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It was time, decided Captain Blackbird of The Bountiful, to apply for membership of the Annie Bonnie Buccaneer Bluster (ABBB), that esteemed and exclusive professional club for only the boldest and bravest filibusters.
So his ship sailed towards Margate on the eastern seaboard of SA, in search of a trunko, the legendary sea monster with a body the size of an elephant and a fearsome trunk and tusks to match.
Membership of the ABBB required the hauling and delivery of a live trunko all the way to the Chichester Yacht Club in West Sussex, as well as meeting one or two other reputational aspects so necessary for exclusivity. It would never do for the ABBB to admit just any old pirate riff-raff.
“There’s a blowing ahoy,” simple sailor Sipho shouted out from the crow’s nest just before dawn, with the lights of the south coast dimly in view, and Blackbird rose from his slumber faster than Johnny Depp had signed up for the Jack Sparrow role in Pirates of the Caribbean.
“I’m a blockbuster myself,” Blackbird mused as he wiped the night from his sight, clearing out his eye sockets and popping his glass eyeball back in place.
Feeling fresher than one of first mate Long John Platinum’s formidable armpits, our steely captain pulled himself by his hook arm effortlessly up the ship’s ladder, and sprinted, as only one-good-legged pirates can, across to the bow.
“Tis one of those trunko blighter’s, that’s for sure,” Blackbird exclaimed excitedly. “Good on yer, Sipho. There’s more to you Zulu warriors than meets my one eye, that’s for sure, me matey.”
It was rare for Blackbird to praise one of his crew before midday and Sipho bristled with pride.
The battle that followed was a fortnight sight to behold, as Blackbird first tricked the trunko into arm’s reach by telling the flappy fish some of his best yarns, then softened up the slippery fighter with some tasty tidbits from the galley before sliding his hook arm through the Piscean’s lower lip.
Then after releasing the bolts that fastened the metal appendage to his muscular elbow, Blackbird made a reef knot of the ship’s anchor rope though the hook’s bracket, and the trunko was ensnared.
The beast first sounded, heading into the depths, and although The Bountiful tipped perilously on its bow, all the pirates hung from the stern and the boat righted before the risk of flooding.
Then the trunko torpedoed into the ship’s wooden hull, its tusks embedding themselves in the teak. But although he thrashed around maniacally, he could not free himself from the timber’s tight grip.
So the fish tail-finned first across the Indian Ocean, then out across the breadth of the entire Pacific Ocean, eventually rounding Cape Horn and heading across the equator towards the northern Atlantic, unwisely right into the close vicinity of Europe.
The passengers and crew on other boats gazed in amazement as The Bountiful criss-crossed their passages like a powerful ecstasy-fuelled speedboat with sails, though these were naturally torn to shreds by the high gale that trailed behind the boat, confounding all observers.
Blackbird, Long John Platinum, Sipho and the other sailors could not believe their fortune in having brought the bucking trunko so close to their destination, the fish now flip-floppy from its fury.
When eventually The Bountiful sailed into Chichester bay, the trunko had no more energy left. Hearty cheers were heard, but when, some days later, Blackbird received the result of his application from Annie Bonnie, chairpirate of the ABBB membership committee, his head drooped in disappointment and despair, for it was rejected.
No reasons were given. But if you were fortunate to hear the committee’s deliberations, you would know the reasons why, for the following had been said.
“Did you hear the story about Blackbird. Apparently, some years ago…,” offered Grace O’Malley.
“Yes indeed,” added Stikla, the great Scandinavian feminist for female pirate rights. “And do you know I heard…”
And when Lady Mary Kelligrew added to the rumours, Blackbird’s fate was sealed.
Treasure-Hunting Tip: It has been said that it’s easier to kill a dragon than to slay a myth, so don’t allow your past actions to create rumours that will haunt your future. The world is smaller than we think, and landing that desirable job depends a lot on reputation.
l Peter Christie is with Exclusive People. Contact them at 011 440 8560.