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48) THE UMBRELLA LADY....AND OTHER STORIES

By Edward Hassan (evhassan@paradise.net.nz)- an admirable seafarer who worked for the British and Swedish merchant navy, and lives in New Zealand. See his interesting homepage "The Bard from Tiger bay" for some fine poetry.The link lies below the sea story

THE UMBERELLA LADY..... Just before the second world war a friend told my dad that a crew was being chosen for a ship, but he would need to give the man at the shipping office a backhander of five shillings to get a job,My mother borrowed the money and off went my dad to try for a job as a ships fireman, he gave the man the money and was told to come back the next day.When he went back there was no job,My mother went to the shipping office and demanded the five shillings back, he denied taking any money and my mother lambasted him with her brolly smashing it to bits,The police arrived and my mother related what had happened, an enquiry took place and he lost his job for taking bribes,and my dad was given a job,Bill Henke, later to become the boss at the shipping office was a witness to what happened and always called my mother the "Umberella Lady." Obelix wondering what the hell is going on!!

KEEPING ABREAST OF THINGS.... We had just left Manchester enroute to Cardiff,having discharged a cargo of logs from Canada,I was on the 12 till 4 watch,at 3-45 am I went to call the next watch, pushed my hand between the bunk curtains in the lower bunk of an able seaman and found that I was shaking a very large breast, it gave me quite a surprise,and caused quite a lot of laughter.

THE JACKBOOT CAPTAIN... paint radar mastIt was 1951, I was sitting in the waiting room of the doctor at the shipping pool in Cardiff, it was my turn next, suddenly there was a lot of shouting comming from the next room, the door opened and a young lad came out looking very red faced,I went in and saw that the doctor was very angry, when I came out I discovered that the lad had spilt a container of urine all over the doctors papers.His name was Ronnie Sweetland and we were both joining a ship called the "EASTERN CITY" We became good friends and shared a cabin, The captainís name was James Doughty, who wore leather jackboots, and blamed Ronnie and I, for everything that went wrong, ranting and raving like a mad man, called us communists, and when he was threatening us would say "CAPTAIN BLIGH" has got nothing on me,also on board was an AB named Danny who had made several trips with the captain and he was suspected of telling tales to the captain about the rest of the crew,when he complained to the captain that he was afraid to live in the crews quarters he was moved in with the apprentices. One day the bosun told me to paint the after- mast, as I was about to go up the mast the chief mate said ,you have to paint the fore-mast,I said, the bosun said It was Danny who was doing the fore-mast as I had done it the last time it was painted,He said the captain wants you to do it as Danny has never painted a yard-arm before and he might fall. Clearly he did not mind if I fell, I refused to do it and said I would report the matter to the board of trade, as Danny was an AB and was receiving an unfair advantage. The chief mate always agreed with the captain,and was not a very nice man either, Then one day he came running to our mess-room shouting for us to help him, he had had a row with the captain who had threatened to shoot him with a slug gun, we told him where to go.These two were the worst Officers I have ever sailed with,and I think they deserved each other.

THE SWEDISH SHIP... Language problems!I had jumped ship in New Zealand, and was deported after two years,On my arrival back in Cardiff, I reported to the shipping pool hoping to get another ship, however I was told that I had been thrown off the pool and would not longer be able to get a job on a British ship,I kept going to the pool but without success,then I was offered a job on a Swedish ship and joined her at Newport docks along with another A B who I did not know, His name was Frank Sage, I really enjoyed my time on this ship as conditions and wages were far better than those on the British ships I had been on,There were many nationalities but everyone seemed to speak Norwegian,in those days they did not speak any English, I bought a book to learn the language and with some help from the crew I learned a little and at the same time I taught them English, Frank showed no interest in learning and always thought they were talking about him,One day he said to me "BLOODY FOREIGNERíS" why donít they learn to speak English,I said to him we are the foreignerís, He replied donít be stupid how can we be foreign, "WE ARE BRITISH".

A VERY WET NIGHT... Arrived in Yawatta Japan, that night most of the crew were enjoying a few drinks at a local bar, there were hostesses at each table, the one sitting near me and pouring my drinks was very nice looking and the deck boy took a fancy to her, he kept asking me if I would be going with her," I said no she is all yours" he was delighted, the bar was getting very full as a crowd of Americans arrived, I left with Peter the Donkey-man, We went to a Quieter bar and met a couple of girls who took us to a theatre and then for a meal,We then went to a hotel for the night,At about 6 am the next morning there was a lot of shouting in the next room,Then the door to my room burst open and Peterís girl rushed in shouting and raving ,and pushed me into the next room, Peter was laying there saying "it wasnít me" "it wasnít me" He had "PISSED ALL OVER HER" All the way back to the ship he kept pleading with me not to tell anyone,However I decided this story was to good to be kept a secret, much to the delight of the rest of the crew,The deckboy caught VD from the good looking hostess and said I was to blame,as I had passed her over to him.

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Source -Eddie Hassan's webpage- The Bard from tiger Bay
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