Thursday, 6 September 2007

On the trail of the Giant Squid

Arrrgghh mon Kapitan, dis iz what we call le squiddly gigantique. Regardez vous iz deadly tentacles!!! Dis deadly fish can snapez un homme like a petit femme!
Jules Verne- Twenty thousand leagues under the sea.

New Zealand- Ever since man first gazed across the endless blue expanse of the world's oceans, he has been both enthralled and disturbed by the fathomless mysteries contained deep within its salty heart.
When mans thirst for adventure and unquenchable curiosity eventually pushed him out from the relative safety of the land and on to the world's oceans he was reluctantly forced to come face to face with his most ancient and deep seated of fears.
The unknown creatures of the deep.
Today we laugh at the notion of supernatural sea monsters but ever since the earliest times, returning sea voyagers have gathered the land loving around flickering fires and told them the heart stopping tales of the giant calamari known to sailors since the days of ancient Greece as the Kraaken!!

News direct decided to send me to New Zealand's southern most island to meet a man who not only claims to have seen the legendary Kraaken, but also to have had endured a fifteen day life and death struggle to avoid being its unwilling prey.
Oban is a pretty little harbour town nestled on tiny island of Stewart, at first glance one might suspect that incest and casual buggery were its main preoccupations but a short walk along the noisy quayside soon dispels one's worst fears and replaces them with an admiration that you are obliged to feel for any man who willingly braves the inhospitable southern oceans in order to feed his family.

On a small promontory over looking Oban harbour sits the legendary seaman's pub, The wary cabin boy, where I am to meet Captain Nate Skidby, ex master of the Tuna boat the Lucky penguin.
I entered the Wary cabin boy cautiously, aware of its reputation as rough house and a place where a man could be violently shanghaied and sold to white slavers before he had even reached the bar.
After accustoming my eyes to the gloom I was surprised when a spotty teenager in a striped shirt and eye patch sidled up to me and shakily asked "Will you be eating a hearty pirate's lunch with us today matey? Our lunch specials are salty sea pork with Pacific rice or Barbary chicken served with Bluebeard's fries."
I politely declined his offer, still unsure as to whether this was one of the old white slaver tricks they used to lure unsuspecting men into their foul trade, and told the suspicious looking lad that I was here to meet the Captain of the Lucky penguin.
He eyed me nervously and no doubt figuring I was wise to his dastardly plans, he changed tack and said "Can I get you a drink while you wait?"
I ordered rum just to make sure he knew I wasn't some soft handed, martini drinking land lubber itching for five year trip on his brine cursed slave schooner to hell.
After he had told me it was company policy not to serve straight rum in the afternoons and I had changed my order to a dry white wine he showed me to a small corner table and told me he would inform me when the captain arrived.

Two hours later I was still sat at the gingham covered table playing with the ship shaped salt cellar and watching the savage bar staff sing "Happy piratey birthday" to a fat young Asian lad who was too busy hoovering up shrimp to notice their tuneless rendition.
I was just about to give up the hope of ever meeting Captain Skidby when a ominous Captain shaped shadow cast its self across my table and a wind flaked voice said "Arrr be you the one that seeks knowledge of deadly beast some call..... the KRAAKEN!!!!?"
I turned quickly, to see before me the Captain of the Lucky penguin and the only man alive to duel with the parrot faced beast of the deep and live to tell the tale.
The captain took a seat beside me and pulled out a weather beaten old pipe and after the suspicious stripy shirted teenager had told him he couldn't smoke, because we were apparently seated in a non smoking section of the Wary cabin boy, he began to tell me his amazing tale "Arrrr the sea, she be a cruel mistress, one minute playful and the next a foul enchantress hoping to take your briney soul to the depths of Davy jones locker arrrr."
At this point the suspicious kid had returned and told the Captain if he didn't put his pipe away he would have to ask us to leave.
The Captain cried indignantly "It's not even lit!! I must say this really is appalling, if I have to suffer another unwarranted interruption from you, I will have to have a word with your supervisor, it's really not on!"
After the acne incubating lad had slinked away into the nearby kitchens the Captain returned to his salty tale of doom "Where was I?"
"The sea is a cruel mistress."
"Oh yeah,thats right, arrrrr that she be. Now lad, I had been the master of the Lucky penguin for more years than that old rust bucket had rivets."
"How long was that?"
The Captain looked in to the far distance and mentally counted the number of years he had navigated the old girl through the cruelest of seas.
"About five years, no tell a lie, about three and a half years. Anyway, arrrrrrr she was a good ship but the crew were the scurviest set of dogs you would ever 'ave the misfortune to meet. Every man jack of 'em would sell their mothers for the price of a keg of grog or the latest mobile phone. They were wanted in every port from the Barbary coast to the straits of Malacca, but they were my crew and together we worked that old ship like she was a ten dollar Filipino whore."

Before the Captain could continue, a new stripy shirt had arrived at the table trailing the young stripey shirt behind him "Excuse me Sir, Gavin says you have a problem with our non smoking policy for this area of the Wary cabin boy bistro and bar."
"Jesus Christ!! I took my pipe out, not to smoke, but to give a little bit of atmosphere to my tale and this kid runs over and tells me I can't smoke here!!! I wasn't smoking it, I don't even smoke! I'm not even sure this is a real pipe, I got it from that souvenir shop on the front there."
The new stripey shirt apologised to the captain and said "I'm so sorry sir, Gavin can be a little over zealous because he is new and wants to impress me. I hope this hasn't spoiled your authentic pirate experience here at the Wary cabin boy Bistro and bar."
The captain sighed "No it's fine honestly."
"You're sure?"
"Yeah, dont worry about."
"Can I give you a complimentary dish of salty pirate nuts?"
"No honestly its fine."
"You're sure?"
"Yeah."
"And this minor inconvenience wouldn't stop you from returning to the Wary cabin boy Bistro and bar on future occasions to sample our authentic piratey family atmosphere?"
"No."
The Captain watched the striped shirts depart shook his head and resumed his tale of watery doom "Where was I? Ohhh yeah, arrrrrr we were five hours out from Oban on the oily trail of the elusive Tuna shoals, when things began to take a turn for the mutinous. I was in my cabin teaching the new cabin boy the ways of the sea and how to swallow "Oysters" without gagging, when the door to my cabin was kicked open and there stood before me was the blood thirstiest set of cut throats you ever did see!
I quickly pulled my pants up and asked what was wrong. The leader, black hearted Jake Mcoy, told me the crew were bored of fishing and had decided to take over the ship so they could take it further south and do some whale watching. I said "This is mutiny Mr Mcoy and you'll not take the Lucky penguin from me without a fight."
When I came to I was alone and cast adrift in the Lucky penguin's only lifeboat. No man can know the desolation of the open ocean until he has found him self adrift with nought but a compass and fishing line.
Four days and nights I was tossed about that small wooden boat, just waiting for the storms to calm so I could cast my line and try to catch something to save me from the starvation that was creeping silently into my hollow belly.
On the fifth day I awoke to a glass calm sea and quickly set about trying to catch me some dinner, if I had known now what trouble it would lead me into I would have lain down right there and then and let the cursed fingers of hunger drag me to my final rest."

The captain stopped for a moment and watched Gavin walk past "You little prick!"
Gavin pretended not to hear and the Captain wiped his sweating brow and ploughed on "Arrr so there I be, dangling my line into those fathomless depths when all of a sudden the line tightened and my stomach churned in anticipation of its first meal in days. I pulled on that line with all the strength I had left in my weary limbs, as I pulled and pulled I could feel my meal pulling back and knew that it was to be a life and death struggle."
Gavin's boss suddenly appeared at the table, notebook in hand and asked the Captain if he was now ready to order.
The Captain wearily placed his head in his hands and then looked up exasperated at Gavin's boss and said "No."
"Are you sure? Today's chef's specials are Long John Silver's jubilee shrimp platter and our most popular dish, Captain Morgan's mussel surprise."
The Captain framed his face in puzzlement and asked "Why is it a mussel surprise?"
"There's no mussels in it, it's a Moroccan lamb dish."
The Captain looked at me open mouthed, then back to Gavin's boss "We won't be eating."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes!!"
"No need to be aggressive sir!"
"Look, I'm sorry, but we won't be eating thank you."
"Is this because of your earlier difficulties with Gavin?"
"No, I'm just not hungry."
"I can recommend the Sardine mariachi, the chef takes fresh Sardines and marinates them in Tequila and chili while playing a specially chosen mix of traditional Mexican folk music."
"No."
"Sure?"
"Yes."
"And your refusal to eat with us at his present moment in time wouldn't stop you from choosing the Wary cabin boy on any future occasion you decided to turn your meal into a piratey adventure?"
"No."
Gavin's boss seemed happy with the Captain's assurances and seamlessly merged into the Wary cabin boy's nautical decor.
"Right, as I was saying, I pulled on that line with every last ounce of strength I had left in my hunger ravaged body and as my prize neared the surface it was then that the full horror of my impending situation hit home.
There it was!!! I was eye to inky eye with the KRAAKEN!!!! As I stared horrified into the mammoth eye of the great slippery beast I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and turned to see one of its great tentacles poised to attach its suckers to the side of my shocked head.
Terror has a name and its name is KRAAKEN!!!!
Thinking quickly, I grabbed an oar from the floor of the boat and plunged it sharply into that dinner plate eye, the beast let out a blood curdling shriek and uncoiled its self from my tiny boat and slipped gently back into the foul depths from whence it had emerged.
I was in shock!! Of course I had heard the tales of the Kraaken but assumed they were an old sea dog's tale, but let me tell you my friend the Kraaken was as real as hemorrhoids and now it knew that there was a ready packed lunch floating just above its salty domain!
I knew that great fish would be back so I resolved I wouldnt sleep until I was either rescued or made land fall.
By day seven lack of sleep and hunger had taken their toll and I was convinced I was a young Judy Garland floating on a marshmallow sea in a boat made of silver pennies, those were my darkest hours and until a man travels into the dark night of the soul he can never know the terrors that lie in wait there.
It was the morning of day eight when the great beast made his second attempt on my life, I had just finished an obviously acapella version of "Don't rain on my parade" when I saw from the corner of my eye a heavily tentacled limb creeping over the bow.
In my delirious state, I at first thought it was Mickey Rooney climbing aboard so we could go over our new dance routines.
As it reached out and grabbed my ankle I remembered it was the dastardly Kraaken and began to beat it mercilessly with the oar I had luckily been using as a cane during my last song and dance routine.
It seemed like an eternity of hours passed as we danced that fateful samba of death and just as it seemed my last reserves of strength were gone, my slippery foe gave up and slinked back down into the cold deep pastures some men like to call the sea.
I never saw him again after that, I think he realised that I was his equal in all things, except obviously arm numbers. My guess is he had decided to try his luck with easier prey, maybe a sea sick porpoise or a disorientated whale, I just don't know.
Six days later I was picked up by the Lucky penguin on their way back from whale watching and I have never seen the great beast again."

The Captain leaned back in his chair, looked round him to make sure Gavin was watching, and stuck his pipe firmly between is teeth.
Gavin hovered nearby and covertly sniffed the air around him in the hopes of smelling some telltale evidence of the Captain's rough shag.
"That's some story Captain, did you go back to sea after your ordeal at the hands of the Kraaken?"
"Arrrr I never did lad, I never did, I figured the old woman of the sea had given me fair warning. Now I sell insurance door to door, are you covered?"
"Yeah, fully thank you."
"We do a very good home and contents policy, or there is a life and fire insurance that we only offer to specially deserving clients like your good self."
"No thanks, really I'm fine honest."
"We can comprehensively insure you and all your loved ones for an unbeatable price of five hundred NZ dollars a month."
"No."
"Pet insurance?"
"No."
"Window insurance?"
"No."
"Insurance insurance?"
"No....what is that anyway?"
"It's a policy I devised whereby you can insure yourself against the future cost of any insurance policy you may take out in the future."
I shook hands with the Captain and after refusing six more policies made my way out onto the terrace and looked across the unforgiving southern ocean and shuddered at the thought of that elusive beast lurking mysteriously somewhere beneath its white capped waves.

4 comments:

deathsweep said...

Riveting...absolutely riveting. You really have a flair. This post was certainly worth the wait. So did you end up buying any insurance from the ol cap'? You know he didn't mention pre-need insurance and if you're interested...... ;P

DS

Aningeniousname said...

Thank you so much for your concern over my insurance needs Mr Deathsweep, sad to say but the last News direct heard Captain Nate Skidby had been arrested by local authorities on thirty two seperate accounts of insurance fraud and four counts of impersonating a sea captain with intent to decieve.
He is curently residing in her majesty's prison Wallahakhuahoo om roppangi chea.

Agnes Mildew said...

Superb! My curiosity has been abated. I have long pondered the mystery of the Kraaken and wondered if it was something Disney had made up for the Pirates series.
But coming from a world renowned news source as News Direct, I now know it to be totally true.
I am only surprised The Daily Sport hadn't got there before you.

Manictastic said...

Truly fascinating and laugh-creating tale about THE KRAAKEN! :)