Mick’d planned a day o’ drinkin’, feastin’ and diverse entertainments. We began wi’ a few tots o’ rum to see us through till noon, an’ brought the heathens on deck to join ye festivities. Their high spirits at the sight o’ the sun after so many weeks brought joy to our hearts and their caperin’ were a marvel, considerin’ the manacles ‘bout their ankles. ‘Twas only later, after the third barrel that our minds turned to darker pleasures.

I were provided with birthday treasures by the lads. Billy gave me a varnished squid containin’ some liqueur tastin’ o’ rancid seaweed. ‘Tis no wonder he has no friends, had we been on land I’d ‘ave sent ‘im home wi’ no cake. ‘Twas all rubbish, but since there be no gift shop aboard ‘tis the thought that counts.

An’ then I were startled somewhat by a loud thunk and the familiar rasp of a body dragged ‘cross the caulking, but ‘twas only Barry the Man-Girl haulin’ a wrapped thing from ‘is cabin. Mentally I prepared meself for smilin’ politely, like when ‘e procured for me the services of his night-time self, Sharon. I leaves that t’ the crew, though Mick were grateful for the voucher. I need not’ve worried – the lads’d been industrious, carvin’ me a rubber woman to while away the long hours in me hammock.

It shames me to say it, but I were delighted. ‘Twas wondrous, right down to the toes (four on one foot, seven on t’other), an’ she were a snug fit in me arms. An’ pliable, like a body left too long in salt water. She were a fine consort for a civilised pirate like meself – there were even a holder for me mug and pipe. I named ‘er India an’ proceeded to try ‘er out, to the audible horror of the heathens.

I’m no fan o’ screamin’ savages and proposed a party game. In no time at all we ‘ad ‘em bobbin’ ‘mongst the waves, temptin’ ye sharks with their flailin’ limbs. My, how we chuckled.

There were a sudden cheer as one o’ the savages vanished underwater. But when the others swiftly disappeared too, the chains left a-danglin’, we knew not what to think. Lookin’ back now, it seems likely that we brought it all upon ourselves, with all the birthday excitement.

With the fishin’ finished we quaffed away, and then Stone Cold Steve were heard to bellow unintelligibly from the Crow’s Nest. We merely drank some more an’ mocked ‘is teetotal lunacy. Next we knew there were a monstrous tentacle lashin’ the deck, its suckers all puckered up for some fatal kiss. An’ that were only the first – afore we could hack it wi’ our cutlass and dagger there were seven more assailin’ the Grim Bastard an’ her noble crew.

The monster octopus took hold of the vessel and hauled its body half-out the water. Its horrible beak snapped hungrily as it tossed seamen from the ship and squashed me lads in its slimy coils. tugged me men free from their refuges. Gaargh, those of us still aboard an’ not unconscious with drink were tucked down to avoid them terrible suckers – I saw a man have ‘is face sucked clean off.

Its hideous bulbous noggin hung off the bow with a saucery eye ‘pon ye brave captain. Mick’n me were back to back, me slashin’ at a tentacle while he beat ‘is stumps upon it. ‘Twas not an effective stratagem. The thing’d wrapped half its arms round the main mast, inchin’ closer to poor tethered Steve an’ pullin’ us over and all. ‘Twas then I felt the first drop of rain an’ heard thunder rumble towards us.

As the sky darkened, signifyin’ doom for us all, the octobrute waggled the mast back an’ forth, jerkin’ Steve lasso-like at the length of ‘is chain. Then ‘twas miraculous: the clouds farted and struck ‘im with a vast bolt of lightnin’. The power of the heavens passed through ‘im, the mast, and into that psychotic cephalopod.

The lightnin’ lit up the big bugger like a Chinese lantern an’ it collapsed in a stinkin’, steamin’ heap on the deck, pissin’ ink over me ship. Poor Steve were crispy too o’course, it seems he’d finally dried out. I kept expectin’ to be shocked meself, but the lightnin’ were done an’ the storm withdrew.

Standin’ on our rubbery cargo’d saved us all from the storm’s spark, well, them as ‘ad not been eaten, crushed or otherwise passed on. Sadly the rubber’d melted and with it our fortune.

There seemed but two courses of action before us: either return to India an’ re-negotiate via the medium o’ cannon fire, or chop and preserve the manky mollusc for the expandin’ New World tapas market. Before makin’ a decision we ‘ad a few more drinks an’ took turns on me now slightly deformed India. Gaargh, ‘twas a fine birthday.

Now me lad, are ye ready to blow out ye candles? Be not forgettin’ to make a wish.

Captain Pigheart’s Romantical Adventure

Gaaargh, an’ welcome sir and madam. Cap’n Ignatius Pigheart at ye service. Perhaps I might while away this moment of tedium for ye with me tales o’ derrin’-do and bedevilment ‘pon the high seas?

Me father passed on ‘is astro-navigational skills (the art o’ knowin’ where ye be goin’ by the guidance o’ the starry night) which’d been faithfully passed down me forefathers. It seems me grandfather’s father were taught by an idiot who could no more read an astrolabe than juggle ‘is own balls.

Twas no wonder therefore that we were lost once more, the Lollipop bumpin’ ‘gainst the rickety jetty o’ some nameless island. Yarr. We’d been voyagin’ to me treasure cache for the much needed payment o’ me crew. Sadly what with me map-readin’ all askew an’ all we’d been forced to circle whilst I awaited the conception o’ some excuse in me noggin.

I summoned the crew an’ explained to ‘em all that through some act or other o’ God’s will, the island ‘ad tragically sunk beneath the waves as penance for our wicked ways. There were dark mutterin’ but after I made promise o’ future riches an’ more rum per crewman than their livers’d stand all was well once more. I’d never been more grateful for stockin’ the bulk o’ me crew from the educational shallows o’ the port-side slums.

Gaargh, I must confess that night I were at me lowest ebb, the Lollipop an me wallowin’ in self-pity. The town were deserted an’ yet I heard the slappin’ o’ bare feet and the rattlin’ o’ the timbers. Down I looked an’ saw a vision o’ beauty. Arr, she were a proper English rose, starin’ up at me all beseechin’ like, ‘er clothes in rags and hair a-straggled.

I bellowed for me sawbones, Herr Doktor Gunther Garment, an’ together we hauled her aboard. The good doctor declared “she ist helsy but I could be plonking ze xylophone of her ribcage”, prescribin’ ‘er “fur effery day ein Zitronelle und zwei rumtotten” in ‘is thick Teutonic tongue. Monty’d been makin’ lemonade so twas not long afore she could stomach any number o’ such medicinals.

Gentleman what I be, I beat back the crew an’ escorted ‘er ter me cabin for a scrub and brush up. I sought out Barry in search of claddin’ more befittin’ a lady than me second-best britches. I found ‘im struttin’ an’ displayin’ ‘is womanly assets; I distracted ‘im with a pinch on the rear and borrowed a frock.

Aarr, we discoursed on small matters through a screen which near protected ‘er modesty till she pronounced ‘erself clean. That be a relative matter on a pirate ship. Compared t’ Monty McBuboe the galley-master, she were a paragon o’ purity. I can count ‘pon me fingers the times I’ve fished a digit o’Buboe’s from me stew, which is more than he can do himself, the poor leprous wretch. An’ then she gave me ‘er name, Roberta-Clementine. As she spoke I felt the words etch ‘emselves into the flesh o’ me black, yet tender heart.

Later I brought her up on deck to meet the lads an’ tell how she’d come to be stranded on that bleak and lonely isle. Gaargh, I had to contend with Barry glarin’ daggers at me throughout, though I made clear she’d not be crampin’ his style. They later spent many happy hours braidin’ one another’s hair. Roberta’s sad tale made our hearts bleed and rile our tempers.

She’d been kidnapped by Admiral Kneehorn’s tax-collectin’ scum on pretence o’ some quiddity or other. The knave’d taken her to his flagship, the Flamboyant and allowed her to be put to caulking the deck an’ filin’ their bunions ‘mongst other distasteful labours. At last they stopped off at this same island, and seein’ ‘er chance she’d leaped o’erboard in hopes of rescue.

Though her heart had sunk at sight o’ our pirate colours and me boisterous crew she’d wagered on the likelihood o’ so fine a ship as the Lollipop havin’ an ‘andsome captain blessed with kindness and honour. Aarr, ‘tis an easy thing t’ stoke a bachelor’s pride. Twas not for nothin’ that I were known throughout the port-side taverns as Captain Loveheart, what with me strong three limbs and the sight of slightly more than one eye. Aye, it surprised me only a mite when she sought out me gentle embrace, once I’d propped me hook on its stand.

Gaargh, there were a passionate bloomin’ o’ the love betwixt us. Twas like a summer storm, hot and wet. Whippin’ away me doubts she made me a stronger, merrier fellow than I’d thought possible. An’ when she asked me to help avenge herself ‘pon her tormentors, I leapt at the chance to prove me feelin’s true. Naturally the opportunity to strike back at the despicable Kneehorn were a treat for any pirate. The crew’d grown to love her also and bristled at remembrance o’ the injustices wrought upon her and soon were bristlin’ with cutlass and pistol.

We snuck upon ‘em in dawn’s early light. The Lollipop slid ‘tween the flagship an’ its sole companion, the Endurance, as they rocked at anchor. Gaargh, th’Endurance proved poorly named as we sank ‘er with but one brutal volley o’ cannonballs, sendin’ the admiral’s men to the ocean floor still in their bedsocks.

Our attack were as pronged as Poseidon’s trident. That be three for ye non-mariners. As the Endurance endured her last we were swingin’ aboard Admiral Kneehorn’s mighty Flamboyant. Aaar, we were a-drool with bloodlust as we leapt into massacrin’ the likes of which only seal cubs’ve ever seen. I’d a cutlass in me teeth an’ pistol in me mitt. By me side were me beloved Roberta-Clementine, decked out in ‘er piratical wench-wear, powder blowin’ an’ sword slashin’. We fought back to back, snatchin’ kisses between the guttin’ and blackenin’ of our foes.

The battle won we stuffed the Lollipop t’the gills with the Flamboyant’s gildin’ an’ ‘er booty. The brave Admiral were found hiding in a barrel o’ salted and pickled herring. Not wantin’ to incur the full wrath of the British navy we ‘ad some fun, but held back from outright killin’. We stripped the man and keelhauled ‘im thrice afore nailin’ im’ back into the pickle barrel. Gaaargh, he squealed like a man blistered and salted might. I took his hat as me right, and cursed him for a pustulent carbuncle on the face o’common decency and pitied ‘is mother for gobbin’ up such ignoble spawn.

We cut a merry caper on the loaded decks of the Lollipop that night. We divvied our takin’s between the crew and when we’d done, I asked Roberta if she’d take me hand in marriage. Me heart thundered in me chest an’ I near fainted away when she cried ‘aye’ with teary eyes. The last I recall o’ the night were the good Doktor performin’ some obscene Germanic jig with Sharon after splashin’ out his moonshine. I believe we all shone bright indeed and none more so than me beautiful Roberta-Clementine.

The next I knew was the sun bright on me face and timber at me back. Gaargh, the sky tossed about me when I tried standin’. Before me were the Lollipop and surmountin’ it the unwelcome sight o’ Admiral Kneehorn, his arm about me betrothed, lookin’ like the cat what caught the parrot, only somewhat more sore. Me ship were crawlin’ with the Admiral’s men, though not from his best ships, their guns to the heads o’ me hungover crew. Yarrr, the smug deceit were ‘scribed ‘pon their faces. I could scarce ask why, but that pus-filled canker could not hold back. I’d been tricked from the start – Roberta were the fiend’s own sister, the strandin’ a devious ploy.

I swore vengeance and wished me crew well for none of ‘em deserved to swing for this treachery. And yet, as I were cast adrift I caught the eye of me bride-to-be an’ saw the glint of tears rollin’ down her sweet cheeks. Me heart were torn asunder and I had to turn away to hide the tears dribblin’ in me beard. I fell back in me dinghy, floatin’ helpless on the seas.

Twas days of blisterin’ and bakin’ later when I surrendered to me hallucinations. I were tea-partyin’ with me marine pals when I glimpsed me Lollipop’s sails once more. I giggled an’ near split me tea on Mr JellyMcFish before they drew alongside and hauled me aboard.

Roberta-Clementine had rebelled ‘gainst her tyrant brother, led mutiny on the soldiers and returned to her husband-to-be. With me crew and our well-earned plunder we sailed off into the sunset together. Well, twas more like the dawn but I likes to paint ye a pretty picture.

Aaarr! Thankin ye’ sir ye be a-right in ye sharp rebuke. Twas perhaps an overlong gazin’ at ye lady-wife’s fine plumage.

Might there still be a tip perchance? Ah well, where would ye like ye luggage?

Captain Pigheart All Washed Up

Gaargh, I were tossed off into the surf by me slippery serpentine steed. I took me timber to the brute, but half-hearted like, since Little Bo Pete stoppered its gob still. With the devil’s own glare it buggered off out to sea, leavin’ me chunderin’ brine onto foreign sands till I passed out from retchin’.

I awoke, with me beard crusty, to the sound o’ folk scrunchin’ along the beach, jabberin’ in an aggravatin’ sing-song. I concluded they were simple folk but as they seemed eager t’offer me shelter and sustenance I withheld me urge to slap ‘em. I explained me circumstances, bein’ unjustly cast adrift an’ of me heroic wranglin’ o’ the sea beastie. ‘Tis possible me stained garb lessened the effect somewhat, for they presented me with a tufty nether-wig. At the time I knew not what it were, an’ explained I’d no need of a pet. Aarr, it took a number o’ explainin’s t’impress its purpose an’ their profession upon me before I accepted their gift. Gaargh, a drink would’ve been more welcomin’, though it were handy for layin’ down me head.

I were overjoyed to learn them yokels lived on the fringes of the port-town o’ Merkin, called after its peculiar trade; yarr, it might be t’other way about: I cared too little t’enquire. I’d lost me ship an’ crew to that scabrous syphilitic scallywag (which I’ll not go into on account o’ the pulsin’ in me eyeballs an’ me spittlin’ tendency when enraged), so me desires in town were simple: loose women and a bottle o’ rum to take me troubles from me.

I’d no interest in the weavin’ o’ twat-thatches and sought out the bands o’ vagabonds what lurked in the darker twists o’ Merkin’s alleys. Aarr, I’ve dragged me finest crewmen from such hovels an’ let ‘em wake ten leagues out to sea. The local vice were goin’ twos a-tootin’ on the poppy-pipe. Yarr, its blissful oblivion were a fine alternative t’ knittin’ furry codpieces an’ I settled in it easy-like. Twas a happy time, though I confess me memory of it be none too clear.

Yaarr, all was well till I stood up one day after a good night’s stupefyin’ an’ fell flat upon me face. Twas not an unusual start, but on this occasion twas the fault of havin’ but one foot! I’d a tortoise tied about me arm implyin’ some form o’ trade. I were not pleased, though ‘tis possible I’d consented in me befuddled state. In a wrathful mood I hopped off after me foot, pocketin’ me tortoise for a future snack.

I went straight to me good friend Umberto Phlapjaquet, head o’ the merkin-makers guild. He were distressed to see me truncatered so, an’ agreed that a tortoise were improper barter for me foot. The local noble man, the Duke de Mons-Plumage were a man o’ strange an’ unhealthy tastes afeard for ‘is deviancy an’ the abuse of ‘is peasantry. Umberto reckoned ‘is Grace’d be the likely culprit, an’ for cover, charged me with the delivery of a cleft-carpet he’d been commissioned to weave.

The Duke’s manor were a sight to make ye eyes sore. The gates were lined with rows o’ giant porcelain flamingos an’ the hedges carved into rutting beasts. Twere quite an unsettlin’ stroll. I’d constructed, with Umberto’s aid, a cunnin’ facsimile o’ me lower leg out of a wadin’ bird strapped to a goblet which gave me a passable lollopin’ stride.

I were swiftly ushered into the Duke’s private rooms. Arr, the in were worse than out- awash with a décor that’d shame a cut-price Bangkok brothel. ‘Is chamber were strewn with tapestries o’ vile an unnatural acts between man an’ beast; even Barry’d’ve feld a-shriekin’.

The Duke bade me sit and drink ‘is third-finest wine, so thrilled he were at the delivery. ‘E were a runty fellow with squinty eyes and a lascivious countenance. Twas as he filled me glass that I noted the object upon ‘is desk: a freshly severed and upturned foot, its toes curled about an ivory ashtray. I held back me vengeance on account o’ the disconcertin’ly pretty yet burly and well-oiled guards. The Duke took a pleasure in stubbin’ ‘is cigar out on me big toe and commentin’ upon his fortune in acquirin’ such a rare article. I smiled with clenched teeth and murmured such pleasantries as I could muster.

Graspin’ ‘is groin he abruptly demanded a fittin’, chasin’ his guards out the room. Umberto’d not mentioned such duties, but I swallered a shudder and unwrapped the package. ‘Twere a gilded merkin, of gold an’ silver filigree, dotted with emeralds an’ rubies: quite the most hideous object I e’er laid me eyes upon.

When I turned about the Duke were facin’ me naked, but for his boots, with a leer upon ‘is lips. I gingerly reached to hang the genital garland as best I could. As he admired ‘imself in the long mirrors I took me chance. Seizin’ me foot I clubbed the vain dolt clean across ‘is skull with it. I booted ‘is bloody crown for good measure an’ peeled me eye for an exit. ‘Twould have been smarter to plan me escape first, but me leglessness’d made me tetchy.

In the mirror I caught sight of Mons-Plumage’s galleon that Umberto’d once mentioned, bobbin’ in the waves. I ‘opped out the window, foot in hand. I’d barely scuffed the path afore a cry went up and soldiers flooded the grounds. Their oiliness made ‘em slip about somewhat, allowin’ time to arm meself. I strung me tortoise and whirled ‘im over me head. As the first guards came about the corner I let slip and knocked ‘em out cold. With me reptile flail I escaped and hobbled toward the pier.

I were almost there when the Duke’s men cut me off. Arr she were a gorgeous craft, but for the name ‘The Sirrup of the Seas’, which I’d be not long in changin’. The soldier’s menaced me with their swords an’ suggestive winks an’ I bethought this might be me end. It seemed likely I’d slain the perverted Duke an’ that these’d seek revenge upon me.

There came a bold shout an’ shots rang out, fellin’ the guards. I stood amazed when I were hailed by a friendly tone – ‘twere Umberto with me opiated pals come to the rescue. Apparently in me poppy-fogginess I’d waxed lyrical about the joys o’ piracy and a life at sea an’ somewhat inspired ‘em. We overpowered the rest o’ the soldiery and boarded the Sirrup.

They were learnin’ their way about a ship when I espied a glint of grotesquerie shamblin’ down the jetty. It could only be that ugly loin-drapery, hung about the near-naked Duke. I were displeased by ‘is liberties with me limbs an’ in no mood for swappin’ innuendo, so I shot ‘im in the eye with’s own musket. As he toppled, ‘is merkin snagged upon a nail, strippin’ the man’s plumage and leavin’ ‘im obscenely splayed in the sun. Full cheered by this, I proposed a lootin’ of the mansion with shares for all. Gaargh, I lost near half me men in returnin’ to the estate. The Duke had furious concubines and no end o’ brats were keen t’avenge ‘im.

But still, I felt free and footloose once more, with a new ship to be baptised in piratical mischief. We set off in search of that usurpin’ thief whose name I’ll not befoul me mouth with, and them crewmen o’ the Lollipop doubtless marooned by said worthless chumbucket. Arr, for I missed me former crewmates and had little doubt that I’d lose the rest of me newly drafted an’ drug-addled landlubbers on the way.

Twas only later, dozin’ on deck, that I recalled the unfortunate cannon misfirin’ upon the Lollipop that’d left me leg shorter by a foot; gaargh, a galleon for me stump-extender were a fine swap!

Captain Pigheart and the Wenchly Lad

Gaargh, ‘tis well to be seein’ ye once again, though ye be swayin’ somewhat and I were not foretold that ye’d found ye long lost twin – a drink to celebrate ye findin’ness! Aaar, me crew be abroad this night. ‘Tis sometime since we were last a-port and they be keen to spatter the town wi’ a broad palette o’ colour. Some will like as not be stayin’, possibly in pieces. But they be a fine bunch. Yarrr! Allow me to regale ye with a short tale regardin’ one o’ me more eccentric mates, o’ whom I be most fond.

Now, Barry’s be a tale most poignant, ‘is life a rival to me own for adventure and dancin’ wi’ Lady Luck. ‘E were born (as we mostly be, though I be uncertainty regardin’ Billy’s provenance), to a dotin’ mother and a drunken father. Aaarr, ‘e were a bonny child wi’ big blue eyes an’ fair wavy hair. Twere apparent from early on that ‘e ‘ad but little likeness to his father, a burly brute hairy enough to need no clothin’. The man’s suspicions finally outgrew the drink when ‘e found ‘is cuckoldery were a common jest. Gaargh, ‘e were prone to jealous rages an’ put Barry’s mother in fear o’ the lad’s life.

In what were perhaps an; ill-judged over-reaction, she stuffed the lad into a broad-brimmed bonnet an’ hurled ‘im into the river. I knows not what her precise thinkin’ were, but young Barry were swept out to sea wi’ not a soul to spot the spinnin’ tot. The luckless brat were then spotted an’ swallered by a passin’ ‘umpback whale on its yearly migratin’. The poor brute must’ve found the snack as irritatin’ to ‘is tum as findin’ one o’ Monty McBuboe’s scabs garnishin’ ye gruel, for ‘e beached ‘isself and tossed ‘is guts upon a shingled shore.

Gaargh, the babe must’ve lived ‘pon the stinkin’ gut-waters o’ the whale, till he were found by the infamous nuns o’ the Isle of Letch. Aarr, they took ‘im in as one o’ their own an’ he brought ‘im up with a deep fondness for stockin’s and showtunes. The nuns’d re-Christened ‘im a girlie in accordance wi’ their confusin’ creed. ‘Tis not clear if they ever noted ‘is masculine qualities but they certainly taught ‘im the joys of curlin’ tongs, a full wax, an’ the breeze ‘twixt ‘is knees. Sh-he left the nunnery at the age o’ sixteen to seek ‘er fortune an’ th’excitement o’ the wider world.

We’d docked the Lollipop for a fresh aft-mast in Santa de Puta, followin’ a nasty encounter with a school o’ zombified flounders; gaargh, me curse were reachin’ its horrid peak. We sought distraction of a bawdy nature while me hull were scraped clean for no extra charge. No Hands Mick an’ me wound up at the notorious Chateau d’Amour where me eye’d once been caught on a sharp hook, an’ now were captivatered by a comely young wench sashayin’ about the stage. Sharon she were called, an’ we bellowed ‘er name to show our likin’ for ‘er dancin’. We stood to cheer an’ draw her fair eye upon us, but we were drowned out by the navy braggarts what got the pleasure o’ manhandlin’ the lass instead.

Ah well, I resigned meself to the company o’ me bottle an’ set about gettin’ better acquainted. Mick strapped on ‘is patented tavern-stump-adaptin’-gauntlets for some serious drinkin’. We were nearin’ the needin’ o’ straws for further grog when there were a sudden uproar from the sailors’ table and the hasty drawin’ of pistols, ‘stead o’ pizzles, which were the usual custom.

Gaargh, ever eager t’ defend some maiden’s honour we leaped to ‘er aid, sword an’ jug-pourin’ tackle a-flailin’. We swiftly despatched the attackers an’ whisked the damsel off to me ship. ‘Twere a romantic gesture to be sure, but not without pragmaticality. I’d slayed a number o’ the Admiral’s finest dullards an’ Mick’d done batterin’ to much o’ the bar’s woodwork.

Safely aboard the Lollipop, Sharon were keen t’ thank ‘er valiant rescuers. Aarr, I bade her re-robe when I discovered ‘midst ‘er disrobin’ that ‘er corset were strappin’ down more’n expected. Mick’d no such qualms however an’ they shared a most pleasant night together. Gaargh, ‘twas just as well as I’d ‘ad sufficient rum t’inhibit me lustin’ action.

I thought upon me next course and concluded I ought to protect the young man-girll from a cruel an’ unfeelin’ world. Me only condition were a certain learnin’ o’ the nature to which he’d previously been quite ignorant. I instructed ‘im in the wearin’ o’ such manly attire as britches an’ boots. ‘E were not pleased an’ I ‘ad to agree to swap our clothin’ to persuade ‘im further. I must confess some surprise an’ agreed wi’ the lad that a skirt an’ girdle were somethin’ of a comfort, though we squabbled about the heels.

Next we sought a trade for ‘im to undertake since we’d no use for freeloaders on board. Aarrr, young Barry (‘twas the name on the brim o’ that hat) soon demonstrated such utter tyranny o’ the vittles an’ rum that twere either makin’ ‘im quartermaster or starvin’ at sea. By night, Barry be free to do as ‘e pleases an’ the sultry Sharon, Mistress with a Beard (if we be long at sea) will strut forth upon deck an’ cast a touch o’ glamour upon all our souls.

Gaargh, we’ve been fightin’ off Admiral Kneehorn ever since. An’ now, me gentles, I must totter towards the docks. I fear me liquor be seekin’ an exit. I bids ye good mornin’.

Captain Pigheart’s Accursed Christmas

Gaargh, the first snow flakes were soakin’ into the briny seas by the time I regained me beloved crew, rescuin’ most of ‘em from Kneehorn’s infamous Inhospitable Atoll. Ice caught in me beard and I got me first chillin’ sense o’ the Christmas to come.

The nearest harbour, Isla del Morbida off the coast o’ Spain happened to be Monty McBuboe’s home town. Me foul cook’d been a vagabond for years an’ were dead against a return. Arr, but I be cap’n here and we were in sore need of a port to weather the, well, the weather. The waves be less fun when ‘tis freezin’.

As we drew near the lads were full o’ Christmas cheer, already swingin’ an’ swiggin’ rum in the riggin’. Ye hamlet seemed quiet from the water, in spite o’ the festive buntin’ and lanterns. The dearth o’ folk were a mite worryin’, but the crew vanished nonetheless like rats as soon as the gangplank fell. They were scarce out o’ sight afore there were screams an’ hails o’ abuse – all seemed well.

Minutes later, the Doktor dragged a bloodied Johnny Scuttle aboard. Some dock worker’d lunged out the dark an’ taken a likin’ to Johnny’s noggin, forcin’ Gunther’d to use ‘is surgical skills defensive-like. But Scuttle were drippin’ fearfully so we left ‘em together.

Billy’n meself strolled down the bloody pier an’ found the man Gunther’d so neatly nailed up. We gave ‘im a prod an’ leaped for our hearts as ‘e gnashed ‘is gory teeth at us, in spite o’ the cold steel in ‘is heart. ‘Twere not natural, ‘im growlin’ so we put iron through the rest of ‘im. The bits jiggled still so we booted ‘em into the harbour. Barry announced it a bad omen for the season, an’ in time-honoured fashion sought to o’erturn the ill luck by paradin’ naked about the Grim Bastard. ‘Twere another good reason to see the sights, besides me chewed-up crewman.

The village were possessed of the grisly décor of a Slavic serial killer turned interior designer. The plain stucco clashed with the blood sloshed walls an’ trestle tables strewn with body bits. It seemed Christmas’d gone wrong. The terrified locals, an’ me crew were bein’ menaced in the middle o’ the square by a horde o’ ragin’, champin’ loons. Their eyes were glazed an’ their gobs a-drool, seekin’ to slake their thirst for human blood. Or so we assumed, not knowin’ the exact details, but familiar with the general principles o’ a zombie plague

A noise at me side ‘ad me spinnin’ ‘pon me peg to the sight o’ a pustulent creature lurchin’ from the shadows. ‘Twere but Monty. He dragged us into an alley where a tiny crone burst out from behind him, hissin’ in ‘er toothless way, “the curth, the curth!” Aarr, she fair scared the cockles off the lot of us; Billy pulled some groinal muscle in surprise. By the light o’ a gutterin’ candle she lisped to us their woes.

Some days before, as the town began to gird itself for Christmas a magical man arrived and amazed ‘em with ‘is conjurin’. ‘Twere all most jolly till the magician turned the Mayor’s daughter into a mermaid, who promptly flopped about an’ died from lack o’ water. The townsfolk, bein’ of a provincial nature, knew a witch when they saw one an’ acted accordin’ly. As ‘is toes caught fire the conjuror cursed the town to a terrible death. Naturally they laughed this off an’ toasted marshmallows and the like. The next day were less cheery when some fool, on hearing a a loud bangin’ from within the crypts, opened ‘em an’ so unleashed the undead fiends. By now they were either zombified, hiding or munched upon. There were but little ‘ho ho’ here.

Me instincts were simple: gather what crew remained an’ cast off post-haste. This simple plan gave the crone some form of fit, judgin’ by the spittle an’ gurnin’. Monty on t’other hand looked somewhat sheepish as the crone flung a pendant at ‘im in a beseechin’ manner. I were about to step in, for Monty’s a mite fragile an’ I be not payin’ for more breakages.

Monty sighed an’ took the proffered pendant. As ‘e did so, an unearthly glow enveloped ‘is crumblin’ frame, an’ on ‘is head, a crown shone bright. The crone were supplicatin’ wildly; we settled for some all-purpose genuflectin’ instead. She insisted on shriekin’ “at latht you’ve returned mathter – to thave our thouls” until Billy clipped ‘er with ‘is pistol, for there were wailin’ a-plenty past the wall. Monty’d the decency to look embarrassed an’ confided that Lord Montague del Morbida were ‘is birthright. He’d fled in shame, havin’ fleeced the peasantry with holy tithes to ward off ye evil spirits; the leprosy were a sort of uniform. Arr, the poor lad blamed ‘imself and begged for me aid.

Gaargh, a new plan formed quicker’n a cloud o’ seagulls about a beached whale. We booted the crone out into the street to scream a diversion, while we ran to the cemetery atop the hill. Monty were loathe to leave ‘er, but since he’d left the whole village to the gastronomical mercies o’ the undead, one more ought to be no more gallin’.

Monty’s glow grew brighter, lightin’ up the ancient graves surmountin’ the peak. He strode amongst ‘em, mutterin’ darkly, causin’ a tomb to pop open, revealin’ a cache o’ weaponry. Monty passed to each of us a ghoulish green sword which hummed and buzzed in our ‘ands as we swung ‘em experimental–like. They cut clean through the first zombie to find us, like a spoon through oven-baked jellyfish.

That signalled our charge and we fell upon the hell spawn with our holy weapons. ‘Twere more fun than puffer-fish cricket, though twice as messy. Afore we knew it we was hackin’ into the livin’. It were clear that the village idyll were over an’ I drew Monty aside. I grasped ‘is duties an’ all, but frankly, havin’ doomed ‘is people anyway we might easily turn this tragedy into treasure. Honour and greed swapped slaps behind ‘is eyes till ‘is righteous glow faded an’ he were me larcenous an’ leprous chef once more. I passed ‘im a finger he’d dropped earlier an’ we set about findin’ the remnants o’ the crew.

Much, much later, after we’d drained the seafront of ale we tottered back aboard the Grim Bastard. Frightful bellowin’ issued from belowdecks, accompanied by a grim Germanic giggle. Aarr, we’d forgot about young Johnny Scuttle. Somethin’ hinted at this not bein’ a complete recovery. But, insulated by drink we flung back the bolts.

At first I trusted not me eyes, drunk as they was. A nightmare clambered from the dark, with Johnny’s head if not his body, for it had far too many arms, and seemed part turtle. Loomin’ into the lamplight I espied fine needlepoint what digressed into a charmin’ depiction o’ the village at sunset across the chest. The Doktor chuckled in delight, “ja, ve haf been most busy viz zis plague, es ist most interesting. See, young Johnny – ach his brain ist gone, but he has now ze four arms, just sink of ze scrubbing! Now, votch him scamper.”

Gaargh, me sternness an’ horror lost out to drunken mirth as poor Johnny scuttled about, snappin’ toothlessly like a violently senile crab. I thought it best to chain ‘im but Sharon insisted that Johnny’d be a fine pet and set about knittin’ ‘im a six-limbed romper suit for rovin’ the boat.

‘Twere an odd Christmas, though not without profit. We left the town afire behind us and totted up our gold. We sailed on into a new year o’ bright dreams an’ broken hearts.

Captain Pigheart Live!

Yaharr me hearties! Ye fine cap’n’s been conned into readin’ publicly from ‘is marvellous tales o’ the seas. There be some pub in Burton on Trent what includes the word ‘Whistle’ in its name y’see, an’ on some Wednesdays they be havin’ poetical readin’s. Aarr, ye captain be a lyrical sort o’ drunk an’ as been persuaded to turn up and tell yon poets an adventure. I’ll be findin’ out the precise name an’ time later, but should ye wish to see ye handsome pirate captain (in the slightly decayed flesh), I be in this pub on the first o’ November. It’d be grand to be bought a mug of ale.

A Pirate Nativity

Gaargh, pirates love Christmas just like all ye landlubbers, and t’ mark ye festivities the good ship Lollipop’n ‘er crew brings yer a pirativity:

Ye wise piratical folk come t’offer the lad treasure from across the seas:

Ye angel Gabriel be a-watchin’ from ye sky with ‘is twin blades o’ cheer and merrity:

The proud parents wi’ their beautiful baby boy, garrgh, ain’t ‘e cute?

Captain Pigheart’s Little Christmas Tale

Gaaargh, ’twere the night afore Christmas an’ all were all peaceful, quieter than ye mouse. O’ course ye’ve not seen the size o’ the mice on the Lollipop, gaargh, they be dwarfin’ ye cat. ‘Tis no wonder we eats ’em, else they’d be the death of us. Mind ye, what with their remarkable plague-bearin’ skills ye might consider it a kind o’ cannibalin’ on Monty McBuboe’s part.

Aaarrr, we’d moored off the island o’ Streptococcus for the festive season. ‘Twere an odd sort o’ place, renowned for its twin industries o’ whorin’ and the soothin’ o’ sore neckholes. The lads’d disembarked almost afore we’d ceased our sailin’, so keen were they to whetten their whistlin’ gob-‘oles.

And so it were left t’ me an No Hands Mick to tie off an’ weigh anchor. To that purpose I’d ‘elped Mick strap on ‘is big wooden grippin’ mitts, the ones with the big spikes for grabbin’ fishies and ye enemy. Aaar, t’ celebrate a successul year we turned ye cannons out to sea and blasted away with good cheer. The balls parted ye Christmassy mist with a satisfyin’ bang.

The bang were follered by a wailin’ what grew louder the longer it went on, ’til finally it were punctuated by a thwack an’ the sound o’ wood an’ iron grindin’ o’er me deck. There were some splinterin’ and dust, but through it we saw a most peculiar vision. ‘Twere a heap o’ horses with sticks on their ‘eads surroundin’ a portly feller dressed in red wi’ a fine, if conspicuous furry trim. ‘E were fairly bellowin’ ‘is fury at us.

I be not a fan o’ being shouted at ‘pon me own ship, so I took the lad by the beard and bounced is noggin off the mast ’til ‘e were quietened. Mick meanwhile were inspectin’ the beasts and the cart they’d pulled. ‘E were pleased to report on the high likelihood that they’d be most tasty, prob’ly even finer than giant rat in an ‘Ollandaise sauce. This seemed to upset the tubby chap further, an’ ‘e protested most vigorously ‘gainst both our culinary devisin’s an’ our blastin’ ‘im out of ye sky. We both ‘ad a bit of a chuckle about that – ’twere a grand shot and we’d be needful o’ a trophy to brag about. And then the fat lad sat us down with a finely mulled bottle o’ wine an’ filled us wi’ Christmas cheer. ‘Twere easier then to believe ‘is ravin’ o’ sailin’ through the skies, tethered to flyin’ deer. Aaarr, there were somethin’ of a fly in ‘is ointment though (we’d treated ‘is landin’ wounds mind – this be but a metaphorical describin’ o’ ‘is woes) seein’ as the reindeer’d been slain either by the cannon blast or from the sleigh bein’ slid at some speed through ’em on becomin’ grounded.

In our newly excitable state Mick an’ me were keen t’offer our aid an’ so we set t’work a-fixin’ ye sled. Mr Christmas, for that’s who ‘e’d turned out to be, occupied ‘imself with the gatherin’ o’ the children’s gifts what’d been scattered over the Lollipop. The sleigh were lookin’ finer’n ever, freshly reloaded with presents, with it’s rider slightly bandaged. Mick’d been inspired by the reindeer problem but through ‘is alcoholic haze ‘e’d latched onto the notion that ’twere the antlers what made the beasts able to soar through ye skies. If that be so, then we needed some similarly horned creatures.

Bein’ stuck in port on Christmas Eve be not conducive to the managing o’ livestock, but thankfully on a recent treasure-hunt we’d become lost once more an’ run aground. The rocky little spot were home to a breed o’ giant tortoise what we’d found delicious and versatile. Most o’ ye time they’d spend their time weightin’ down ye ship as ballast in ye hold, but come a mite o’ hunger for a special occasion, we’d hook ’em out and roast ’em in their shells. Gaargh, it just so ‘appened that Mick’d been brewing a new batch of tar for ye hull repairs. So we sawed off ye antlers an’ glued ’em to the reptiles. That warranted a few more drinks on ‘er own, an’ we were a-giggle as we popped the horned tortoises in harness.

Mr Christmas were not so impressed, as the lumpen things simply laid on deck due to the cold and retreated into their shells. ‘Twere a great disappointment to Mick, an’ I ‘ad to stop ‘im from throwin’ ‘imself overboard. It struck me that what were needed were merely a source o’ propellin’ the beasts into the sky, once up they’d prob’ly get the hang o’ it. And so it were that we arranged the cannons on deck, an’ chained each o’ the tortoises to a cannonball. We stood back an’ lit the fuses.

The little buggers flew straight up into the night air, draggin’ the sleigh behind, an’ with a “ho ho oh God we’re going to…” the whole thing exploded high up in the sky. ‘Twere awful pretty. Presents rained down on ye chimney pots far across ye island, bringin’ joy to them as what ‘ad not expected it. ‘Course there were a fair quantity o’ body bits fallin’ too, an’ the odd tortoise, but all in all, ’twere a jolly Christmas for the locals.

It seemed Santa’d been somewhat indiscriminate in ‘is pickin’ up o’ objects left on deck, like the two barrels o’ gunpowder we’d wrapped up for Billy. Gaaargh, we’d ‘ave to go out shoppin’ now, and on Christmas Eve to boot.

Gaaarrgh, have yeself a Merry Christmas!


21st Century Pirate

Gaaargh, this be an advertisin’ for me lad Sean O’Reilly an’ ‘is piratical scribin’s what ye can be findin’ an’ buyin’ by clickin’ ye electronical cursor here.
This be a tale o’ real-life piracy on ye open seas. ‘Tis a trove o’ the excitin’ adventures of Sean and his buccaneer crew as they evade ye police and cruise blithely-like into illegal waters. Scribed with a snap in ‘is pen, the absurdity o’ drug-runnin’ turns into a fast-paced account, like Carl Hiaasen in Howard Marks’ body. A pirate’s sailin’ be rarely smooth, and this lad recounts the hot water he finds ‘imself in as openly as the victories. There be splashes o’ socio-political commentary to spice up the feast what’ll have ye ravin’ against the insanity of it all and more than enough personal feelin’ to have ye rootin’ for the heroes. What with sea-beasties, suitably odd crewmen, runnin’ from the law and the joys o’ sailin’, yarr, this be a book to read on any pirate’s deck. Support the ganja-pirates, fight the man, cry ‘Yarrr!’ and buy this book!

Captain Pigheart’s Triffic Adventure

Gaargh, I awoke from a night o’ disturbin’ dreams. We’d been swiggin’ vodka for a change, since takin’ it off Danish merchants just after dawn. Me final memory o’ that night were haulin’ Billy aboard after ‘e leapt from the bow to catch a shootin’ star. Yarr, all night the sky’d been full o’ light streakin’ down as if aimin’ for the giant crabs crawlin’ across ye sea-bed. ‘Twere pretty, like a rainbow on fire, though technically it boded ill for us all.

Yarr, ‘twere worse awake than a-snooze, for me wakin’ were pierced a piteous wailin’, “I be blind, me eyes be not workin’.” A-fearful for me own senses I opened me eyes – to blackness! Me heart raced till I realised I’d moved me eye patch to keep out ye pesky sun – thank God, I were still only half blind. ‘Twere just Manky Eye Joe, ‘is peepers robbed by a surprisin’ly agile flying fish whilst mannin’ ye crow’s nest. Joe’s memory’d been nicked too, makin’ his blindness a daily surprise for us all.

The sounds o’ bangin’ on me hull drew me hangover away from Joe. The encirclin’ seas were dotted with steamin’ lumps o’ furry rock, bobbin’ malignantly on ye waves. I’d not seen their like before an’ summoned Kanagawa, for ‘is oriental eyes be witness to the marvels o’ the East. ‘Is speciality be fish, though he’s a smatterin’ o’ whelk-lore to boot. Yarr, ‘is best suggestion were some kind o’ coconut in need of a trim; so we hooked one aboard for further investigoratin’.

On deck ‘twere as if some Biblical whale’d finally retched up the rancid head o’ Jonah. Yaarr, with me strong botanicorological instincts I knew it for plant-life, though from where I knew not. ‘Tis a love of plants what keeps the pansies alive in me cabin, an’ ye scurvy at bay. I planned to pot it an’ flog ye rare blooms to the King o’ Tarsus. I’d already some namin’ in mind t’establish me immortality ‘orchidae-oceanicus-ignatius’ or ‘floricus-pighearticus’; Latin be rollin’ off me tongue like a native.

Gaaargh, mid-pottin’ the sea cabbage grew feisty, swiftly unravellin’ kelpy tentacles. It gave a vigorous spankin’ to poor Manky Eye Joe, drawin’ blood with its salty roughness. Its frenzy grew, an’ before I could tamp ‘er down, the photosynthesisin’ freak dashed up the mast. We’d not time to warn ye lookout. He wisely chose the relative safety of ye deck. Yarr, that be not the softest o’ landin’s. Once ‘is legs were splinted we pondered ye sea spud further.

The pernicious plant spread its leaves at the ship’s summit. The cheeky sod were wormin’ its roots down me mast an’ through me hull. We cut short that intent, to much thrashin’ and leakin’ o’ sap. At first we thought our ploy successful, but the ornery orchid soon found a new source o’ water, plungin’ its roots into poor Joe’s noggin an’ liftin’ ‘im into the air. We hung on ‘is ankles and tugged back, ignorin’ the scratchy sea vines hamperin’ our efforts. Yaharr! We uprooted it and it crashed down on deck, on top o’ Joe.

Gaargh, me sea-orchid’d flowered already. ‘Er broad fleshy petals had the unhealthy hue o’ a dead shaven mammal (‘tis one lighter than ‘bruised cuttlefish’), an’ run through with a violet criss-crossin’ o’ veins what wrapped around its poutin’ stamen, curiously aflicker with a dozen tiny tongues.

No sooner’d we regained our footin’ than the bloomin’ thing were off again – Joe’d unravelled ‘imself and run aft blindly (‘tis not like he has a choice), with the lethal leaves flappin’ in hot pursuit. Joe got cornered when ‘e ran into a wall. We ringed it in turn, cutlasses drawn for prunin’. It rattled menacingly and pounced at us.

Gaaargh! We made two further laps of ye Lollipop afore it went for Joe once more. I pinned a stalk with me peg an’ hacked it with me blade. The savage sprout were undaunted and seized Joe by ‘is ankles. It tenderised the lad by bangin’ ‘im on the deck then stuffed ‘im headfirst ‘twixt its petals. The plant bit Joe’s head clean off and sucked ‘is body dry. Gaargh, ‘twere not the flower for makin’ amends to a loved one.

Despite me hopes o’ rivallin’ ye tulip trade, it seemed unwise to cultivate ‘em given their demandin’ diet. I set Kanagawa the task o’ distractin’ the bloodthirsty blossom while we gathered herbicidal tools. Me Japanese mate soothed the plant by ‘is foldin’ o’ intricate paper figures what rustled in a leafy manner. ‘E were on ‘is thirtieth petal fold o’ ye origamic sea-urchin when we sprang into action.

The Dane’s we’d “met” yesterday’d been so thoughtful as to leave us their weapons, women an’ assorted vittles. In particular, a gleamin’ double-headed axe with which I cleaved the vicious vegetable in two. Both halves fought back, oozin’ sap an’ stickiness. We doused it with pitch an’ a pinch o’ gunpowder, and garnished it with a point-blank pistol blast.

The explosion took ye eyebrows from us all. The orchid crackled and popped, twitchin’ feebly in ye flames. Billy noted the smell were like that o’ fried tomatoes, and though the taste were marred by the aftertaste o’ tar it were fine with our liberated bacon.

‘Twere then we heard the bumpin’ of the other plant pods ‘gainst the Lollipop an’ the rasp o’ fronds coilin’ over the railin’s, ‘tis a sound to make a grown man hide below-decks. We reached land safe again, but gaargh, me fingers be green with the blood o’ them sky flowers; I can scarce look me pansies in ye eye.

Captain Pigheart’s Crustacean Adventure

Gaargh, twas the night before ye mornin’ after. Me and the lads’d put in at nearby Thorny Knobbler for a well-deserved and liver-bruising bingein’. Y’see, our lootin’ of a brace o’ refugee ships just off the coast looked to be boostin’ our lamentable performance in ye Piratical League Tables.

We gatecrashed the village’s annual Crab Fete, and found ‘em celebratin’ their crabbin’ at the Sole Tavern where they merrily capered in amusin’ marine garb. Ahar, we had a fair old braggin’ over the sheer cunning we’d expended on ye luckless travellers. We’d masqueraded as a ship o’ mercy, offerin’ to tend to the various sickenin’s such as ye know from ye times at sea. Gaargh, the surprise on their faces as we boarded ‘em unasked and then sailed off with the remnants o’ their former lives – it be a treasure itself.

Talk soon turned to the fresh tally o’ league points we’d accrued through our sheer pirattitude – ruthlessness, and such precious heirlooms as a fishin’ rod and cardigan – would more than counter-balance the sea-beasties and disaster with which we be unfairly afflicted of late. Ahar, I had meself a fine new hat, and me lads were suitably bedecked with their spoils.

Me mates challenged the crabbers to a drinkin’ contest which left ye cellars drained, and Billy No Mates blubberin’ in a corner. Thus brutally inebriated we turned rowdy and broke ye tavern. The locals’d been somewhat crabby throughout and their sourness peaked: it seemed their visitin’ cousins had arrived late and naked, and we were wearin’ their fine embroidery… it were an awkward moment.

These quiet times be dangerous for pirates – a few drinks make us prone to melancholic or mutilatin’ moods. Twas in such an interlude that Monty McBuboe unveiled a truly manly brew – his infamous barnacle absinthe, scraped from ye hull and crudely filtered through the bowels of a monkfish. Gaargh, it tasted like the ocean had shat itself in a bottle and died. A few rounds later we were tossin’ back jellyfish shooters and laughin’ at the stingin’ sensation in ye eyeballs.

I suffered a glimmerin’ of alcoholic contrition – though we’d certainly not be returnin’ their family jewels (we be pirates!), we had shared their shindig and our fermented molluscs – and it seemed right that we be makin’ some recompense. Yarr, we’d much experience o’ crabs, and given the encouragin’ cheers I committed our hands and hooks wholeheartedly to honourin’ their crab-catching ways.

Those of us still capable o’ perambulatin’ (let alone rowin’) tumbled into the dinky coracles favoured by ye locals. After much gigglin’ and splashin’ only Monty, Hamish an’ meself were still afloat, the rest mostly made it back to shore. Gaargh, me plannin’ under the influence be poor and we’d failed to take note of ye crab lines or even bring any bait for the temptin’ of ye crusty snacks. Twas well we had Monty McBuboe and his loose leprous limbs. We tugged free a handful o’ toes and dunked ‘em in Monty’s brew to sterilise ‘em – we’d not want the catch inedible.

We tossed the baited pots overboard and toed ye line patient-like, enjoyin’ the stars as they spun widdershins above us. Arr, the barnacles be makin’ a giddyin’ brain-pickler and the world blurred about us. Me old pal Jelly McFish and Sir Lee Shark serenaded me with a shanty about a grumpy mermaid and her itchin’ nether-flippers.

I were brought back to meself by the sound o’ the sea to which Hamish were addin’ with ‘is rhythmic retchin. But that familiar sound were not what roused me – ‘twere in part the urgent jerkin’ o’ the line I’d tied ‘twixt pot and Monty, an’ partly the result as it tugged off his foot. Hamish and meself grasped the rope and hauled upon it (for Monty seemed ill-disposed t’assist), reelin’ in ye kreel and the tasty supper it doubtless held.

Ahar, as ye water grew foamy, so too did me excitement – mayhap a half-dozen o’ the wrigglin’ tykes’d be the meal to square us with our reluctant hosts. ‘Twas when a claw the size o’ the coracle itself broke the surface and seized Hamish that I recalled the somewhat ominous edge to ye yokels’ cheers. I looked about hopefully, but there were no sign o’ me delusional chum Jelly McFish to mediate with our new pincered pal.

Gaaargh, I smote it a blow with me cutlass that made me hook ring. Its gnarly forelegs tilted me boat and its monstrous mandibles made nibblin’ motions at the screamin’ Monty – methinks the absinthe’d taken ‘im badly. Hamish struggled in the crab’s squeezin’ till his eyes bulged and his sporran quivered – thank the gods for his deep-fried-flabbiness, it’d be awhile before findin’ bone.

Though I felt its mad boggly eyes upon me I grabbed for Monty’s sack, squeezed and pulled out the last two bottles of barnacle absinthe and smashed ‘em over the beast’s carapace. The liquor were certainly irritatin’ the creature, but I were countin’ on Monty to snap shut me trap. I urged ‘im to scrabble faster with ‘is tinderbox. Gaargh, he were makin’ a poor fist of ye task – ‘tis tricky when ye be a thumb short. At last me disastrously-dextrous chef achieved flame and laid it gentle against the crab’s craggy shell.

Ahar, that vile spirit caught with flair, cookin’ ye crab in ‘is own exo-skeletal pot. Me prey seemed immediately displeased and pulled harder, until in its broilin’ frenzy the crustaceous monster popped poor Hamish like one o’ Monty’s buboes. Gaaargh, ‘is lad-lard bubbled and spat on the deceasing sea-fiend. At length the thrashin’ ceased and the crab floated still and steamin’ in the first light of dawn, Hamish’s tam o’shanter welded to its claw. Twere a sad sight but a marvellous smell. We hopped aboard, so as to punt it to shore.

We’d great expectations o’ a grand welcome and reconciliation and hopefully the revealin’ of a secret supply o’ grog. As we hauled the crabbish dish onto the pier ye locals fled shriekin’ and yellin’. ‘Twere a puzzle till Billy observed, with rare lucidity, that it be odd to find just one giant beast – they be known for begattin’ further monstrous kin, which were at that moment sidlin’ up to ye village in angry, snappin’ waves.

The chances o’ sortin’ our differences seemed limited and less important in the light of day, so we fled to ye Lollipop. We sailed off to a safe viewin’ distance and cracked open our breakfast smackerel. It turned out me Scottish butterball’s man-fat’d flavoured the crabmeat finely. ‘Twere a balm to me burgeonin’ hangover and added to ye excitin’ crab-cabaret ashore. Gaargh, we’d ruined most of our embroidered prizes in our briny flailin’ and had little but a new recipe to show for our bravado the night before. I’d blame me men, but I fear it be me own catastrophic magnetism what consigns us to the shallows of ye Piratical League Tables.

Captain Pigheart in the Valley of Seth

Gaargh, the sky were blue and the sun shone brightly upon me and me beloved wife, Roberta-Clementine, as we drifted over the countryside. Me mates’d surprised me by rememberin’ our anniversary wih the gift of a romantical balloon ride. They’d managed to land a giant puffer-fish, but rather than cook it, the lads’d tethered a basket to the festerin’ fish and allowed it to re-inflate with its decomposin’ gases. Billy No Mates piloted whilst we growled sweet nothin’s an’ tore off our petticoats.

The picturesque valley below, with light dancin’ across a patchwork of yellow and green fields seemed the ideal spot for our pickernick. At me direction, Billy began our descent, slashin’ the swollen carcass above our heads with ‘is cutlass. The fishy-flesh parted with a damp pop and smothered us with a stream of foul vapours. We began to corkscrew down into the valley’s shadow…

I awoke surrounded by wheat and cornflowers. Ye rural scents were spoiled by the rancid balloon blanketin’ me and me bride. Gently I roused Roberta and savagely booted Billy into wakefulness. Gaaargh, ‘e seemed quite abashed, and I’d not the heart to beat ‘im further; Roberta shared not me sentiments and laid about him with the hamper.

For want o’ direction we skipped along a neatly bricked lane singin’ shanties (me current favourite be ‘A Bishop Met a Raddled Whore’, for its fine rhythm and ring o’ truth). Our ramblin’ were disturbed by a rustlin’ in ye field before us from which a figure staggered. Garrgh, he seemed at first to be a fellow of whom we might make enquiries, but ‘is ramshackle gait, sackcloth face and the straw pokin’ from out ‘is garments made us wary. He lunged towards us, as if to partake of our sing-song. To me surprise (though more to Billy’s), ye scarecrow proved to have viciously sharp finger sticks with which he flailed at us. Perhaps our gigglin’ and good cheer’d irritated ye ordinarily inanimate agricultural figure. No matter, we pulled off his legs and skipped away.

Our jiggin’ were further hastened once Roberta’d noted that all the scarecrows dottin’ the fields were not merely twistin’ their malevolently misshapen heads to mark our passage, but were unhitching ‘emselves and stalkin’ us through the corn. Mercifully we soon espied a dwellin’ atop a hill; the doors of which proved robust and easily barricaded.

We’d happened upon an abandoned visitor’s centre featurin’ a range o’ rustic exhibits and blissfully, a bar for ye parched and edgy travellers. We chose to ignore ye eccentric décor of wooden beams an’ whitewash crudely streaked with red, reminiscent o’ some terrible slaughter. Perhaps it were a yokel fad, I knows not, bein’ of the sea.

Accompanied by mugs of cider we ambled about with our minds turned to ye “enquiring” settin’. In the heart o’ ye buildin’ a large arrow declared “ye be here” on a map of ‘Ye Valley of Seth’. The locals were proud o’ their exports of cider apples and golden wheat (and rightly so). Tragically, recent years’d seen a plague o’ thievin’ birdery cause terrible harvests, rickets and so forth. Seems they’d overcome these setbacks, for ye fields were full and we’d heard not a twitter all day.

The next tableau featured a wax figure of King Seth himself strikin’ a plainly insane deal with witches to rid ye valley of pests. There were then a fascinatin’, if disturbin’ explanation of how to make a more effective raven-repellent by transplantin’ a man’s still-beating heart into a scarecrow. Gaaargh. From there ye exhibit digressed to scrawlin’ on ye walls – ‘Seth be killin’ us all, he be a scarecrow himself, aargh, they be comin’ for me now, they be here, help…’ trailin’ off into a pool o’ blood.

Twere a most informative exhibition – but a bit slapdash at the end. It did set concern a-tickin’ in our breasts, for the hammerin’ on ye doors had grown and we’d now reason to fear ‘em even more than the crows did. Roberta, with ‘er practical female mind, found distraction in tidyin’ and re-organisin’ the stuff about us whilst Billy and me sought a moment o’ peace in a third barrel o’ scrumpy.

I decided to establish a dialogue with ye besiegin’ army. Leavin’ Billy curled beneath a shelf, I leaned from ye window and hurled friendly abuse at the agrarian automata. Gaaargh, they’d multiplied since last I checked and ye visitors centre were the heart of a sea o’ gawky straw folk. I could see why they’d scared off ye birds; their button eyes stared into ye soul and left it cold, and itchy.

One scarecrow seemed familiar as ‘e stumbled through the massed army, bearing the tattered robes of a patchwork prince; a cloth crown stitched across his lopsided noggin. He confirmed himself as King Seth, with a yokelly gargle of “get orf moi laaaand, you’m be trespaaassin’ on moi praaarp’ty”. He sounded foolish enough to tear out ‘is own heart at the behest o’ some mad crone. Apple-addled I belched a contemptuous retort (I were not me usual erudite self). This only angered the bumpkin king further for he rattled ‘you’m been drinkin’ moi coider and stealin’ moi craaaarps!’

Frankly, the yokel-ruler’s absurd accent were startin’ to rankle, plus the scarecrows’d started to throw stones – ‘twere time to formulate a stratagem for escape. Fortunately I’d underestimated me bride. While I were busy rilin’ the valley’s ex-populace she’d made amazin’ progress. Roberta were at the top of the stairs, astride a rustic killing cart. ‘Tis remarkable what ye can do with a few barrels and a dozen scythes. I hauled Billy on behind us; though I’d gladly have left him behind, I’ve never yet lost a pirate – in a visitors’ centre anyway.

The monster rook-rattlers were usin’ each others’ spinal poles to prise ye doors apart; ‘twere cruel, but effective. Roberta ignited ‘er makeshift cider rockets and we shot down the stairs and through the first row o’ scarecrows. The bladed wheels mowed ‘em down exactly like a mechanical scythe on wheels – there be a patent pendin’. Roberta be a vengeful wench so we descended spiral-wise, so as to hack up as many o’ the accursed crow-queerers as possible.

They fell upon us in their unfortunately comical manner, and we cut a swathe through ‘em on every turn. Windin’ about the hill, we came upon King Seth himself – but just as Roberta were about to cut him down he showed surprisin’ agility and leapt onto the cart.

He proved a tricky adversary – me hook sliced through him to no avail, merely scatterin’ a few ears o’ wheat over me companions. His claws scratched at me face as he raved tediously about the harvest. As ever, me beloved were straight to the point. She drew her pistol and fired it point-blank through the King’s chest, blasting ‘is rotten heart across Billy’s face. As the scarecrow king fell limp, so too did his army, falling in crapped out crop circles about us.

We tootled onward, out o’ the Valley of Seth, we’d reached the end o’ this awful, scenic place. Ahead of us were a quaint little tavern advertisin’ ales, cobs and the cabaret stylin’s of the Siren Singers. Gaaargh, I loves it when a plan comes together.

Captain Pigheart’s String Along Adventure

I does like to stroll upon ye seaside a-scannin’ for precious flotsam. Me glass eye literally popped out when a Punch and Judy show blighted me view. A red mist came over me remaining eye and I lunged for ye puppet fondler. Aaarrr, the next I knew Mick were draggin’ me away, me hook bloodied and the air full o’ children’s bawlin’.

I suppose I ought to explain me beach rampage. It all began as we were about to embark for our treasure isle and there to bury our loot. When I were approached by a gentleman o’ Italian inclination I were naturally suspicious. He introduced himself as Olivio di Pederasti, a puppeteer o’some repute, recently fallen from grace followin’ a brave new performance of ‘Ye Lustful Monk’ at a primary school. He sought refuge from the law and offered entertainment as payment. He were a bit odd, but his amusin’ accent would be a welcome distraction from Twister and chunderin’ contests.

Olivio were a boon for the lads. By night he performed tales of derrin’-do and romance with such realism that I’d catch them peekin’ up the ladies’ skirts. Lamentably, I caught Billy molestin’ Judy behind the mast. Aaarrr, I never saw that hand puppet again.

Di Pederasti also revealed a rare knowledge o’ anatomy and woodworkin’ vital to his trade. He crafted a new nose to slot into Monty McBuboe’s weepin’ face hole, and prosthetic paws for No Hands Mick. The man’s wizardry knew no bounds and the parts he fitted moved as if they had life themselves. Even Monty’s new nose had life of sorts: his every white lie caused ‘is nose to extend and after just one intriguin’ meal he were bein’ used as a novelty fishin’ rod.

I were offered a new leg meself, but I dotes upon Idle (the ship’s cougar) who be fond o’ sharpenin’ her claws upon me peg. I’d no objection to the woodenation of me crew mind, despite them fillin’ up ye accident book with splinter mishaps.

I’d not realised how many o’ me crew were horribly maimed till the advent o’ marionette medicine transformed ‘em into models o’ productivity. Gaaargh, it were as if their new limbs had minds o’ their own, tyin’ knots with their toes and sharpenin’ knives in their sleep.

The night before our arrival at ye plunder-laden beach Olivio treated us all to a piratical piece he’d devised. The lads wore their usual rapt expressions, eyein’ up ye puppets even when ye tale grew ugly, tellin’ of a prosthetically backward captain hiding the treasure from his renovated crew. It were a tad disquietin’ when ye puppet crew mutinied, admittedly bloodlessly (them bein’ puppets), but ye captain’s death scene were far from wooden. I went to me hammock ill at ease, arrr rum be a blessin’.

After a fitful night of bein’ heavily trod by Idle, I were roused by Monty with a mug o’ coffee. I enquired after the freshness o’ the cream he’d added and were poked in the eye by his conscientious snout. He left me to me body-swabbin’. Smartened up somewhat, I went out to give me lads the treasure buryin’ pep talk I’d prepared.

The cannon pointed at me face were a bad sign. And then recognised the finely carved pine fists clutchin’ ye fuse. Gaaargh, betrayed by me right-hand man No Hands Mick! His shame were evident, for he could hardly speak without slappin’ his own treacherous cheek. And yet his rollin’ eyes were at odds with ye artillery. There’d never been strings attached to his loyalty before, or his sleeves for that matter… At last I grasped his meanin’ and looked up.

Olivio di Pederasti were aloft in ye crows’ nest, a tangle of ropes and poles dependin’ from his hands and feet like a spider for whom it has all gone terribly wrong. At a tug of his foot a brace of me mates lurched forth. Though their faces cried “no”, they could not resist – the Italian puppeteer’d commandeered me riggin’ and made marionettes of me men. I were incensed, and clapped in irons.

Olivio chuckled maniacally as the crew laid out our loot on deck. Gaargh, he’d played us with ease and now looked to be thievin’ me gold. The devil’s nooses were looped about me wrists and ankles so ‘e could jiggle me about in an unwillin’ hornpipe. Gaargh, ‘twere an humiliation I could scarce bear alone so I were not entirely dismayed when the mad Italian formed me and the crew into a kick-line chorus. Every mutter o’ dissent on our part caused ye puppet master to yank harder.

He were likely to have danced us to exhaustion were it not for me feline friend who’d been forgotten as she dozed in me cabin. The swishin’ of the ropes had prickled her interest sufficiently for her to bound into ye chorus, swattin’ playfully at her new toys. Di Pederasti played along, bouncin’ me above her head. Now, Idle’s always been fond of takin’ the hand as well as the treat… She seized me peg leg in her teeth and gave it a ferocious worryin’. Half ye crew flew upwards as Olivio were jerked from his perch. He fell amidst his puppet strings where Idle batted him into a fine cats-cradle.

Ye ropes now slackened I sought to take me revenge, thinkin’ I were now free of him. I be often wrong. Gaargh, he wirelessly took charge o’ the appendages he’d crafted for me mates. Mick’s hands clapped about me throat, and Monty kicked me in the shins. Monty’s extendable proboscis inspired a convoluted plan of escape. “Arrr,” I growled, “ye Spotted Dick were truly a masterpiece, did ye make the suet yerself?” His magical trunk of truth quivered with untold falsehood and he bashfully mumbled, “No cap’n, ahem, it were a, er packet mix. I’d never spice ye pud with me necrotised nethers”. His fervent denial caused his nose to shoot forth a branch o’ honesty matched only by the spear o’ virtue that tore through his britches and doubly skewered Olivio to ye mast. Gaargh, twere not just his nose he’d had refurbished.

I detached Mick’s digital enhancements, for with the manipulative marionette master thus morbidly impaled they no longer squeezed of their own accord. We’d untangled ye crew and made the Lollipop seaworthy, when a cry o’ “ship to shore” rang out, followed by me lookout tumblin’ to the deck. Perhaps it were the safety rope I’d loosened… Yarr, the ropes that bind be our saviours too. We’d no time to ponder the moral o’ the situation and the sawing o’ Monty’s astonishin’ appendages’d have to wait, for di Pederasti’d not acted alone – his accomplices were on the attack.

Captain Pigheart’s Polar Adventure

“Gaaargh, Mick it be not brain surgery,” I spat derisively as I cheerily spun me shiny new wheel to the left. ‘Twere a lovely brass wheel, with moulded grips, arrr she were a pleasure to grasp. But perhaps ye sporty gleam had affected me thinkin’, for over the next few days the air grew overly chill and me ship frosty. Gaargh, I’d probably meant me other left (or port as Mick insists).

Twas the danger in urinatin’ over the side what tipped the lads off to the error in steerin’. I arranged me pens and flipcharts so as to diagrammatically explain that the weight o’ gold in our hull were draggin’ us down the slopion’ side of ye Earth. Now given ye circularity o’ the globe twere as well to continue on our present course. I were takin’ ye long view but in any case, twere too late now.

Ye see, it were as cold as a snowman’s seed, too cold even for Mick’s sweaty palms, and they’d frozen tight to ye wheel – our course were fixed. At least it spared me own arms from hours at the helm. Ye increasin’ly bitter weather turned him blue despite the vast merkins I’d knitted. But in tuggin’ him free his mitts snapped off at the wrist takin’ him from ‘Look – No Hands Mick’ to mere ‘No Hands Mick’. Twere a shame but we all cheered up when his fists proved ideal for puckin’ in ice hockey.

As I were about to thrust Mick’s fist between Billy’s legs and score me third goal, the Grim Bastard lurched violently, tossin’ me mates hither and thither. I hoped we’d struck land- but twere just me stern bein’ ravished by a courtin’ whale. Ye humpin’ whale’s lusty thrusts bumped us onto a sheet of ice where we lay like an ill-used walrus.

The prolonged moanin’ of ye whale were taken up by Herr Doktor Gunther’s surgical plaything, a lad he’d borrowed from a circus upon whom to expand his medical repertoire. His lobotomised lowin’ brought forth a brace o’ sea unicorns to joust for me ship’s booty. The nasal swords clashed in freezin’ spray, occasionally plowin’ into ye Grim Bastard, callin for much pluggin o’ holes. That be a risky matter, and ye lads came out with as many holes as they’d stoppered.

‘Twere then we conceived of danglin’ the howlin’ half-wit over ye bows to distract the bladed sea-beasts whilst we seized their ivory. Arrr, Mick could only toe the line and so the mooncalf plunged into the sea. Twas the divertin’ sport of bobbin’ for the lad which led the narwhals to mortally wound each other. Bravely I ordered me lads to mount the dyin’ beasts and relieve them of their horns and meat before they sank.

An ice floe be a tedious place and I were despairin’ of ever eatin’ somethin’ other than blubber. Even spicin’ it with a lime marinade only pained us with discoverin’ that it were the source o’ the whales’ lust – the knaves of ye Piratical Catalogue had chosen to pickle ye ricket-haltin’ limes in the urine of a lady whale.

For want o’ diversion and a greater share o’ supplies, I encouraged me men to wander ye ice, especially Billy No Mates. He came slidin’ back one day, with news of fat birds dressed as nuns. Yarr, that confirmed why me polar bear patrols’d been so bored. I quietly inverted me compass while reassurin’ the lads they’d now no reason to fear ye dreaded arctic hare.

The discovery of ye penguin-folk ignited a worryin’ gleam behind the tiny dark glasses upon me sawbones nose. “Ha ha ha. I haf ein plan mein Herren, first ve must capture ze flippen-flappen-fischen-birden.” Ordinarily I’d press Gunther for details, but I were tired o’ checkin’ me tackle for icicles, so I led a team o’ burly mates out upon ye ice meself. Ye ice be not designed with a peg leg in mind and it were a perilous journey.

We motivated ye penguins by puntin’ their eggs towards ye Bastard where we leaped upon ‘em and tied ‘em to ye mast. They sank into a foolish complacency once we’d stuffed their eggs back under them – the next generation were the least o’ their worries.

Gunther unveiled his new contraption with a feverish grin: “Viz zis device ve vill hollow out ze penkvin und ve vill escapen ze ice.” I weren’t followin’ entirely, but when the psychotic Teutonic asked for volunteers I took a closer peek. Gaargh, if ye can imagine a man-sized melon baller studded with more blades than a blind barber, then ye’ll understand why I volunteered me first mate, Billy No Mates.

The machine were swift in its evisceratin’: a sheet o’ frozen blood mist cascaded to the deck revealin’ a dazed penguin and a heap o’ steamin’ gore. Arr, we were suprised, ‘specially when Gunther flipped open the penguins beak to reveal Billy within. Aaargh, he also seemed a mite taken aback.

Gunther’s crypto-zoological chicanery were interestin’ but hopefully had a purpose (unlike the unfortunate incident with ye dwarves). He aimed to graft the least popular of me crew into manguins, grantin’ us aqua-mules to haul us from the ice. It seemed a tad extreme, but Gunther swore it’d be a reversible procedure and were our sole hope. After some vicious votin’ we got another five hybrid pengmen into ye water. But before we could even test ye Doktor’s thesis, black fins arose from ye waves.

There was naught we could do – the killer whales each picked up a penguin, and wolfed them down. Gunther looked oddly triumphant at ye eruptin’ foam of blood. I were not best pleased and told him so, though be begged me indulgence. I soon saw his reasonin’ – munchin’ on me mates had ensnared the orcas (I’d wondered at the cutlasses’ purpose). The enraged fish whipped us off our ice floe and back into ye ocean.

It were a noble, if excessive sacrifice that saved most of our lives. I were about to offer a few heartfelt words in memory of Billy when a flipper slapped wetly on ye gangplank. Even though Billy’s survival spoiled me eulogy I’d not the heart to throw him back for despite his fishy scent he were far less irritatin’ in his nunnish birdery. Since I’d forgot the names of our other saviours there were little else to do but celebrate our escape from ye south pole with mugs of whale beer; all the blubber turns to alcohol – or a thick floatin’ scum.

Live Pigheart

Ahoy mates, if ye fancy your chances face to face with ye afeard Pirate Captain, perhaps ye should come to:

Tea Party – A Night O’ Poetry and Music
at The Art Organisation, Station Street, Nottingham
Friday 6th March 8pm till late
No entrance charge, but bring ye own grog

I’ll be readin’ a couple o’ tales in the course of ye evenin’ and enjoying the cultural meanwhile.

Captain Pigheart’s Bangin’ Choon Adventure

Gaaargh, we’d been at sea some while and the lads were growin’ crazed as a hermit crab in an undersized shell. Sean ‘the tool’ O’Toole was bein’ especially tiresome, wailin’ about his engorged manly bits an’ his need for a spot o’ lancin’. The lad were not quite the Casanova he hoped for; he’d merely grown infected after humpin’ a manatee. ‘Tis natural for a bleary-eyed sailor to mistake a half-tonne sea cow for an amiable maiden when he stumbles across one on the sloop deck.

Our hold’d been a bestial mess since being commissioned to gather a hoard of maritime wonders for the King o’ Tarsus. We’d gone a mite overboard in our freakish fauna fishin’ and had a shipful of odd-legged amorous octopi and the like. We’d even snagged a downy-breasted siren! The feathery wench’d been gagged by ‘Not Got A Shell-like’ Charlie who were immune to her mesmerisin’ song; the king’d reward us handsomely for the mythical bird-lady, especially if no man’d plucked ‘er.

Ye traditional pirate pastimes’d worn thin and the lads were reduced to a half-heartedly tauntin’ ye menagerie. Their gripin’ were clamberin’ over me breast so I shoved Charlie into the lovin’ mollusc’s seven-legged embrace to amuse the crew and retreated to me cabin with a tankard o’ whale ale and distant screamin’.

Me boozy snooze was disturbed by me pirate-sense a-tinglin’. Gaargh, some danger were near and likely related to the bangin’ tune piercin’ me looming hangover. I groped for the door, mistakin’ at first the fine Grecian statue with the delightful cleavage. I paused there for an extra grope or twain. Yarr, it’d been some while since I’d tweaked more’n her stony teat.

When I opened me door the thump were accompanied by an enticin’ ‘oo-oop, oo-oop’ as if some tropical bird’d been unleashed on deck; unlikely given the crew’s appetites. In the ‘cumulatin’ gloom o’ dusk I made out the giant form o’ Hamish McMuffin beatin’ an old barrel, his kilt swishin’ with an alarming freedom. The patter o’ me old renegade snares matched the moanin’ o’ Sean O’Toole as he gingerly tapped his bulgin’ bongoes. Slap in the middle of the deck pranced the siren, enchained yet unstoppered, chirrupin’ that eerie whoopin’ into the mix, shakin’ her feathery behind and be-stirrin’ me crew. The sea-witch’s tweetlin’ sent an intoxicatin’ thrill up and down me spine, ticklin’ me cogitatin’ orbs.

I felt a powerful urge to join me lads in their tribal bangin’: gaargh, we’d already yielded to the siren’s charms. Our only hope were to outdo her spell. I directed First Mate Billy No Mates to break out Monty McBuboe’s emergency store o’ sea-slug tequila and cockle shots and distribute ‘em to the crew. With the pirate percussion growing I hurried back to me cabin a-tremble with excitement.

I tossed back me mattress and unlocked the oaken chest beneath. ‘Twere bequeathed to me in case o’ dire need by me father, Captain Seaflange, of whom me last memory be his toothless grin after pinning the tail on a real donkey at me ninth birthday, and his consequent fatal head-hoofin’. I popped the lock to reveal phosphorescent crabsticks, a single white glove and a whistle exquisitely carved from the face of a mermaid. Gaaargh, thankin’ ye pa.

The atmosphere were electric when I returned to ye deck: we were sailin’ into a storm. The first raindrops spattered onto the planks, syncopatin’ with ye frantic beat as I handed out ye crabsticks. Lads o’ various disfigurements abandoned the tame hornpipe to chant ‘big fish, small fish, cask o’ rum’, blazin’ neon whirls about ‘em with their glowin’ crustaceous canes. Barry’d donned his silks for the occasion and so Sharon were gyratin’ enthusiastically in ye brig.An’ then the storm tossed in her own beats, rollin’ filthy bass notes through me rigging. The dance’s intensity grew with the wind whistlin’ through the sails while Hamish’s hammerin’ drew schools o’ dolphins to circle us, yakkerin’ rhythmically.

Yarr, I felt like me time’d come at last. I burst into the heart of ye dance and threw down me own piratical shapes. Ye’d be amazed at the breaks ye can achieve with a peg leg to pivot upon. The lightnin’ flashes strobed across me crew, renderin’ us all to jerky puppetry. From without our manly beatin’ came a soarin’ vocal chorus – the angelic sound urgin’ us onwards and inspiring’ Monty MCBuboe into a euphoric rantin’ so fast as to be near unintelligible, showerin’ us with digital breaks from ‘is leprous limbs.

As I dodged his flyin’ thumb I noted the horde of voluptuous yet ornithine ladies engaged in boardin’ me ship. The siren wench’d summoned her pals and in spite o’ me good sense I couldn’t help wagglin’ me glowstick invitin’ly. The lads let out a cheer as their dainty toes hit the deck, their unearthly wailin’ blendin’ harmoniously with the orchestral hues of a ship’s galley played by its tone-deaf crew.

I peeped me whistle in chime with the beguilin’ bird brushin’ her bushy plumage ‘gainst me. As if hypnotised they joined with the crew in an ecstasy o’ ‘starfish, jellyfish, what the devil’s that?’ Gaargh, we danced through the night, by which I mean both ye upright and horizontal tangoin’.

Gaaargh, I awoke spittin’ out feathers and cuddlin’ a huge and crackin’ egg. It took a moment to realise me crow’s nest’d been redecorated with a fetchin’ interweavin’ o’ riggin’ and odd limbs; at a quick count o’ legs I figured me crew’d struggle to win the next Twister death match.

A shadow were cast over me as its mother descended upon the nest bearin’ the flailin’ deformity of Sean O’Toole. The siren’s arrival met perfectly the splitting of the shell, a slimily feathery head poppin’ free in time to engulf the Tool’s danglin’ nethers. ‘Tis a wincing form o’ nourishment, but at last Sean’d served a purpose.

Twas clear that me seductive groovin’ had saved at least some of me crew from the sirens’ song, for I could hear their shufflin’ below. Like any proud father would, I peeped me whistle encouragin’ly at the fine young fledgling. Perhaps I’ll name him Polly.

Captain Pigheart’s Orthodontic Odyssey

Gaargh, once more I were bound against me will. This time it were not, strictly speakin’, me own fault. Ye see I’d fallen for the beauteous but eccentric Discombobula Dentata, Queen o’ the tiny island o’ Munt.

Of course, she were not aware of me adorin’ until I broke into her bedroom and offered her me hand. Yaarr, she took it, along with me teeth. Them she returned these to me mouth after sowin’ each tooth in the volcanic earth o’ her magical realm. There they gained the power to sprout into dinky homunculi – little versions of meself with twice the cursing. In reciprocative devotion I were to slay her nemesis, the wizard of Ars’Hole; bein’ young and on pain o’ death I agreed.

Ye plan were one o’ hotheadedness an’ toothache and led directly into a cell, where I prayed for a dose o’ scurvy to loosen me chafin’ pegs. En-manacled as I was were I’d no way to yank ‘em so I employed a cunning ruse. I adopted a ladyish pose an’ began a beguilin’ croonin’, like so. On lurin’ a gullible soul into me false embrace I were keen to avoid becoming his prison bride. So I nutted him in his manly region, acquirin’ the desired smack in the chops.

With a vigorous shake of the noggin, me unnatural fangs bounced out onto the floor. The cell filled with a fizzin’, rum-scented fog and high-pitched cries of ‘ahoy’! Blinded, I heard the clatter o’ tiny peg legs, screaming and the thump of the guard striking the earth. Through the alcoholic fug I glimpsed a pocket-sized pirate hoofin’ the guard’s eyeball into a rat hole. Gaaargh.

‘Ahoy shipmidgets’ I whispered in me newly gummy voice as they freed me. The little devils were already torturin’ ye rats as I stumbled out of the cell. Yet I felt dizzy, for I’d a kaleidoscopic view through the eyes of me homunculi. It made walkin’ tricky and when ye shipmites grew bored of me totterin’, they hoisted me aloft. With a delighted “we’re off to see the wizard” we barrelled up ye dungeon stairs like a disabled centipede.

I was still attainin’ full mastery o’ me migrainous vision when we charged into a room bristlin’ with soldiery. A choral “gaaargh” heralded our attack and the wee mes hurled themselves forth. Ye battle were frantic – them hook hands be nasty, especially when there’s a midget halfway up ye nostril. Some of the lads got a mite trampled and booted out the window, but we won the day through sinus punchin’ and entrousered combat. Both relieved and impressed I fell through the next door and blundered into a boudoir.

I grinned gummily at the dusky maidens strewn upon cushions in artful states of undress. In husky, enticin’ tones they explained that they were the wizard’s concubine slaves desperate for manly aid. Twere a tangent from me mission, and not one Discombobula’d welcome, but in truth me heart were wanin’. And they cheered me eye. Ye fancy wenches hustled me towards a small door shrewdly secreted within a paintin’ of a door. It led into a tunnel filled with much gigglin’ as me pygmy pirates tickled ye ladies with their clamberin’ and bosom-ridin’. I were gladdened by me splintered sight.

The passage emerged into an alchemical utopia o’ phials and jars the contents of which’d shame Monty’s galley. I espied me desire a-float in a jar – a fine set o’ dentures, fashioned, so the label said, of a narwhal’s love handle. I snapped ‘em into place and rewarded ye ladies with a devilish grin and a lemony aftertaste. Twas mid-snog that I noticed ye wizened feller in the chair.

I deduced from his weird shlurring tongue that I’d nicked hish teesh and though I could not grashp hish shpeesh, his crazy mime denoted a spell-casting. I dove sideways as his mangled magistry struck the wall, flingin’ forth gouts of ensorceled fluid. The ladies cowered behind me against the malodious magic. Meanwhile one of me mini-men grew horns and impaled himself in the enchanter’s chest. Under steady fire o’ transmogrifyin’ unguents hurled by me atomised army the wizard’s shape stuttered like a zoologists’ zoetrope; finally he turned into a giant pigeon and with a quizzical coo detonated into a rain of explosive butterflies which obliterated half the chamber.

Flowers, rabbits and angry doves ricocheted off ye surviving walls as we regrouped. I were untouched, save for the wings sproutin’ from me ears, but half me ex-teeth were grimly enchanted, bein’ either newly amphibious or bubblin’ sludge. The remnants hopped me-wards, their pegs shieldin’ ‘em from the ooze. I swivelled on me budding stump, afeard o’ what harm might’ve befalled those ladies from the tide o’ thaumaturgic broth without such maritime maiming.

Gaaargh, not only were their clothes magically vanished, but the potion’d reduced the bosomy wenches to the of me delighted diminutive doppelgangers. I had to remind ‘em to talk to the face, not ye chest (unless ye be alone with ye treasure). Ah, ‘twas sweet, but their widdle wooin’d have to wait for ye furniture was largely crocodilian and large.

I gathered up ye tiny tribe and secreted ‘em about me person. Oh how they tickled, the naughty rapscallions, until they realised I meant to leap out the pigeonated wall. Then twas all squealin’ and pinchin’. Ignoring them, I dived through the hole and fell. And fell. Finally I discovered the means o’ flappin’ me head wings and began a brief spiral before we smashed onto a little fishing boat. Fear not – ye crew were easily subdued by me band of shortened swashbucklers.

Then the teensy turncoats bound me to the mast and used me outspread ear-flaps to guide their vessel to a landfall o’ their choosin’. Gaaargh, I suppose they merely sought sanctuary for their tiny trysts safe from the larger boots of our kind. Gaargh, I’d have appreciated bein’ unbound before bein’ set out to sea once more; I’m growin’ too long in the tooth for these misanchored maroonin’s.

A Mere Smatterin’ of Chatterin’

Ahoy me brazen hearties, tis a great delight to be able to give ye a glimpse o’ ye beloved Captain deliverin’ me tales before a live audience.

Twas a delightful affair, midst ye Nottingham Comedy Festival, and though ye Mermaid’s Tale be fairly comprehensible there were a fair few ales in me belly by the time we reached The Polar Adventure.

Ahoy! Enjoy!



Captain Pigheart’s Gelatinous Adventure

Ye clouds clustered about ye swollen moon, like octopi menacin’ an expectin’ merwench (gaargh, memories…). Twere an ill omen, for ye lunar cycle breeds anxiety ‘mongst even the saltiest seamen, who prefer to be docked and drunk midst full moon. But we’d no chance of makin’ land fall for we’d lost both map and anchor in a bet over who were the most superstitious: ourselves or the crypto-astrological whalers of Gullible’s island.

Instead we busied ourselves with ordinary shipboard activities such as drinkin’, doin’ fiddlesome things with ropes and tormentin’ the new cabin lad we’d… acquired some weeks earlier, oh and worryin’ about ye portents.

A cry from the top mast dismissed me morbid musings. Tricolore Francois the tri-eyed recipient of the Good Doktor’s infamous opthalmic experiments, bade us all into the riggin’ for a glimpse o’ one o’ Mother Nature’s rarest sights. I espied only two dolphins dabblin’ carnally, this I’ve seen before. Me other port?

Arrrr twere a fine sight – beneath the waves pulsed the eerie glowin’ of a shoal of jellyfish, driftin’ in our wake. Twas most soothin’ to our lunar-inflamed nerves. With thoughts of dolphinry we rolled into our hammocks, or squeezed into ye bilge accordin’ly; tis Billy No Mates’ abode – his fresh stench were easier to tolerate than his cleaner-than-thou superiority.

Dawn eyed up the night suspiciously before creepin’ over ye horizon. He were soon startled off again by the inevitable shouting: Billy No Mates stood on deck, arm and finger extended in ye well-known ‘pointing’ gesture; me eye followed his finger. At first I were unsure to whom ye gruseome corpse belonged, but beneath the mass of red welts I recognised the same terrified features as I’d seen when bundling him into a sack. At least we’d not named the cabin lads yet, else I’d feel a greater sorrow. As twere, his pals’d commenced some communal keenin’ which grated vastly on me nerves. I’d no tolerance for that so I had Francois Tricolore harangue ‘em in his unspeakable tongue till they fell silent.

Aaarr, back to ye body. Whenever a man slips away on board I likes to have a bit of a poke an’ make some guess as to his fate with me mind suitably ajar. So I screwed in me magnifyin’ eyeball for a closer peek. Now this lad were wet and somewhat slimy – which we might attribute to our watery environment or perhaps some homicidal sea cucumber emergin’ from ye deeps. Gaargh, who knows?

I followed the strange footprints leadin’ from ye blistered body right up to ye rail and over ye side… A frenzy o’ panicked surmisery ensued in spite o’ me lighthearted comment that he were “a bit wet behind the ears” – gaargh! Because ye see, he were both new and wet. Tis a joke. Perhaps tis inappropriate to jest at such times.

When night boldly thrust herself upon us once more ye crew were exceedin’ jitter-some. The moon struttin’ out from her cloudied bower were yellow and engorged, impressin’ on us a sense o’ malevolence and slight stirrin’ of arousal… no? Tis just me then. The lads were windin’ themselves up nicely, so we watched ye pretty underwater undulations before retirin’.

Me slumber were arrested by a piercin’ scream, followed by an aghast scream which petered out into an anguished wail and finally a strangled squeal; twere a fine range. The lads burst forth with lamps and pistols at the ready. At the foot o’ the mast a grim sight greeted us: the three eyes o’ Tricolore Francois – red starin’ straight ahead, white down at the viscous filth slopped over his blotchy body and the blue gazin’ to starboard. Alas poor Francois, ye pretentious accent annoyed me more than reason could bear. We followed his blue eye and the footprints with all the stealth of an armed mob.

A further cry hurried us on. Out of ye shadows stumbled Mute Charlie bellowin’ “alarum” (he were dumber than a tin o’ squid rather than mute – curse that Billy and his blasted thesaurus; I’ll never know why we let him pick nicknames). The lads were on hair trigger and unleashed a salvo of shots at poor Charlie. Well, he howled out, but so did something else – an uncanny shadow of a man peeled off me crewmate and lollopped towards us.

The thing were like a fat drunk child ye could see through (that be translucency accordin’ to Billy. How I despise his pedantry). It quivered like Monty’s “Surprise Extract o’ Whale” but with added radiance. As with all things strange, we colanderised it with our discharge. It collapsed to the deck, spreading and elongatin’… with one last pulse o’ phosphorescence it grew still. There were a moment’s peace followed by a uniform hushed “well bugger me” at the sight o’ the dead jellyfish on deck. The moon winked sarcastically at me. Gaargh, I prefer daytime.

I sent Billy up the rigging to see how many more o’ them jellyfish were still hanging around. Shakily he reported ‘em bloomin’ thickly about us. Next we heard the sound of a gloopy hand slappin’ onto ye planks and another o’ the bioluminescent bastards slopped onto ye sloop deck. “To arms” I cried, earnin’ me some dark looks from me more unfortunate crew members. Pistol shots rang out as the battle began in earnest. Cannon fire, slaps and cries of “ow that really stings” surrounded me.

The sun’s morning glory finally fell across us and the hordes of blobby blighters slopped back into their natural shapes where we could stamp on ‘em. We’d many dead and the rest had taken their share o’ stings in surprisin’ly sensitive regions. Gaaargh, the moon ceased her waxin’ that night and ye mass of glutinous goblins sank out o’ sight, leavin’ us to pickle our weals.

One month later horrid smug-faced luna swaggered out from twixt her cloudy bower and leered knowin’ly at ye good captain. Suddenly I felt a stirrin’ within me, as if I’d eaten too much soup. I wobbled across the deck, unsteady at sea for the first time in years. So I reached for a bucket, anticipatin’ some unpleasantness, but me hand just flopped into it, stretchin’ away from me like hot wax tossed in the sea. I gaped at meself in the mirror – from beneath me eye patch came a deep green glow. Me artificial appendages clattered to the deck and I slid blubberily out of me clothes and into ye bucket, me tentacles floppin’ feebly over the lip. Bugger.

Gaaargh, every night of lunar largesse turns me into a jellyfish. Now that be the legend o’ the were-jelly – long may ye fear ‘em.

Captain Pigheart and The Scary Lady

Tis a tale o’ romance and thievery…

Night met us at the island, where even the moon turned a blind eye to our questing. Gaargh, not content with ye gloomy shroud, the clouds also tipped their chamber-pots upon us. ‘Tis just as well, for we’d been practising the noble art of piratical prevaricating and the downpour thrust us within.

I should explain how we came to be in this sodden land. Twere not through the usual drink, idiocy and greed. Y’see, we’d been visiting our old pal the King of Tarsus whose daughter were gravely ill. The king’s need were dire enough to outweigh me sawbones excessive keenness to wet his blades on the poor innocent. We spent an anxious night a-waitin’, with the anchor ready to flee.

To me great relief the princess lived, despite Gunther’s ministratin’s. In reward, the king granted us the pick of his famed Hall o’ Bullion. It were huge! We rested by a statue of a pirate captain engraved so finely ye could see the terror in his contorted face and the desperate grip on the plate o’ gold he held.

For a giggle, I laid me bottle of Old Scrotes Midnight Brew at the statue’s lips – as if he were drinkin’ it ye see! Ha har. As the first drop touched his lips, the figure began to rock violent-like, showering me with grit. There were a great groan and its stone jaw creaked open, and spake like a volcano blowin’ chunks.

The stone captain rumbled on and on about his exploits and the lasses he’d loved, though he finally turned to the details of his statuary and that lovely golden plate. “Seekest thou the isle of Gorgon. Treasure lies within, but turn not ye eyes upon the lady o’ the isle for she be most… bashful”. This plunged it into a fit of laughter so vigorous that he were soon naught but a heap of dust under a golden dish. Gaargh, twere a mite disappointing for he’d revealed little of use.

Ye sign over the Hall’s entrance were clear: ‘ye breaks it, ye buys it’. And so, a shiny platter and a sack o’ grit paid for saving the princess’ life (though not her virtue, gaaargh). Twas not till I scraped me breakfast of bubble and squid surprise off the plate that I espied the treasure map upon it.

And so we came to be standing, damper’n usual, in a murky cave. Having some bad personal experiences of poking into mysterious holes, I sent forth old Sam Knacker, the sail patcher. He’d scarcely tottered off before we heard a strangled scream – of the sort ye’d not wish to follow. Gaargh, twas not encouraging but I picked another of me expendable crew an’ we pushed him on ahead.

We found Sam round the bend, grey and rigid with fear. At least we’d truly found Gorgon. Sam’s granite fist still held a torch at a useful angle, brightening a broad chamber awash with untold plunder, tauntin’ us magpies with its glitter. Twere then I laid me eye upon a frightful vision – methought one of Jelly McFish’s more tentacular pals had crawled onto land. Its face were reptilian, and its hair writhed wildly as if eels’d infested its skull. It seemed womanly, though in the rough. Truly I fancied a good shriek and some girly runnin’ but I were mindful of me reputation. So I nudged Scurvy McMurphy towards her. Gaargh, their eyes met across the crowded cavern petrifying the lad mid-gurn. Then I noticed that the cave were filled with such figures – twere an ill vibe and called for a new plan.

Me crew were intrigued by the stonificatin’ and there were much disputing. All were agreed that curious rockipatin’ rays (‘tis Mick’s term) were surely transmitted by way o’ ye peepers. Gaargh, ‘tis here that me optometrical maimin’ by that malodorous octopus be finally a blessin’ for me monocular vision granted me grace against this demon. The plan were simple: I’d distract the crone whilst the lads robbed her blind – lest they be stoned blind themselves.

I returned to the cave bearing rum and a bucket o’ charm. In me most alluring tones I called her forth. Gaaargh, she were grimmer than Barry in the ship’s panto, but a swig o’ liquor softened her hiss. ‘Twere not long afore we were pleasantly conversing on matters from the military uses o’ whelks to the tragic loss of her sisters to some Greek feller. She’d been alone ever since with just her curse for company in this dank fortune-crammed cavern. Despite me instinctive revulsion, what with the rum an’ cushions me heart swelled for this sad creature, in whose eyes I saw not petrifyin’ doom but a glimmer o’ beauty deep, deep within. Her skin, while scaly were warm, although me fingers were numbed by her snappin’ mane. Yarrr, ‘twere a task for Captain Loveheart. I thought I’d lost me touch along with me hand.

We lay twisted in her silken sheets hissin’ softly to one another, when her eyes grew watery. Me heartstrings twanged as she sobbed that she were disfigured an’ ugly. She were no classic beauty ‘tis true, but I’d spent good money on far worse. I chanced upon a hand glass nearby, and held it to her face. She had time enough to whisper “Ignatius” before turnin’ herself to stone. Gaargh, I’d only wanted to show her the rainbows cast on her cheek by Sam’s torch. I lingered for a moment, then pulled up me britches and pillaged.

We filled the Grim Bastard with the Gorgon’s loot an’ steel enough for an armada. As for ye fossillated folk, the curse were not lifted so we flogged ‘em all to Polyorchid Paul’s Garden Chintz Boutique for a tidy sum.

Twere all grand until we found another map directing us to the island o’ Minos with its tantalizin’ labyrinth. Gaargh, the temptation were too great, and the ball o’ wool too short. If only I’d worn me bigger jumper.

Captain Pigheart’s Theological Adventure

Gaaargh, after months of plundering an’ the holing of many hulls, we was looking forwards to the King of Tarsus’ hospitality. In appreciation of the great man’s patronage we’d prepared a chest of lacquered limpets to brighten his cave o’ fancy tat.

The King’s a capricous fellow at the best o’ times, but the town had an oddness to it as we sailed in. The fishing boats that normally plagued the harbour were gone, and the Tarsian flag’d been crudely daubed with a violent pink squid.

The lads were in dire need o’ bathin’ and duty-free shopping, so we docked anyways. We’d scarcely shaken the salt from our beards when we were accosted by a swarm o’ pink-clad clergy folk. They boarded the Lollipop and officiously rooted through me cabins. Rage grew within me, and I expressed meself through the medium o’ a crossbow bolt. The rosy little friar tumbled off the pier with a satisfying splash, but it slowed the slew of ‘em not a jot.

Yarr, they confiscatered me booty and dragged it from me ship – we could not contest it, for me hasty shot’d caused them to direct their arsenal upon us. To break the awkward ice, I enquired after the particular nature of their faith, for their robes were more lurid than Barry’s snog-a-hog skirt. The mad-eyed monks dropped to their knees, waggled their arms and made ‘ooblie-oo’ noises. I were unsure how to respond so I smiled politely. Their bureaucratic brothers gave me a receipt for me tithes and a fistful o’ hysterical pamphlets before flouncin’ off.

Twere highly irregular; I feared there were either a new King in town or our normal crazed one had dived off the stern of his sanity. The King‘s enthusiasms are both a blessing and a curse for his subjects. Well I remember his order that we all wear live jellyfish for their prophylactic effect… twas an unhappy but pregnancy-free week.

Our anchors were locked and me cannons impounded, all on ye King’s orders. Gaargh, I felt more impotent than the operatic eunuch gibbon who tidies me cabin. I’m distrustful o’ priests with pistols, so I dispatched the young simian to investigorate the state of the Kingdom. Off he scampered, chittering in his gibbous tongue, arms a-flail.

There were little for the rest of us to do but drink rum an’ play deck games. The lads’d lost interest in curlin’, and had found favour in the ancient game of Hopscotch, or Hop over ye Scot from which it derives. We took turns to hurdle the inebriate mass o’ Hamish McMuffin, a man prone to ire and deep-fried squid rings. Barry had tripped over the slumberin’ Scotsman and were being battered about the deck when me freakish cabin-lad returned.

Gaaargh, I’d neglected to send a crewman with the gift o’ speech, so we endured an hour o’ monkey-mime to learn that an evil Greek (be there any other kind?) named Testicles the Canker had tainted the King’s mind and taken over the Kingdom with ‘is Church of the Gibbering Cuttlefish. The leaflets showed much leaping on furniture and evangelising of an inventively ludicrous nature. We’d actually encountered one such band of loons swimmin’ with cuttlefish in hopes of saving them from killer whales… they’d not been blessed with success on that occasion.

Testicles’ first edict were the executing of all budgies guilty of gnawing upon the holy husks ‘twixt the bars of their cages. He then embarked on a campaign to educate ye fishermen in the preservation of the sacred cuttlefish. Ye Tarsian fisherfolk be none too bright and after pickling their catch, dungeon-bound. Gaaargh, I be a fan o’ neither zeal, nor learnin’, plus the lads were most aggrieved at bein’ unwhored, so we made our plans with care.

A great storm cast its shadow upon Tarsus that night. We raided Barry’s wardrobe for dresses and body-stocKings of general pinkitude and sneaked ashore. As we slew the dock-guardin’ dullards I noted that the lads had acquired somewhat more ladies’ garb than was strictly necessary for disguise, though the glitter were awful sparkly in the lightning flashes.

From ye palace could be heard a vigorous hooning between the thunderous rumbles. We crept forth in alternate pace with the clouds’ discharging. The vision that forced its way into me eye as I peered into ye window’ll stay with me till I die: ‘twere an undulating mass of pinkish people, frottin’ tentacularly in foamy excitement. Yarr, the sight were queasifying – like a room full of amorous octopi. Even his majesty were thrashing limply with the rest of ye deranged devotees. Gaaargh.

We leapt into the flock of fools, unnoticed at first. I think it were the stabbin’ and stocKings what gave us away in the end. The monks soon ceased to turn the other cheek an’ their faith faltered in the face o’ steel borne by such crudely caparisoned corsairs – as Barry bemoaned: we’d not taken the time to accessorise properly. Me gibbon’d brought a jar o’ pickled squids and were adding to the hysterics by flingin’ them into the crowd.

Yarrr, one slimy squid slapped the King out of his religious reverie; enlightenment be a grand thing to shine in a man’s eyes. The King seized his favourite sword and set to a fine swashbuckling duel with the Hellenic heretic Testicles. Barry discovered that ye could tell the real monks from the press-ganged locals as the latter were mainly trying to escape from the cuttley-tryst we’d disrupted. Them we spared (if we’d not already slain ‘em) an’ mopped up the last of the molluscy monks.

The evil Greek fought on, face flushed in the manner of his favoured cuttlefish. With a dramatic spurt the King castrated him to polite applause, since we’d no desire to unhinge him further. It seemed the King were in the pink once more, for he ordered the monks stripped and their fine silks hung in the courtesans’ quarters whence he bade us all retire.

Around midnight, when the storm’d passed, I heard Testicles a-wailing for his, um, testicles, and were soon joined by the sympathetic tones of me gibbon. ‘Twere quite a castrati lullaby, for I fell sound asleep. Of course the next morning I awoke to find meself securely knotted to the mast of me ship. But that be another tale and never did dim the memory of me night in a King’s harem – gaaargh!