Seaside Storm

The dark grey clouds heavy with rain tumbled across the sky driven on by the cold lazy wind that preferred to go through you rather than go round. The white topped waves throwing salty spume into the air and racing up the wet grey sand to eventually crash exhausted on the shingle with a smack and a rattle that almost overcame the sound of the wind. Above the odd seagull braved the storm and making no headway turned and allowed the wind to carry it at full speed into the distance before turning again as if to continue a game of kiss chase.

Further out to sea alone sail border skims across the surface of the waves. Dipping and disappearing into the trough behind the waves only to appear again as he climbs the next wave, as he enjoys the adrenaline rush of risking disaster in the stormy seas. On the cliffside, sea birds take shelter from the storm looking like splashes of white paint against the dark background. Occasionally a bird risks the wind and is carried upwards into the sky to disappear over the cliff.

A dog walker comes into view head bent and collar up eyes stinging from the flying sand and spray. His dog following miserably behind also with head down and coat streaming water.  As the man turns and walks up the beach the wind catches his hat and tumbles it down the beach into the waves. The man turns gives a wave of annoyance and resumes his walk towards the steps and home.

In the harbour small crab and fishing boats bob and dip. The fishermen safe in the warm arms of the Jolly Fisherman drink beer and discuss the great storms of the past and look forward to a calmer sea and a successful voyage.

A distress rocket booms high in the air and they rise and rush to the lifeboat. In minutes the boat rushes down the ramp and battles the waves to bring in a yacht that foolishly ignored the storm and is now stranded having lost power.

As darkness falls distant lights can be seen some flashing at different rates give warning of rocks or sandbanks whilst others travel slowly across the skyline. These are the great cargo ships that dare any storm in their quest for profit.  Gradually the storm having exhausted itself begins to calm and peace descends.




Ambulance hurrying flat out to bring aid,

Blues and two clearing the way ahead,

Casualty waiting in pain and fear afraid,

Death may call and life may pass away.

Emergencies always have first place.

First aid brings swift release from pain  

Golden hour demand speed not delay.

Hospital staff wait nervously predicting

Injuries sustained and steps to take.

Joyful result or death chosen by fate;


Foreign Legion

Legionnaires parade smartly through the city

Marching to  Le Boudin or the Kepi Blanc

Non-French united in one brotherhood

Only one command recognised fight and die

Proud of this tradition and leave no wounded

Queen and country have no meaning

Respect of officers and orders followed

Supersede all other aims and orders

This makes the legionnaire forever famed



Unfurled sails and anchor raised

Victuals and water stored below

Whilst ancient sailors ply their trade

Xebecs three masts take the strain

Young men bring her through the storm.

Zythum refreshes tired bodies rest.


[Xebec, an ancient sailing ship.]

[Zythum, an  ancient Beer.]


Words swirl around in my brain,

Each seeking the immortality of the page.

Some like sparks have a short life,

Others more persistent invade my sleep.

Use me they cry, let me speak for you.

And I seek for order and rhyme.


Words swirl around on my in my brain.

Some seeking freedom and escape are violent.

Others loving and seductive gently probe their prison.

Why can’t they leave me alone?

And I seek for order and rhyme.


Words swirl around in my brain.

I reluctantly take up the pen.

They now more excited,

like dogs plead the release.

While White Paper lies blankly before me.

With fear and trepidation I begin to write,

And I seek for order and rhyme.


Words swirl around in my brain.

Too late, they cry, for order and rhyme.

They pour out onto the page.

Caring only for freedom they ignore me.

Pushing and shoving they become visible.

And I seek for order and rhyme.

The blood stained coat.

As the dead body was taken from the theatre the surgeon, Mr Sinclair, addressed the ranks of observers who had gathered to watch the operations. Some were medical students, but many were the dilettantes who were interested in anything scientific.

“Gentlemen, our next patient is a young factory worker who was unfortunate to get crushed between the wheels of a spinning jenny. The injuries to her leg are so severe I will amputate above the knee.” He continued. Please be as quiet as you can when the young girl is brought in.”


He turned to his assistants and nodded they quickly and quietly left the room and returned with the sobbing girl and laid her on the table. The assistants tightened the straps holding her on the table leaving the crushed leg free. Sinclair spoke to her his voice confident and kind. “Now my dear, keep your bowels open and trust in God and it will quickly be over.”


With that he turned to the small table beside him and placed the saw between his teeth, taking the curved fleshing knife turned to his work. An assistant had taken the girls leg and held it over his arm and held it firmly. Sinclair quickly placed his arm under the leg so that the knife was curved under her leg.


He made one quick cut in one move circled the leg and down to the bone as he did so the high pitched scream began. He dropped the knife and grabbed the saw with made five quick strokes, and he cut through the bone, and the leg was off.


The girl had mercifully fainted as he took one of the threaded needles from his coat collar. And began to close the veins and arteries when he had finished he took the flaps of flesh and stitched them over the wound. The girl was starting to come round, and he stared into her eyes seeking her forgiveness. “It’s all over my dear”.

As the assistants gently lifted her onto the trolley, She quietly whispered: “Thank you, sir”. The porters took her to the recovery ward. From her entry into the Theatre to the time she left 11 minutes had passed, Probably the longest 11 minutes of her life.


Sinclair turned to the observers and bowed to the cheers and applause of the crowd. Sinclair said, “Gentlemen the surgeon needs the heart of a Lion, the strength of a Bull and skill of a seamstress.”

With that, he left the theatre and entered his dressing room where he threw up over the floor. Trembling he took the decanter and poured a glass of fortified wine, he drank it in one gulp and wiping his hands down his blood and vomit stained coat made his way to the wards.


I may have the full fleshed body of a Sassenach
But I have a Scottish heart, not the heart
of a see you Jimmy Lowlander
But at the heart that stood on a cold
sleet filled Moor on a Wednesday morning
And felt the thrill of fear and the heat of battle

I may have the glib tongue of the Queen’s English
But I have the heart of a poet, not the heart of a McGonigal
But the heart that sings of the Glen and clan
A Song of enclosure and exile a Song of return and renewal
A song that sings of hill and stream of Stag and Rut

Oh I may have the full flesh body of a Sassenach and an English tongue
But I have a Scottish heart the heart and soul of the Highlander
And the blood runs hot, and the song rings out on Rannoch Moor
To a lost time and a time long past by and a time yet to come
When the Clans gather, and the Highland heart is one again

Captain Clutterbuck’s Storm

The Captain Clutterbuck was a pre-war tramp steamer of just over 7000 tonnes in her lifetime she had carried everything and anything to everywhere and anywhere. She had been called Captain Clutterbuck after one of her early captains, No one knew his real name and he was known as the most eccentric, popular, and lucky tramp captain. Such was his fame that Crew and Brokers always wanted to work with him.


Now the Captain Clutterbuck could no longer compete with the great container liners, and she had been sold to a Japanese shipping firm who wanted her as an attraction and good luck ship. She had been passed as seaworthy and after much searching, a Captain and crew had been found who were prepared to sail her to Japan. Most seamen thought of her as a rust bucket and likely to sink in the slightest heavy sea. Hence the difficulty in finding a crew.


As she set sail from Liverpool She was given a send off fit for the greatest liner, the dockside was crowded and the sound of ships hooters filled the air in salute Two fire ships made an arch of water at the entrance to the dock and a flotilla escorted her to the mouth of the Mersey.


The Voyage was uneventful until she was about a hundred miles from Japan When two things happened, her propeller shaft ceased up, and the weather took a turn for the worse a Typhoon was on the way and all ships were advised to run for shelter. The ship’s engineer and members of the crew began to dismantle the faulty bearing in the hope of repairing it. The radio officer radioed for assistance. The Captain Knew that help was unlikely to arrive until the Typhoon had passed.


Having no seaway at all the ship was at the mercy of the storm Sea Anchors had been lowered in the hope of giving some stability but they would be useless in Typhoon waves and would be in danger of dragging the ship down. As the wind and waves increased the captain ordered safety lines strung up to assist the crew’s movement, and he reminded the crew ‘one hand for the ship and one for you. He spoke to the cook and asked him to provide hot drinks and food as long as he could to encourage the crew.


The captain made the wheel house his home and reassured the helmsman that they would have power soon and that he should try to steer into the storm The Captain knew that conditions below decks must be horrendous. He instructed the first officer to keep him informed of the moral of the men and of the progress of the repair. All The time a voice in his head screamed to let her run before


The sound of the wind was so loud that it made communications almost impossible. It was like the screaming of a thousand banshees and dark clouds and streaming rain made him think of the end of the world. The waves were Several feet above the ship and as she tried to climb out of the trough they thundered down on her burying her under the water every time this happened the Captain thought she would go to the bottom but she always broke the surface. It had become impossible to hold her into the wind now the only thing left was to turn her to run before the Typhoon.


He wished he had done this from the beginning but he had hoped for power sooner than this. He warned the crew to hold fast as they were going Broadside before running before the storm. He thought this is where we will loose her She will overturn when Broadside to the storm. He looked at the face of the terrified helmsman and gave him a pat on the back, smiled, and told him to come about.


The waves and wind drove her broadside and he felt her leaning away from the wind until she was almost turning turtle but yet again with every bolt and seam-straining she began to right herself and continued to turn. Now with the full force of the terrible storm behind her, the Captain Clutterbuck raced forward the helmsman desperately holding her course. The voice in the captain’s head seemed to say now we will see what she can do.


The Captain ordered the first officer to give each man a tot of his choice, Although on duty he felt the no drinking rule could go to hell just this once. The crew needed some Dutch courage As he and the helmsman raised their glass to their lips he heard the crew singing, he could just make out the words ‘Fifteen men on a dead mans Chest’


The ship having been given her head seemed to have a life of her own and he began to believe they would do the impossible and survive the worst typhoon in living memory. The Captain had no idea how long they had been fighting the storm until the chief engineer reported that he had done what he could and the Captain could have his engines and propeller, as he turned to go below he apologised for taking two and a half days. It was then that the Captain remembered that the Helmsman had been relieved at regular intervals.


Gradually the storm overtook them, the Sun shone and the sea was like a millpond. The crew came on deck blinking in the sunlight mole in the “Wind and the Willows” When all the crew were on deck the captain came out of the wheelhouse and led the crew in a prayer of thanks. He then ordered another Tot all round and raised his glass first in salute of the ship and then of the Crew.


The Radio Officer Radioed ahead to say they had survived the Typhoon. Now the weather was calm they made a good time and entered Harbour on the next morning tide. As they tied up at the company dock they were surprised to see a crowd of people waving and shouting ‘Banzi,’ Meaning ‘ten thousand years’ of long life. The captain rang down ‘finished with engines’, as he did so the shock of what they had come through sank in and he patted the window ledge of the wheel house.


When the crew had eaten and slept they were invited to a special meal with the directors during which The captain was presented with a very expensive gold watch engraved ‘to Captain Clutterbuck from his Crew”.