Works in the Herald 1935

Reduction of seamen’s wages is suggested on the grounds that the only qualification necessary in present day seamen is that they should be ordinary labourers. The days of skill in seamanship, some claim, have passed.

There on the quay sobbed Bones, A.B.,
   And he took me by the hand.
Says he to me, "I’ve quit the sea
   An’ I’m huntin’ a berth on land.
‘Er doom ‘as come; an’ the days o’ rum,
   Salt-‘orse an’ tar is over;
For these is the days of the popinjays
   An’ the end of the deep-sea rover –-
Them tough ole, rough ole, rollicking lads
   The shell-back, deep-sea rover.

"They’ve finished with me," says Bones, A.B.,
   "For they’ve finished with seamanship.
What they’re shippin’ of late is a milliner’s mate
   With a housemaid’s mop on the ‘ip.
But ask ‘im the rig of a barque or a brig,
   Or the toons of the chanteys sung
By a buck he-male in the days of sail
   When me an’ me mates was young –-
Them mad ole, bad ole, rollicking days
   When mates an’ the world was young.

"Before ‘e was born I’d rounded the Horn
   Ten times in ships o’ sail,
Close-reefed an’ fast in the bellerin’ blast
   Of the mother-in-law of a gale.
Bare-decked I been, an’ wrecked I been,
   Mate-hazed, marooned, shanghai-ed.
But shiver me gob, I knoo me job
   In the days when the seas was wide –-
Them reckless, feckless, rollicking days
   When faith and the seas was wide.

"So I’m leavin’ the sea," says Bones, B.B.,
   "For the sea don’t need me now.
An’ I’m shapin’ a course to valet a ‘orse
   Or coddle a milkin’ cow.
All that they asks of shipboard tasks
   Is a dood of a doll’s-eye weaver;
An’ I’m missin’ ‘em bad; them mates I ‘ad
   So lovin’ the sea they leave ‘er –-
Them tearin’, swearin’, devil-may-carin’,
   Lovable lads wot leave ‘er."

Herald, 11 April 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003-07